November 2, 2016
Holiday 2016 is right around the corner. For many retailers and ecommerce companies, visions of sugarplums are replaced by forecasts and promotional schedules dancing in their heads.
This year, holiday ecommerce sales in the U.S. are projected to hit $94.71 billion and the holiday season accounts for about 23.8% of U.S. retailers’ annual sales.
A few things to note:
Don’t count on Amazon
Amazon is not accepting holiday shipments for new-to-Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sellers. On an Amazon seller forum, a user posted the following message from Amazon, explaining that new sellers would only be allowed to start shipping with FBA on December 19th — causing them to miss the critical Thanksgiving weekend sales period and holiday shipments:
“We are restricting shipments from new-to-FBA sellers to ensure we have the capacity necessary to receive and store inventory and to ship products to customers quickly. If you have not completed your first shipment to Amazon before October 10, 2016, we encourage you to start shipping to Amazon after December 19, 2016. We encourage you to continue selling on Amazon and fulfilling orders directly to customers. We apologize for any inconvenience. If the situation changes before December 19, 2016, we will notify you by e-mail. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
This announcement came as a surprise to many. As an alternative to Amazon, we recommend quickly connecting to pre-established retail channels and selling through their marketplaces in order to catch some 2016 holiday sales. In the meantime, you can work to set up your own channel for 2017.
Retail’s biggest day
RetailNext projects that Friday, December 23rd will be the biggest in-store sales date (Black Friday traditionally claims this title) and that December 17th, “Super Saturday,” will be the biggest day for in-store traffic. Ecommerce promotions during the month of November have disrupted previous holiday trends and some retailers have felt the impact of no longer having highly concentrated sales days.
Shopping cart abandonment
A strategy for timing promotions and landing the perfect product assortment is important, but companies often neglect to give the same attention to their cart conversions. Shopping cart abandonment during Black Friday continues to grow; on Black Friday 2015, shopping cart abandonment rate was 72.81%. Higher-than-anticipated shipping costs are often to blame for customers leaving empty handed, so it makes sense to offer free shipping, affordable shipping or a ship-to-store option to combat this problem.
Holiday post mortem
At the end of your holiday season — or following any major product launch or peak period, for that matter — it’s important to reflect on and record successes and failures. Schedule this review soon after the event is over, so that all the details are remembered.
Peak season prep
Thorough planning is critical to a successful peak season. Ideally, preparation happens year round. We have some helpful resources on hand to help you with planning, including an on demand webinar, Top 10 Tips for Peak Season.
We also value a culture of transparency and to that end, would like to share what we do to prepare for the holiday season. In years past, we’ve shared traditional calendars with important dates, but as our network has grown, it made more sense to centralize related information in a Peak Season Microsite, which is much easier to consume and offers more detail than we’ve been able to share historically. Here, customers can find last dates to ship in time for the holidays, carrier schedule modifications, fulfillment center schedules, performance alerts and more.