Preparing for Peak Season 2020

Estimated Reading Time 11 minutes

Peak season is, unsurprisingly, going to be a little different this year.

We’ve already seen huge changes across the retail sector this year, from Amazon moving their infamous Prime Day to a two-day stint in October, while Google has opened up their Shopping results to include free listings alongside paid-for adverts.

2020 will bring fresh and unique challenges for many retailers.

Every year there’s a huge amount of planning going on behind the scenes as retailers prepare for the biggest retail season of the year. While footfall on Black Friday has steadily decreased year on year since 2015; it only continues to rise online.

In April 2020, internet usage amongst UK adults soared compared to previous years. [ofcom]

As most of the UK was forced to work from home where possible, the data of course takes into consideration the increased use of video conferencing and the need for homeschooling – not forgetting PE with Joe Wicks.

Adult Internet Usage 2020

This surge in online activity is the perfect opportunity to find new customers and reconnect with old customers. As we head into peak season here are 4 tips to help make Q4 a success.

  • Set realistic goals
  • Have a clear strategy in place
  • Prepare for increased demand
  • Pre-plan your after-sales approach

Set realistic goals

Of course, you want to aim for as many sales as possible (the more the merrier!) but have you set realistic goals?

Goals will vary for every business, so think about what true success looks like to you. Are you prioritising high ticket items with a lower conversion rate? Or would you prefer to sell better converting products that have a lower price? This is especially important if you’re running paid advertising across any channel. If you can achieve a higher return on ad spend (ROAS) through selling lower priced items more easily, then it’s something to consider.

Don’t get too hung up on pushing for a high average order value; it’s more important that your goals are achievable. If you’re not sure where to start, maybe we can help you get there with our digital consultancy.

Have a clear strategy in place

Businesses work on their strategy well ahead of peak season, and this year should be no different.

In my last article, I wrote about the fact that Google had made shopping freely available for retailers globally. Some smaller e-commerce businesses perhaps don’t have the budget to run product ads, so this is a perfect way to reach customers via Google Shopping, and unsurprisingly, Microsoft Advertising (previously Bing Ads) followed suit, however, this is only just being rolled out in the US at the moment.

If you are using Google Ads within your marketing strategy, are you using local inventory ads? Although online shopping has increased, local inventory ads can help encourage footfall to your physical store by showing in-stock items to consumers who are nearby and searching.

Other things to think about within your paid marketing strategy:

With search ads, utilise as many extensions as possible; are you using promo or offer extensions? These allow you to add offer codes or include a deadline within your ad extension.

black friday promo extension

Make use of available audience targeting, whatever platform you’re using. From custom audience data to demographic targeting and matched audiences, there are so many possibilities with audience targeting.

Having a well thought out strategy in place can help make your goals achievable, with a clear road map of how you plan to achieve them, but unfortunately it’s not something that can be done overnight. If you’re stuck on your marketing strategy or feel like you’re at a dead end, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Prepare for increased demand

Achieving record-breaking sales is great, and not always a bad problem to have! But have you thought about how your website will cope, and if you’ll be able to fulfill all those orders?

Much like a customer service team needs to be prepared for seasonal sales, you need to prepare your website in a similar way. There’s nothing worse than a website going down at the same time that everyone wants to buy from you, so if your website is likely to get a surge of hits during peak season, make sure it can handle the pressure. Hosting is one thing, but you also need to think about site speed and load times to ensure customers don’t get impatient.

via GIPHY

Ensure your delivery and returns information is accurate and up to date on your website – then make sure you stick to it. It’s equally as crucial to ensure you have a cut off date for pre-Christmas deliveries, especially for those last-minute shoppers! It might seem like a while away yet, but it’s important to let your customers know the cut off date sooner than later.

Late or missed delivery dates can result in complaints, or even worse – parcels being delivered after Christmas. Reduce the risk of return and lost revenue by ensuring your shipping policy is clear and attainable.

Pre-plan your after-sales approach

You’ve got the sale and you’ve hit your targets. Great! But what now?

Don’t forget the after-sales process, it’s key to help you get more sales in future, and a poor after-sales process may be the reason customers don’t return to purchase from you again.

Once the sale has been made, keep your customers updated on their purchase. Let them know when it’s dispatched, and when it’s likely to arrive. From a consumer perspective, there’s nothing worse than being left in the dark, wondering if and when a parcel is going to arrive.

Post-sale, one of the simplest yet most effective ways you can encourage new customers to shop with you, is by asking previous customers to leave a review. Whether that’s on Facebook, Google, or another third party review platform, new customers are likely to do their due diligence before purchasing, and a positive review could be what swings their decision.

Additionally, add customers to your database, or remarketing lists. This way, you can communicate promotions, special discounts, or perhaps exclusive offers just for them, all of which are reasons to shop with you again. Be aware of the amount of emails or communication that you send, and make sure you aren’t spamming people with a product they already purchased! No one likes to be hounded and you may come across as desperate for the sale.

Peak success in peak season

There’s a lot of planning required for success in peak season, and for many businesses it can be overwhelming.

We’ve worked with a plethora of e-commerce brands in peak season and beyond. If you need help with your e-commerce marketing strategy, get in touch with the team.

Sophie Burrows
As a Senior Digital Strategist, Sophie's role is focused around working with clients to achieve their business objectives, through a mixture of digital marketing channels. Having worked closely with clients in a variety of disciplines over the last five years, Sophie has gained an invaluable insight into what makes for a successful campaign. Applying a strategic process along with deep analytics insight has made Sophie an in-demand digital strategist.