6 Strategies to Help Ecommerce Supply Chains This Holiday Season

The good news is that ecommerce experts anticipate more than a trillion dollars in sales this holiday season for the first time ever. The bad news is that the global supply chain is already seeing delays, and we’re just now approaching the peak gift-buying period. . 

Again, there is good news, especially online, as Patrick Brown, Adobe’s vice president of growth marketing and insights, notes that, "Limited product availability, higher prices, and concerns about shipping delays will drive another surge towards e-commerce, as it provides more flexibility in how and when consumers choose to shop." The challenge, however, will be in meeting that demand.

If you aren’t able to meet shipping timelines or run out of stock in the midst of your busiest season, customers that would have otherwise racked up a high lifetime value with you may not come back next year. Rather than frighten you with supply chain stories you’ve already heard, here are some ideas for ways you can smooth out your own holiday demand and deliver for your customers. 

Run a sale ASAP

Too many ecommerce stores make the mistake of waiting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off their holiday marketing. Instead of crunching all your holiday sales into the month of December when every shipping day counts, move it forward as far as possible. In addition to elongating the holiday season, any data you can gather now will give you more insight into how you can maximize the crunch time just before Christmas. For example, if you test a few discounts now, you can measure their effectiveness and know what will move the needle when it really counts.

Early holiday sales help your ecommerce supply chain

Another benefit to frontloading your promotional strategy is that any purchases made today will go out before the crush of holiday packages in December and have a much better chance of arriving on schedule. If there’s one thing that can frustrate new customers, it’s shipping delays!

Communicate, communicate, communicate 

Customers are hearing about the same supply chain concerns you are. Instead of leaving antsy customers to their own devices, put them at ease with a quick email. Sometimes, the most effective communication isn’t a flashy GIF, but a straightforward, plain text email from the CEO outlining how you’re addressing a problem and how they’ll be able to shop successfully with you despite the situation.

Engage ecommerce customers via email to boost buying confidence

In addition to communicating directly about the challenges all businesses will face in this last quarter of the year, be as helpful as you can throughout their on-site experience. Put estimated ship dates on product pages, in purchase confirmations, and shipping notifications. If there are delays en route, communicate them and assure your customers that they’ll receive their order. Silence is a killer when customers are anxious to receive gifts.

Take advantage of gift cards

According to Adobe, certain product types will be disproportionately affected by supply chain delays as the holidays approach. These categories include:

  • Apparel
  • Sporting Goods
  • Baby Products
  • Electronics

Shoppers are reportedly already seeing these challenges play out in the form of a “172% rise in out-of-stock messages going into the holiday season.”

Use gift card sales to alleviate ecommerce supply chain delays

Be smart and plan for this eventuality. Instead of a plain old out-of-stock message, use the valuable real estate around these popular products to push gift cards. It’s cash for you now to help meet your revenue goals, and it’s an intermediate solution for the products most affected by supply chain issues.

Lean on repeat customers

Customers who have shopped with you before are more likely to give you a break on issues that are outside of your control. Take a look at your customer retention rate (here are 7 retention metrics to measure right now), and get an idea of the customers that have come back to place another order in the months after their first purchase with you.

Customer Retention by Cohort

This will help you segment your audience, providing insight into which cohorts will respond positively to your invitation for early shopping and which ones may churn regardless of what you offer. Similarly, this could also help with decisions regarding what kind of new customers to target with your marketing dollars.

If these holidays won’t participate, make up your own

Had you heard of Prime Day or Singles’ Day when you were still asking Santa for toys? No one had. That is, until savvy marketers decided that the power of big shopping weekends like Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be unleashed more than once a year.

If you’re falling short of revenue goals this holiday season due to supply chain struggles, don’t panic. Consider moving some resources into making the first quarter of 2022 bigger than usual. It might even be worth banding together with some friendly competitors to popularize your idea. It’s worked for independent bookstores and record shops. Why can’t it work for your industry?

Listen to customers and data this holiday season

Planning and communication will be more important than ever as the holidays approach. Just as you’ll be keeping a close eye on your support inbox to monitor conversations with your customers, make sure you’re getting daily updates on your Shopify data as well so you can understand the trends that reveal themselves within patterns of your data.

If you’re still feeling uncertain about the best way to use your data this holiday season, take a look at our Black Friday Cyber Monday data guide, and if you’re ready for instant access to 100+ metrics that will help you make better decisions year-round, Peel’s automated analytics platform can help you unlock your data. Try it free for 15 days.