Customer demand for fast and easy retail shopping has never been higher. Retailers must take steps to delight and retain their retail customers during peak shopping periods. With global shipping disruptions threatening peak season shopping, and heightened consumer demands straining omnichannel and direct-to-consumer e-Commerce shipping, brands should be concerned about meeting their customers’ expectations this year.
Choice, availability, and speed are important to customers all year round, but the pressures introduced during peak season places these factors front-and-center. Here are key factors to consider when preparing your brand’s supply chain for peak season.
Customers often shop for multiple people during the holidays, and they expect to quickly find their desired items. You need to manage a range of SKU variants on your products and balance inventory against demand.
If you are forecasting shortages on certain SKUs, be sure to communicate what items are – and are not – available whenever possible, especially when considering peak season campaigns and promotions.
For retailers selling online, choice and range will factor into the sales process and the returns process. 41% of online shoppers buy variations on an item with a return plan in mind. A good returns management strategy can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
For many retail customers, a product’s lack of availability will quickly cause them to switch to competitors. Retail typically has an average customer retention rate of 63%. A lack of product availability during peak shopping periods can rapidly reduce customer loyalty.
Optimizing suppliers, manufacturers, and logistics will reduce lead times for restocking, ensuring goods are there when needed. Retailers should evaluate their supply chain forecasts and seek partners that can support optimizing their logistics forecasting and inventory management.
Customers want to order and receive their peak-time products quickly, and they often want it to be free. Per the National Retail Federation, 75% of U.S. consumers expect free shipping on any order.
In order to support this expectation, many retailers must examine their networks, often storing stock closer to major transportation routes to minimize shipping times.
Fast, free shipping is a powerful way to attract and retain customers. Up to 84% of customers specifically purchase from a retailer because shipping is free.
As previously mentioned, 41% of online shoppers buy variations on an item with a return plan in mind. This means fast, effective returns management is key to keep customers happy and loyal. This is especially true during a peak shopping period, when gifted items may be returned in larger numbers.
Exploring effective and free returns management is another great way to keep customers happy. 96% of customers intend to repurchase from a retailer if they offer an “easy” or “very easy” returns experience. Implementing easy, free returns management is key for e-Commerce merchants to stand out from the crowd.
Additionally, Finding the right carrier partners is critical for successful returns management. Consider your current carrier network and determine what partner support is required to both successfully meet customer expectations and speed the returns process.
Want to discover more ways to delight your customers? Check out our research on delighting customers during peak:
Peak shopping season is just around the corner, and now is the time to prepare. To remain competitive, retailers should explore their product range and availability, as well as pursue fast, free shipping and returns.