Archive for the ‘retail holiday season’ Category

5 Tips to Help Retailers to Prepare for the Holidays

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

retail holiday season

It’s July, so if you’re a retailer, it’s time to start preparing for the holiday season. Freestyle Solutions is here to help online retailers and brands survive and thrive during the busy season. Below are some tips that will help your business this holiday season.

  1. Prepare Your Website

Is your website ready for the traffic spikes the holidays can bring? Testing load time for API’s and your site’s speed is a good idea before the holiday season.

If you collect customer data or accept credit cards online, you’ll want to verify your site is PCI compliant. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all companies that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

Is your website secure? Make sure your ecommerce and content management platforms have the latest updates installed and are using best security practices. If this is beyond IT team’s area of expertise, you may want to hire a security consultant to verify your website is not vulnerable to an attack. Businesses are frequently targeted during the holidays, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Is your site mobile-friendly? If it isn’t, it should be. Smartphones accounted for 45.1 percent of all shopping traffic online in the first quarter of 2016 according to a study from Demandware. This is more than computers at 45 percent. Also, Google search results are affected by whether a site is responsive. In May, Google rolled out an update to mobile search results that “increases the effect” of its mobile-friendly ranking.

  1. Get Your Inventory Ready

The last thing you want to be during the holiday season is out of stock on a key item or items that is going to be the item of the entire holiday season.  Looking at trends for specific products from last year or past holiday trends for top products will help you stock the products you need, and make sure that you are never out of stock.  You can also analyze monthly or weekly sales volumes for trends. With the omnichannel landscape expanding, tying in your brick and mortar stores for in-store pick up as an option will drive the success you need for this holiday season.

  1. Figure Out Your Sales Schedule

Sure Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a given when it comes to massive sales during the holiday season, but maybe you want to consider other days during the holiday season that would help drive revenue.  It also gives shoppers a reason to come and visit your site multiple times during the holiday season. You’ll want to be a step ahead of everyone else, become the trend, don’t join the trend.

  1. Plan Your Promotions Schedule

You want to entice people to purchase something on your site, but you also want to figure out ways that will drive them to the site after the holiday season. Creating promotions is a great way to drive demand. Setting the right promotions will get people to not only increase the size of their cart, but increase the size of the sale. Also, consider running promotions for after the holidays to give shoppers a reason to come back after the holidays are over.

  1. Get Your Seasonal Help Up to Speed

Having enough help to manage the spike in your business is a critical piece to help your business survive and thrive in the holiday season. You should determine which positions are most critical and can be trained quickly. It may be workers that help pack and ship out extra boxes of merchandise or answer calls in your call center. Using a staffing firm to hire temporary workers may be the quickest way to find temporary help. Training these employees quickly and thoroughly will help reduce headaches and increase the efficiency of your business.

Is your order management system well equipped to support your holiday sales? Freestyle Solutions can help. Find out more information about our two order management system offerings.

Did You Survive Return-Ageddon this Year?

Monday, January 25th, 2016

did-you-survive-return-ageddon
January 6th is a pseudo National Holiday on the calendar called National Returns Day. It is better known as Return-Ageddon to many of us. This is the day of returns “hell” for all.

Since you may still be knee-deep in returns, hopefully not eyeball deep, here are few key points to consider. According to a few studies, it’s not yet time to take your head out of the clouds, but it might be a good time to be clever and start managing your products and returns more efficiently for the next Return-Ageddon.

In a combined online shopping study by UPS and comScore, “Empowered Consumers Changing the Future of Retail,” they discovered key insights into the returns process.

“67% review a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase, 66% want free return shipping, 58% want a hassle-free “no questions asked” return policy, and 47% want an easy-to-print return label.”

With most consumers close to or more than half demanding free returns, an easy-to-print label, and hassle-free shipping, it is vital for retailers to persevere with a robust all-in-one system. When you are choosing an order management software, it may be beneficial to keep these things in mind or say hello to the chaos of Return-Ageddon once again. Online shipping returns vs. at the physical store showed even more cause for concern.return ageddon, managing online returns

“70% purchase an additional item when making an in-store return, compared to 42% who make a new purchase while processing an online return.”-UPS
Online Shopping Study

So, what does this mean for you the customer? The Retailer? The e-tailer?Determining whether the product was returned online or in store is crucial to view in an efficient order management system. Along with that, comes return codes, shipping charges, bin sorting and more.

According to NRF, total merchandise returns amounted to $260.5 billion in 2015, with $63 billion from holiday sales. Wait, roughly 25% of the $260.5 billion in returns happen during the holidays. How many pieces and/or items is that? And, it does not stop there…Return fraud also proves to be a tremendous part of the problem.

“Annual merchandise return fraud and abuse is estimated between $9.1 and $15.9 billion for the U.S. retail industry.”-NRF Study

nrf study

Yes, you are reading that red print on the chart right…the estimated amount of fraudulent returns is close to the annual revenue of the NFL.

Retailers will constantly be searching for new ways to make returns easier.

So, What’s Your 2016 Return-Ageddon Resolution (R.A.R.)?

Check out the list below to see if you are in a serious need of a R.A.R within your current order management system.

-Where are you returns processed?

-How do you handle returns?

-Where exactly are your items returned?

-How long does it take for a return to be processes and do you offer store credit?

-How long until the customer receives credit back? What if it was a gift card purchase?

-Was it purchased online or in store?

