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Peak season: a guide to survive and to thrive

Digital Affair brings you the complete guide on how to prepare for Peak Season. The most important key? Advance preparation.
Peak Season

If you’re operating within the retail or e-commerce market, you must have heard about the peak season, right? Of course, you did, and there’s no way out of it because the time for peak season is now!

Retail and e-commerce businesses are now prepping for the peak season (also known as the holiday season). This is the major shopping spree of the year, and it has always been the make-or-break period for businesses, and we can only assume that it will be no different this year.

Following the pandemic lifting of restrictive measures, consumers are planning their holidays and (possibly) planning to splurge their loved ones with gifts. This means that the 2021 holiday season is already profiling to present itself as one of the biggest sales season ever.

Given this scenario, it’s not time to back off! Retailers and e-commerce businesses have a lot in their hands to be prepared and to thrive through this peak season.

Peak season: what is it?

First things first!

For those who are not familiar with the concept, (and simply put), the peak season can be defined as a period when consumers’ demand reaches its highest exponent, but it’s also the time for businesses to leave an enduring impression on consumers. What does this mean? Good opportunities for everyone.

2021 might be a turning point for this so-called peak season. While 2020 was probably the most unpredictable and unprecedented, 2021 will be presumably quite positive for retail and e-commerce businesses.

But hold your horses, because, while it might sound exciting and rewarding for businesses, resulting in a drastic sales increase, it also means planning and a dramatic increase in the workflow. And guess what? You know, there’s no way out of it.

So, to survive, keep reading as we have prepared a few insights that might be quite useful to be adequately ready for this peak season and to make the most of this busy period.

Save the date: peak season timings 1.01

Without further ado, here’s the deal.

Peak season goes down from October to December. It officially starts with Halloween, which also marks the starting point of the Christmas season. November gets both Singles Day (on the 11th) and Black Friday (on the 26th). This last one – as anyone knows – is capable of emptying shelves (both on traditional commerce or online shopping). And let’s not speak about December. Christmas and New Year?! We’re talking about the Holy Grail for shopping results.

This goes along with a three-step strategy to make the most out of this peak season: starting in October by creating buzz among consumers (1) and building up anticipation culminating with the D Day – meaning Black Friday – (2) and then extending this to Cyber Monday and following weeks (3).

But, don’t be fooled. As we mentioned previously, this means a lot of prepping work, a lot. Starting – in the worst-case scenario –in late August, businesses must have the know-how to be able to think ahead, meaning that once again they will be ready for peak season.

According to an article by Think With Google “the 2020 holiday season was the biggest ever for digital sales”

Getting ready for peak season

Let’s talk about facts.

2020 marked a turning point for commerce. The world is still adjusting to this new normal. According to an article by Think With Google “the 2020 holiday season was the biggest ever for digital sales” having rounded up close to € 900 billion in global sales (representing 50% more than the previous year).

The same article states that while it’s “impossible to predict exact holiday revenue figures for 2021 — especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic” it’s also sure that the “trend towards online purchasing will continue to grow”.

This is also impacting when considering what this growth means. Quoted in the same article, Debadeep Bandyopadhyay, a Google research analyst overseeing Search trends across the Middle East, and Africa, states that it’s undeniable that “the shift towards digital shopping is here to stay”.

The data collected shows that “people aren’t just going online to buy. They are browsing. There’s sustained interest in online window shopping and searches for inspirational shopping ideas”.

For those who want to be successful in the peak season, here’s what businesses and brands must ensure to support their customers’ purchasing process:

  • Reach your customers while they’re browsing
  • Engage with them through the research phase
  • Convert their search in purchase
  • Make sure to drive sales throughout the holidays

To succeed this means that businesses and brands must now be prepared to embrace this two-way road. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Be ready

Businesses must anticipate the migration of their customers to the online channels. The sooner they get ready for it the better.

2. Let them know what’s in store:

Notify customers about what’s in stock, promo campaigns, delivery times, return policies, etc. They must know what to expect.

3. Create customer segments

Whether it’s about product preferences, demographics, preferred communication channels, etc. it doesn’t matter. This will help analytics to target specific audiences with specific campaigns and/or products and to raise the average order value (AOV).

Stay current: businesses can’t rely on last year’s trends. Forget about it. It’s all about now! Keep track of the current trends and be agile.

4. Consider new tools/services

Such as click and collect, scan&go, promo campaigns that might ease customers’ lives.

Peak Season: A guide to survive and to thrive

2021 trends for peak season

While online shopping has been on the rise, it still represents a small market share. But there’s no denying that this is the road to follow as the digital continues to grow stronger.

However, it is also clear that there’s also space for traditional shoppers and, therefore, it’s important to embrace an omnichannel approach and to make sure that the customer experience is continuously improved.

But there are also some good starting points to consider. Here are some trends to follow that will help your business to thrive through the peak season:

1. It’s all about brand awareness

According to Google Data (as stated in an article from Think With Google) the “global consumer interest in Black Friday starts around the start of September, roughly 10 weeks before the shopping holiday takes place”.

This means that retail and e-commerce businesses must start their campaigns way earlier. So it’s important to ensure “brand presence when people start researching products” to boost sales.

2. Video is your best friend

Whether it’s YouTube or TikTok, video content is an effective way to ensure brand awareness and to lead to purchases. Both YouTube and TikTok are helpful to help businesses to build brand consideration and to influence consumers. And don’t forget about shoppable videos!

3. Ensure a mobile-friendly experience

Yes, there are those consumers who are just sitting at the computer browsing for some hot stuff campaigns, but let’s not forget that nowadays most people can’t keep their eyes off their phones. The online shopper profile continues to be mobile-first, so it’s essential to provide a mobile user-friendly experience for your customers.

Ready, set, go!

Surviving and thriving through a peak season it’s all about knowing your target audience and where you want shots to be fired at. This is the main key to success! But let’s not forget about the basics: preparation, preparation, preparation! Only those well prepared for the peak season hell will thrive.

Get your data straight, define your strategy, set the target and go for it!

Graduated in Journalism, she went to the other side and have been working as a communication manager and content producer for the past years. She’s all about communication, marketing, social media, events and tech trends. Books, photography and music are some of the things she’ll happily talk you about.

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