Prepare your eCommerce for peak seasons

Prepare all elements of your eCommerce to take advantage of high demand seasons as an opportunity to grow your business without losing customer satisfaction in their shopping experience.

Is your eCommerce ready for the peak shipping season?

In the English-speaking world, the peak shipping season is known as the peak shipping season for retail in general and especially for e-commerce. If at first it began with the "Black Friday" campaign and reached its peak at Christmas, nowadays this period has been brought forward and starts in many countries with the celebration of Halloween. 

In Spain, this period is even earlier and is even diluted throughout the year. In our case, the "back to school" in September is a key moment in many sectors and can be considered the official starting point. But the deseasonalisation of the sales and the constant promotional actions force brands to be prepared to face peaks in demand at almost any time. 

In fact, the increase in sales and, consequently, in the volume of orders to manage, can lead to significant gaps in the efficiency of the supply chain. Having a responsive technology platform, having sufficient stock, managing and distributing it efficiently and being prepared for a possible avalanche of returns can become an unattainable goal. 

Meanwhile, behind the computer or mobile device, the customer is hardly sympathetic to the situation, does not lower his purchase expectations, demands compliance with the delivery times to which he has become accustomed (increasingly shorter) and, of course, expects the level of attention received to be, at least, the usual one. 

How should ecommerce prepare for the peak season?

We can identify four areas that ecommerce should focus on during these busy periods:

1. Technology.

It is not advisable to make changes to web design or technology in advance of these campaigns, not only because the shop may not be at full capacity, but also because a new environment or system may throw off regular customers. 

The online shop must be prepared to cope with the extra demand. To do this, one of the main aspects to improve is the loading speed. 

Platform integration. Stock management, order preparation, returns management, real-time tracking... If there is no technological connection between the ecommerce platform and the logistics support, it is likely that many inefficiencies will occur, leading to added costs and damaging the shopping experience. 

2. Stock.

One of the biggest risks in campaigns with high levels of sales is the possibility of running out of stock. Without a doubt, a forecasting exercise is absolutely essential, but much better if it is supported by big data technology and machine learning applications, capable of predicting future scenarios with great accuracy. 

Another option in this context is to partner with different suppliers that can complement each other and counteract any incident. 

3. Deliveries.

The best alternative so that ecommerce does not collapse in high season and can focus on selling is to have a supplier specialised in managing everything that has to do with the distribution chain, who can take charge of storage or work with the shop's warehouse. The important thing is that there are no silos, facilitating the flow of stock between the different parties. 

If communication with the customer is always key, in this context its relevance is multiplied. The customer must be forewarned that the timing is complicated, but the premise continues to be maximum compliance with the commitments acquired in terms of delivery conditions. And all of this while always ensuring maximum visibility of order tracking, both for the brand and for the buyer. 

Last mile logistics has an increasingly important position in the supply chain. Supported by urban warehouses and much more flexible delivery processes, as in the case of iF Lastmile, it allows for more agile shipments adapted to the circumstances of each buyer. 

Diversifying carriers is also an alternative for online shops. However, there is a risk that, by losing volume, costs will increase. To avoid this, you can always work through a logistics company that operates under this model. 

Make deliveries more flexible. To optimise routes and ensure effective deliveries, there is nothing better than opting for formulas that allow flexibility when it comes to receiving orders, allowing the buyer to choose the time slot that suits them best. 

4. Returns.

Returns are always a critical point, which is intensified in high season and especially in the fashion segment. A McKinsey study carried out before the pandemic already estimated a return rate of 25% for clothing in the online channel, compared to 20% in general.

Agility in this process will fundamentally determine the customer's perception of a brand, minimising possible frictions and increasing their predisposition to repeat with future purchases (92% of customers do not repeat with a brand that fails in a return).

They also have an important impact from an economic point of view. Many products have such a short life cycle that by the time they are reintroduced for sale they have lost some of their value or go straight to the shelf. Here again, the flexibility of last-mile logistics means that the time it takes to bring a product back into the marketing chain is substantially reduced (less than 50% of returns can never be sold at full price).