Although the temperatures may still be registering summer highs, Christmas is not far away. Retailers should already be thinking long and hard about the holiday season, said Maris Daugherty, senior consultant at J.C. Williams Group Ltd., a global retail consulting firm.
The all important holiday shopping season requires retailers to plan ahead to achieve their goals and ensure smooth operations. Multichannel retailers should begin by coordinating efforts between channels, Daugherty advised.
"The offline channel is planning print media, in-store signs, event promotions and more right now," she said. "The web team should work with key people offline, both in marketing and merchandising, to coordinate their efforts."
The difference in planning cycles between the online and store channels can be extreme, Daugherty added. ECommerce staff today can be planning ways to extend the presence of the web in stores during the holidays, she suggested.
Holiday promotions in-store can include messaging about the web channel, including reasons to shop the eCommerce site, such as the ability to shop 24/7, find additional products not available in stores, save time when time is of the essence, and buy online/pick up in-store.
One hotspot during the holidays is shipping, and retailers should be studying the best ways to handle what is key to holiday shopping, Daugherty advised. "Merchants always get hung up on shipping dates for the holidays," she said.
"When are your cut offs? When will you offer expedited shipping? You have to coordinate it with your order management, call center and other departments. This needs to be unified across the entire business," she said.
An important factor not to be overlooked in planning ahead for the holidays is what has been added to the eRetailing arsenal since last year's holiday season that could be used this year. "Have you done new shipping promotions? Have you added wish lists? Have you tried new marketing campaigns? Have you branched out into social networking? Have you used customer reviews in marketing efforts? Anything you used over the course of this year to date, that has proven successful, can be put into practice for the upcoming holiday season," she concluded.
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