Holiday 2022 checklist: Can you deliver the magic?
5 MINS READ
Holiday season is all about new products, attractive offers, and great assortments. But behind this, there is a lot of hard work—from onboarding new suppliers to making price and promotion entries for thousands of SKUs—that is often stressful.
Spending precious time and resources on activities that don’t add value such as data collection, validation, and maintenance severely limits the ability to grab revenue and sales opportunities.
Retailers should assess their operational readiness with a checklist covering six key areas (pricing and promotions, product and supplier onboarding, digital experience management, digital marketing, customer service, and augmented analytics) to deliver a stellar holiday season.
Getting ready for the holiday season amid inflation
Inflation this year is at a 40-year high across the US and the UK, with energy, food, and rental costs spiralling.
The prices consumers pay for goods and services were up 8.5% in July from a year ago, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bank of England (BOE) anticipates inflation will hit 13% later in the year.
With shoppers seeking value and being careful about every penny they spend, retail margins could be flat, and the risk of losing customers to competitors seems very real. Given these macroeconomic pressures, business leaders are focusing on recalibrating cost structures and maintaining profit margins this holiday season.
Year-on-year, retailers hire additional labor to scale operations in the festive season—not just store associates, but also for back-end operations such as making pricing and promotion entries. By spending precious time and resources on activities like data collection, validation, and maintenance, which don’t add much value, they miss out on significant opportunities to grab sales and increase revenue.
Now’s the time for retailers to review their operational readiness to deliver a stellar holiday season. This checklist can help them take on the busiest season of the year with confidence.
Intelligent process automation (IPA) can build enterprise agility and help retailers respond in real time to fast-changing consumer trends.
Pricing and promotions
This holiday will be marked by a more restrained shopping behavior from customers seeking value amid rising prices.
That means you need to react to competitor prices in real time with a clear understanding of the impact on demand, sales, margin, and cannibalization. And without compromising on price perception.
☐ Can you respond in real time to competitor prices?
☐ Can you offer personalized pricing and promotions?
☐ How quickly can you set the initial price for new products?
☐ Can you tailor promotions to shape demand based on inventory?
☐ Are you able to experiment with pricing strategies?
☐ Can you execute short-term and short-turnaround promotions to capture waning demand?
☐ Can you evaluate margin impact due to changes in cost price?
☐ How are markdowns impacting price perception and profit margins?
☐ Are key value items (KVIs) priced lower than competition?
Product and supplier onboarding
Responding in real time to consumer trends will be a game changer, especially during the holiday season.
When there is a sudden surge in demand for a new product, retailers need to quickly onboard suppliers and products or renegotiate vendor contracts when cost increases to drive profit margins and grab sales opportunities.
☐ How quick and incident-free are the supplier and product onboarding processes?
☐ Does the supplier onboarding process require a lot of manual interventions?
☐ Can you identify where the process is stuck and what is causing delays in onboarding a supplier?
☐ Can you get products to your shelves faster than competition?
☐ Are suppliers able to complete the product onboarding with minimum intervention from you?
Digital experience management
Customers are likely to go elsewhere in the event of a bad experience such as a broken link or longer image loading time.
Retailers, therefore, need to push the envelope to optimize sites and apps for a great digital experience.
☐ Can customers find products with voice or image search?
☐ Can they find products even if the search term doesn’t exactly match product tagging?
☐ What is the ranking of the product page or ecommerce site for product-specific keyword search?
☐ Are products easy to find on search engines?
☐ Is faceted search on the ecommerce site meaningful for shoppers?
☐ Is the content rich and relevant across all digital touchpoints?
☐ Can you roll out product innovations quickly?
☐ How quick and seamless is the checkout experience on the ecommerce site?
In a world that is more virtual and connected than ever before, retailers must get their digital marketing mix spot on to gain wallet share.
Further, with the deprecation of third-party cookies, marketers will have limited access to vital consumer data and will need to seek innovative ways to curate personalized ads.
☐ Is your website ranking higher for branded keywords than non-branded keywords?
☐ Are you spending more time structuring URLs based on the page content?
☐ Are your social media posts a one-way communication?
☐ Are your pay-per-click (PPC) budgets seasonal?
☐ Do you need to be a programmer to extract data from IT systems?
☐ Are there multiple systems that store data for a given report/view?
Retailers will be flooded with calls and queries as shopping is likely to be at an all-time high during the holiday season.
And customers will expect immediacy and empathy in your response.
☐ Are you able to proactively inform customers about potential shipment delays?
☐ Do service agents have up-to-date critical information to service customer queries?
☐ Are you able to quickly redress customers’ negative feedback on social media?
☐ If already leveraging chat bots, can they decode sarcasm and good, neutral, and bad customer reviews?
☐ Can chatbots intelligently route difficult queries to the right human agent?
☐ Is the customer satisfaction (CSAT) score better than the previous holiday season?
Responding to emerging scenarios with agility, accuracy, and confidence requires analytics solutions that provide business teams with contextual insights proactively or on demand.
☐ Can business teams access data and reports without having to navigate through a labyrinth of screens and systems?
☐ Can the teams access insights in real time by asking conversational questions?
How is sales trending today?
How is conversion today compared to yesterday?
Which category has the highest conversion?
How many people from Seattle bought shirt A?
What’s the return rate on category B?
How many customers have subscribed to newsletters?
What is the most sold item this season?
☐ Do they get autogenerated contextual insights with data visualization and suggestions to explore further?
Turn challenges into opportunities
The upcoming holidays present opportunities disguised as challenges for retailers.
The argument for retooling the business operations of the house has never been stronger. Intelligent process automation (IPA) can build enterprise agility and help retailers respond in real time to consumer trends, such as a sudden surge in demand for a new product, by quickly onboarding suppliers and products or renegotiating vendor contracts when cost increases.