Preparing Your Business for a Wintry 2011
People like shopping online for many reasons from not having to leave the house to being able to compare and search for competitive deals which offer them the most convenient way for payment and delivery.
This was evident in the amount of people that increased their online shopping on the run up to Christmas, with more people intending to do the majority of their Christmas shopping online with the hope of finding great deals.
When the snow started in early December, it was seen as unusually early and meant that shoppers and businesses weren’t prepared for how this would impact them. With online shoppers having to make their purchases earlier to ensure the chance of delivery before Christmas or turning to the high street if they had left it too late. Businesses had to make it clear to people purchasing from their online store that delivery before Christmas couldn’t be guaranteed and in store they had to understand how deliveries to stores would be impacted with the roads in their area. Christmas 2010 is likely to impact how shoppers use the internet for shopping for Christmas 2011.
What can a business do to prepare itself for Christmas 2011
Understanding Christmas 2010 is a good starting point. Looking at how well your business reacted to the early snow and identifying any major problems that you were unable to overcome whether in store or online.
In store, as the weather hit there was no way of understanding whether shoppers would still be able to get to the shops and this is not something as a business that you have a good control on so understanding what is within your control and manageable and how you can positively impact something will help you make manageable steps. If people are getting to stores then what will make them come in your store and out of the snow – looking at your window and promotional displays will help draw people to your store.
A lot of deliveries were held up as roads were impassable so making sure you have a level of stock in to satisfy your Christmas shoppers will help.
If customers are getting to stores you want to make sure your staff are. Some larger companies had to put their staff in hotels to ensure they had enough staff to open stores.
Online, the bad weather hit at a time when most people were looking online to buy Christmas presents. Look at how your website responded in 2010, was the action taken well received. Below are some of the areas which may be worth considering:-
Making it clear if you are unable to guarantee delivery before Christmas. Shoppers who didn’t receive their goods before Christmas (and were under the impression that they would) were left disappointed. Some companies swapped their delivery service to guarantee deliveries to help with deliveries.
Understanding returns, each company receives a different level of returns and has a different returns policy but creating a policy that works on Christmas presents, i.e some large companies extend their return by date so that products bought as gifts don’t can be placed before Christmas but still be returned after.
Overall it is about understanding what may happen for Christmas 2011 and how your business can react to give customers a smooth Christmas shopping experience. Gaining insight from business leaders is a great way to further understand what is achievable as they will have had similar issues as your business but on a larger scale, attending an industry event can help with further ideas.