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Delivering an online Christmas

By
Richard Gallacher
November 26, 2020

Retail has been operating at breakneck speed all year and the peak season could send that into overdrive.

After listening to the webinar delivered by Retail Week into how certain businesses can manage online demand at Xmas, it’s clear that 2020 has thrown up challenges that wouldn’t usually have been as apparent as they are today.

For certain sectors, like the toy and fashion industry, key months and dates can deliver the lion’s share of a business’s yearly demand. Toy Producer, The Entertainer and Fashion brand, Apricot, manage the festive demand as well as black Friday/Cyber Monday sales bonanzas in different ways.

For the first time Internet sales as a % of total retail sales has rarely dropped below 20% and this only looks set to increase the closer we move to Xmas.

Increasing demand is positive but businesses that don’t have the capacity to meet customer expectations run the risk of falling short.

How to manage inflated festive orders profitably 

The Entertainer boss, Gary Grant, spoke of his business’s difficulty in managing inflated festive orders and shipping them accurately, on time and within budget. Interestingly, over a period of time where some sections of the retail industry have suffered, he highlighted that The Entertainer’s biggest problem isn’t demand, it is picking, packing and dispatching its online orders within budget.

At TrueCommerce we help businesses connect their sales channels, order management, and parcel carriers to simplify and optimise their shipping processes. 

A common problem for any business that receives an influx of orders is fulfilment and shipping. Our cloud-based model enables organisations to rapidly scale their business to handle demand spikes, whilst functionality such as batch shipping allows for large order volumes to be processed quickly and easily.

Our Pack & Ship solution automates previously manual tasks with a web-based solution so you can accelerate order fulfillment and ship more orders with a higher degree of accuracy in less time.

How to fulfil increasing demand 

Another interesting point raised which is not exclusive to the toy industry, was how best to ship large quantities of bulky products – which tend to cost more to deliver – profitably. Ultimately, in the eyes of the customer a delayed delivery is the fault of the retailer, not the courier which makes it pivotal that businesses who ship large quantities of goods are optimising their processes. 

As we’re all increasingly shopping online our expectations for fast and efficient deliveries are accelerating in tandem. Most customers now expect free shipping and an astounding 26% of us will abandon a shopping cart if shipping is too slow.

The TrueCommerce Pack & Ship solution lets businesses quickly and easily compare different carriers and find the carrier and service that meets your shipping needs for the lowest cost, meaning you'll no longer need to spend time getting multiple quotes for couriers who can meet the ever growing need for dynamic deliveries - or worst still just using one carrier for convenience regardless of the cost. And what’s more, you’ll also be able to analyse shipment history data, enabling you to negotiate better rates with the carriers you use, whilst the ability to cartonise your orders further reduces your costs by optimising package and pallet utilisation.

How to combat a changing physical landscape online

Pahul Ahluwalia of Apricot highlighted some of the issues affecting the fashion industry over the course of 2020. 

Fashion, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder but when stores close and dressing room doors are shuttered, how can apparel companies get their products into the hands of its consumers for them to try and buy?

In the absence of traditional brick and mortar stores, online product advertisements, descriptions, images, categorisations and dimensions have to be flawless to spark interest. Over a period of time where social events that warrant new wardrobes have been cancelled, it is imperative for businesses to offer accurate and compelling product descriptions to encourage purchases.

TrueCommerce help businesses increase conversion rates with better product information by optimising and enriching product content. Our PIM solution not only helps buyers find your products more easily, something which is essential when selling online, it also improves conversion rates. Today's consumers are used to having all the information they need at their fingertips, but ensuring information is accurate and constantly maintained can be a labour intensive process, particularly when lots of technical details are required – time which could be reinvested into more strategic areas of the business.

A PIM system makes the maintenance of product information more efficient as it only has to be updated in one system and then automatically distributed to all your sales channels. This means even if you are required to make regular changes to your prices, sizes, colors or materials, it doesn’t need to be a time consuming process to maintain high quality content. What’s more, with more accurate and detailed product information you reduce the likelihood of returns.

 

Contributor
Richard Gallacher is a Marketing Executive here at TrueCommerce. As a key member of the marketing team, Richard provides insightful, accessible information to help businesses improve and grow their operations. Richard is based in our Manchester office.