Holiday Season 2020: How Businesses Can Be Prepared7 min read

This holiday season will be different. In more ways than one

Every holiday is, needless to say, bigger than the previous one. But the 2020 season won’t just be bigger, it will be radically different thanks to one key factor: the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panic around this virus and the broad swathe of destruction it has caused around the world ensure that 2020 will be remembered with dismay.

But eCommerce retailers will perhaps remember the year for another reason: much of the world has been forced to switch online. According to certain studies, the transition online has been sped up by 5 years this year alone!

Read on for handy tips on how your business can be prepared for this year’s holiday season.

How the 2020 Holiday Season Will be Different

Here are all the ways in which the last quarter is going to be radically different this year:

  1. The impact of COVID-19 will continue to be felt at all points of the supply chain
  2. The holiday season is not going to revolve around a few key days alone but will be spread out over end-October and the months of November and December.
  3. A higher percentage than ever of shopping will happen online.
  4. Competition online will be the fiercest it has ever been.
  5. Customer Experience (CX) will be the key differentiator of competitive success.

How Your eCommerce Business Can Be Prepared

1. Be Aware of Shipping Carrier Deadlines & Possible Delays

The first way in which you can be prepared for the holiday season is to be aware of the various timelines associated with shipping carriers. 

Major carriers like FedEx and UPS draw up special holiday-specific calendars each year. These contain important dates during the season as well as the last days for parcels to be handed off to the carrier in order to be delivered on key days like Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is necessitated because parcel volumes during the Holidays are typically significantly higher than during the rest of the year. This year is bound to be even busier as people choose to order online rather than visit brick-and-mortar stores for their holiday shopping needs.

Be prepared to ship out your parcels on time while simultaneously being aware that some parcels are bound to be delivered late on account of the considerably high volume that shipping carriers deal with at this time of the year.

2. Be Prepared to Make Quick Changes Mid-Season

As we’ve already discussed, this holiday season will be like no other so far, largely because so many retail businesses have shifted to eCommerce due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Needless to say, competition will be fierce, and you will have to bring your A-game to the table. This also means you should have an open mind to making quick changes mid-season.

Keep an eye on sales trends and inventory through the season and stock up when necessary. Maintain the same focus on your messaging and make subtle changes based on the response you receive.

3. Solidify Your Presence Online

In 2020, it has become incumbent upon retail businesses to have a presence online. The Coronavirus pandemic has made that amply clear. Businesses that have given importance to their brand identity online have fared significantly better than those that haven’t, particularly when stay-at-home orders have been imposed.

Make sure your website and social media pages are updated regularly. Focus on producing content that is both educational and engaging. Run campaigns and promotions that are bound to elicit the interest of visitors to your site and social media pages. 

Businesses that have given importance to their brand identity online have fared significantly better than those that haven’t, particularly when stay-at-home orders have been imposed.

4. Begin Your Holiday-Season Campaigns on Time

You will need to begin your campaigns earlier-than-usual this holiday season. That’s the only way by which you can leverage them considering that you need brand visibility for sales.

Since competition is going to be fiercer than usual, you need to stand out, especially on critical days like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas.

5. Give Precedence to Post-Purchase CX

With competition being fierce and only bound to get fiercer through the holiday season, particularly on the pricing and discount front, it is customer experience that can be a major differentiator. Whether on your site or after purchase, you need to plan out and implement the specific experience that you want your customers to enjoy.

In 2020, post-purchase customer experience has emerged as a key differentiator between businesses that sell similar products. If you can allay shoppers’ anxiety around deliveries after checkout by keeping them engaged, you will be on the right track this holiday season.

Whether on your site or after purchase, you need to plan out and implement the specific experience that you want your customers to enjoy.

6. Empower Your Customer Support Executives

Ensure your customer support executives are well-trained and ready to handle the rigors of Holiday Season 2020.

If additional staffing is required, make sure that it is done well in time and that new joinees are trained. Also, having an entirely manual approach is not advisable in 2020, so ensure you have automation in place to make things easier for your support team.

7. Clearly Define & Display Your Return Policy and Make Returns Easier

Having a clearly-defined and frictionless returns policy prominently displayed on your eCommerce site makes your brand seem less risky for shoppers. In fact, the generous returns policy is one of the aspects that makes Amazon tick as a business.

Your returns policy should clearly define the time window for returning products as well as the condition in which products will be accepted for returns.

8. Give Importance to Website Load Times

If your website takes too long to load, you’ve already lost your battle right at the start. 

Shoppers are an impatient lot flooded with a plethora of choices. This is particularly true in the holiday season when most brands run promotions and offer discounts. A shopper confronted with a site that loads too slowly will simply choose to click away to another one.

9. Update Your Pages With Relevant Content

Your eCommerce website and key product pages in particular need to be constantly updated with relevant content through the holiday season. Keep in mind that the shopping situation this year is bound closely to the progression of Coronavirus. You might need to rethink your promotions if the situation worsens. 

10. Distribute Marketing & Promotions Through the Season

Don’t clump all your promotions at the beginning of the season. Distribute them throughout. This is critical, particularly this year when Coronavirus has resulted in a longer holiday season than usual.

Make sure to have relevant promotions active on key days such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas.

11. Explore New Ways to Fulfill Orders

The Coronavirus pandemic has meant that the eCommerce industry and parcel deliveries have been under the scanner for safety reasons. New and safer parcel-delivery methods have been explored and implemented by both retailers and shipping carriers.

Since the holiday season comes in the midst of a pandemic, having safe delivery options, like contactless deliveries, can earn you the trust of shoppers.

Additionally, make sure to explore other convenient and customer-friendly ways to fulfill orders like BOPIS (Buy Online & Pickup In-Store) and curbside pickups. You could also make use of a facility like FedEx Locker.

How You Can Prepare for This Holiday Season

How LateShipment.com Can Help You

LateShipment.com’s Delivery Experience Management platform helps you craft outstanding post-purchase experiences and build long-lasting customer relationships.

Our groundbreaking post-purchase solutions help businesses effortlessly bridge the post-purchase CX gap and discover new ways to delight and retain customers.

LateShipment.com’s Delivery Experience Management (DEM) platform helps eCommerce businesses such as yours:

  • Stay on top of delays by tracking your in-transit parcels across carriers in real-time.
  • Resolve delivery issues proactively with predictive alerts for shipments facing delays.
  • Over-communicate with customers facing critical delivery issues.
  • Send automated delivery status notifications via email and SMS to reduce your customers’ anxiety.

Additionally, LateShipment.com allows you to have your monthly shipping invoices automatically audited for 50+ shipping carrier service failures and claims refunds on your behalf. The claimed amount is directly deposited into your account. This can save you up to 20% on your overall shipping spend.

Our automated refunds solution 

  • Audits your monthly shipping invoices
  • Submits refund claims to your carrier(s) on your behalf
  • Deposits the refunded amount directly into your account

How good is that?

The best part is, it takes less than 2 minutes to see LateShipment.com in action without any change to your existing workflow.

The value we add to businesses is most evident when experienced first-hand. Try LateShipment.com now.