-Are you utilizing omnichannel returns?

-Are you prepared to sort out return bins and charge for shipping?

-What are the reason codes available to you?

-Do you have both the customer and supplier side ready?

If you don’t know how to answer two or more these, or if you are just unsure or unhappy, you seriously need to start 2016 with a new R.A.R.

Schedule a live demo, and have one of your New Year’s Resolutions actually stick, so that you’re in a better spot this time next year.

Be like this guy drinking a fuzzy drink from a coconut on a beach, who can relax knowing his returns are in control, not some guy reading a blog like this, in two feet of snow, drinking cold coffee.

guy on a beach

Questions or concerns? Use the comment section below to let us know how your returns went and/or how we can help you prepare for Return-Ageddon’s dreaded visit next year… 

 

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5 Essential Tips to Take on Holiday Shipping

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

holiday shipping tips

What’s that you hear? Could it be the faint sound of holiday jingles in the air? Perhaps you’re thinking, stop this madness, Halloween hasn’t even crept up yet. Or, maybe you’re a bundle of holiday cheer all-year-round and can’t stop singing along. Any hint of carols before Halloween is enough to make any retailer realize the busy season is quickly approaching.

People are starting to get excited and the tunes are just a tipping off point. Even though the holiday retail season still appears at a safe distance, Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, then we all know what comes next.

So, when should you make sure your holiday shipping plans are squared away? Some might say yesterday.

Over 126 million people plan to shop on Cyber Monday, and 6 million of those orders will be delivered late, eligible for shipping refunds.
71 lbs.

The orders may start to come in full-force, but what will that matter if your shipping isn’t up to par. Should you look into offering free gifts with a purchase? Or, maybe honing in on those last minute shoppers by off-setting higher costs with a money back guarantee would be beneficial.

Check out 5 essential tips below, and get through your holiday shipping like a pro this year. 

Holiday Shipping Infographic-

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How to Take on the Holiday Retail Season Like a Pro

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

How to Take on the Holiday Retail Season Like a Pro

With consumers spending more and more online each year, you want to learn the best ways to get your website up to speed, recover from the high-volume shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday and most of all, keep your customers content and coming back.

Keeping Your Customers Happy

The holidays tend to create anxiety among consumers. They are no longer only trying to find the best deal, but with the never-ending buying options, they need the quickest and most seamless shopping experience out there. Think about your strategy for the upcoming holiday retail season and consider implementing the following:

  • Email Marketing & Planning

Having a successful email marketing strategy can really help during the holiday retail season. Feel free to get creative with promotional emails that highlight specific deals for certain holidays. Most importantly, gather as many emails as possible so you can promote more when the busy time hits.

Start planning ahead by finding a way to bring customers back. Avoid shopping cart abandonment by looking into adding extra features to your business model, like Bigcommerce’s cart closer app. You can learn to keep up with the competition this holiday retail season if you take some time to implement the proper planning and tools necessary. You’ll be glad you did in the end.

  • Offer Promotions, Without Going Overboard

Offering crazy deals during the holiday retail season is a given, but if you can’t afford to run deep promotions, don’t feel pressured to. Always do what makes sense for your budget and customers. Even though it may be tempting to run a high discount, planning ahead for targeted promotions is your best option. You can always try to offer free shipping, or even incorporate eCommerce kits and bundles for a chance to stand out from the competition and offer discount pricing at the same time.

how to take on holiday retail - mobile shopping

  • Mobile Commerce

Mobile traffic made up 45% of all online circulation during last year’s holiday season, which was a 25.5% increase from the previous year.
IBM

Mobile sales increased 27.2% and made up 22.6% of all online sales as well. Keeping these numbers in mind, if your site is not fully optimized and mobile-friendly, now is the time to do so.

With the increase in mobile sales comes highlighting the critical days during the holiday retail reason. Compared to last year, online orders from small and medium sized businesses increased by 24% between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to a Bigcommerce report. With online sales continuing to rise and mobile purchasing becoming more common, numbers are expected to grow for the upcoming holiday retail season.

  • Load Testing

Is your website ready for the traffic spikes the holidays can bring? Businesses are easily targeted during this time of the year, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Testing load time for API’s, site security and more is always beneficial to avoid running into any issues.

Avoiding Shipping Woes

Fulfillment and managing the purchasing process around the holidays are often overlooked, leaving room for error, and keeping your customers waiting. Shipping woes tend to come up during popular shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Issues with shipping have been known to arise no matter what distributor you are using, such as UPS or FedEx. UPS attempted to avoid the holiday shipping delays, and by doing so, contributed to a $175 million rise in operating expenses last year.

If you have your own drop shipping business, make sure you are keeping up-to-date on back orders and any other deterrents that are extremely common during the holiday rush. Always revise your shipping methods for updated protocol and the most budget-friendly approaches.

Staying on Top of Your Inventory

Do you process and send out orders through multiple sales channels? With the holiday craze, managing multichannel sales can be difficult, as keeping track of certain products can get complex. But, it doesn’t have to be with a streamlined order flow. Implementing an inventory software can help avoid running into any problems when the holiday flood gates open.

Unnecessary errors in your order process can be easily avoided with a simple solution to inventory management for retailers. With very little effort, you can be on your way to centralizing your sales channels, allowing for more accurate calculations, and giving you one less thing to worry about for the holiday retail season.

Check out the free eBook below to find out what you may be missing.

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