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Prepare your business for the holidays with ChannelAdvisor

ADVERTORIAL
By Sponsor

9 Nov 2021

Fashion

With the festive season fast approaching and the effects of Covid-19 still impacting global supply chains, alongside the complexities of Brexit - how prepared is your marketplace business? 

ChannelAdvisor’s manager of account services, Vini Ratnamaheson has some great tips to set yourself up for success —from mapping out your inventory levels to optimising your product content, as well as tailoring your advertising and promotion plans, and how to respond to ratings and reviews. 

Be aware of changing consumer behaviour

It is important to prepare your marketplace business for the holidays sooner rather than later, as, in 2020, 49 percent of consumers indicated they expected to do “more” of their holiday season shopping online. A figure that is likely to have grown since then due to the general shift in consumer behaviour to shop more online in response to the pandemic. 

Recent research from ChannelAdvisor also reveals that consumers are becoming more impatient shoppers. 81 percent of British consumers stated that if a product was out of stock that they would purchase a similar product from a different brand. This was replicated across Europe, with 77 percent of French consumers and 62 percent of German shoppers saying they would jump ship to other retailers if a product was out of stock. 

Ratnamaheson, explains: “The pandemic led British shoppers to become increasingly savvy around e-commerce, this means that consumers are all too aware that there’s an enormous number of sales avenues available to them and if a brand can’t provide a product in a timely fashion they’ll see shoppers eagerly spend money with a competitor. 

“Brands will need to watch stock supply more closely than ever in the lead up to this Christmas, ensuring inventory is available to early festive shoppers, for the intense shopping activity during Cyber Five and for last-minute buyers. Those brands that will thrive this year will already be reviewing last year’s sales to identify top sellers and evaluate new styles or product lines that may be popular during the peak season.”

Understand your Inventory

Ensuring you hit your sales targets for 2021 lies with having adequate inventory available for the entire holiday season, for the early festive shopper to the bargain hunter during Cyber Five and not forgetting last-minute buyers. 

To make sure you don’t run out of stock or overshoot your needs and end up with too much product at the end of the fourth quarter, ChannelAdvisor suggests that brands and retailers review last year’s sales to identify top sellers and evaluate new styles or product lines that may be popular during the peak season, as well as use a reliable forecasting tool to ensure you’re stocking at the optimal level for your likely sales. 

“Leveraging technology can really help you strike the right balance with inventory. One of the best methods to ensure you’re stocking at the optimal level for your likely sales is the use of a reliable forecasting tool,” said Ratnamaheson.

“For example, ChannelAdvisor’s data-driven Demand Forecaster tool can help e-commerce sellers predict their inventory needed to meet upcoming sales volume, without over or understocking. Additionally, you must evaluate whether you have the resources to fulfil orders internally or if you’d like to ship product for fulfilment through external services. ChannelAdvisor’s Inventory Management features can help you review and make data-driven decisions of your options.”

Optimise your product content

When considering product optimisation, the goal is twofold: increasing organic traffic to your products through search result optimisation and providing consumers with the information they need to make an educated decision.

On Amazon, for example, providing an accurate “Item Type Keyword” for each of your products ensures that it is being categorised accurately. The list of ITKs can be found through Amazon’s “Browse Tree guides”. This will help consumers who are browsing by category to find your products. 

You can also provide a list of search terms to help drive traffic to your items in addition to the keywords that are found in the listing itself. Each marketplace has its own best practices and recommendations — this is a great time to confirm that your product content is aligned with both. 

Ratnamaheson says: “The key to optimising your customer’s online experience is to allow shoppers to learn just as much, if not more, about a product online as if they were physically shopping in-store. By informing the customer with optimised product listings, you’re equipping them with the details to make a purchasing decision. Remember, it’s not a one size fits all policy. Each marketplace has its own specific standards, meaning your data needs to be tailored to each platform to rise up the listings across category and keyword searches.”

Tailor your advertising and promotions plans

Developing an advertising and promotional strategy for the holiday season is unique for every business and to help set a clear direction - Ratnamaheson suggests answering the following questions: 

  1. What are the top goals you’d like to accomplish during the quarter? 
  2. What is the status of your content? Before you finalise your advertising strategy and launch any campaigns, review the content in your listings, from titles to text to images. Is all of it optimised for holiday shoppers?  
  3. Are you leveraging all ad types and targeting options? Have you fallen into a rut without fully examining ROAS, the latest perspectives of your most likely buyers and any new opportunities?
  4. What was the success rate of the promotions you ran last year? Have circumstances changed compared to last year — and if so, how might that affect your approach this year? 

“To ensure that you’re capturing the demand during peak periods, you’ll need to make sure you allocate enough budget to advertising on Amazon and other channels,” says Ratnamaheson. “This will help you gain maximum exposure for your products. Competitors will be doing the same thing so it’s a matter of keeping ahead.”

Respond to ratings and reviews

The opinions of other customers can hold significant influence on potential buyers during their shopping journey, and ideally, all ratings and reviews should receive prompt responses. 

Timely, ongoing communication related to reviews signals that a company is present, actively listening to its consumers and interested in their feedback. However, during the bustle of the peak season, you’ll need to prioritise the ratings and reviews in relation to your response time. 

Prioritise highly negative reviews and those directly asking for a reply, as bad reviews can deter prospective buyers and impact your seller standing on a marketplace. You also need to keep an eye on an accumulation of mediocre reviews, as this can drag down your average rating and make buyers hesitate to buy your product. 

“Peak season can be a hectic and exhilarating time of year -but there is one core truth. Communication is critical. The ultimate success of your plans and procedures depends on effective communication within your organisation. Whether you’re a small business or global corporation, clear, effective, rapid communication that allows information to flow both ways will play a significant role in your ability to adapt and progress in the fast-moving environment of e-commerce.”

Want to learn more ways to enhance your e-commerce? ChannelAdvisor is a leading multichannel commerce platform that enables retailers and branded manufacturers to integrate, manage and optimise their merchandise sales across hundreds of online channels including Facebook, Google, Amazon, eBay, Zalando and more. Visit www.channeladvisor.com for more information.