As crazy as it might seem in many ways to be even thinking about the end of the year, the fact remains that it tends to be just after Halloween onwards that customers turn their attentions to Christmas gift buying, running right up to Christmas Eve.
Retail phenomena like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have helped to turned the festive shopping season into something more than a frenzied couple of weeks’ buying immediately before Christmas.
However, it also seems unlikely that the COVID-19 pandemic will have become a mere bad memory by the time customers start their Christmas buying in 2020. So, how should the added complexity that the lingering virus brings affect your ecommerce firm’s festive preparations?
Navigating the persistent uncertainty around the pandemic
One of the problems with this subject, of course, is that no one truly knows what course the coronavirus outbreak will take in the UK and any other territories that your store might serve, even a month from now – never mind in another five or six months.
While monthly estimates have shown, for instance, that UK GDP fell by a frankly frightening 20.4% in April 2020, it is far from certain whether there will be a slow, fast or medium-paced economic recovery – or indeed, any immediate recovery.
This will also inevitably be influenced by such factors as the longer-term jobless figures and how much cash shoppers have in their pockets to spend as sources of support like the UK’s employee furlough scheme are gradually wound down.
Another statistic that you are likely to have noticed as an ecommerce store owner – at least in terms of the level of demand you have experienced from your own customers – is the sharp recent jump in Internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales in Great Britain. While this was 18.9% as recently as February, the ratio had vaulted to 32.8% by May.
Again, though, what is the long-term trend likely to be here, as more and more brick-and-mortar stores – even for ‘inessential’ sectors – reopen? A fast recovery, slow recovery or no recovery are different scenarios that could drastically impact your planning here, before you even consider how comfortable shoppers are likely to be with returning to physical stores.
There are still some actions, though, that you can take
As frustrating as the current uncertainty is, as an online merchant, you don’t have to simply throw your hands up and give up until more information is known about, for example, the likelihood of a much-talked-about ‘second wave’ of the virus.
Instead, take such concrete actions now as contacting your suppliers to ensure inventory will be available for Christmas, pinpointing any potential inventory issues and placing orders early if possible.
Also look at what your arrangements will be for delivering this inventory to customers, while contemplating what delivery disruptions could occur in the event of a ‘second wave’ and another lockdown, perhaps based on your store’s experiences the first time around.
Don’t be afraid, too, to ask your site’s customers about their festive shopping plans. What would they like to see your store doing or offering when the Christmas season arrives?
Finally, it’s a good idea to review your store’s online presence and what your needs for it are likely to be in the coming months. Could now be the time to get in touch with website design, mobile app or SEO marketing professionals like ours here at Piranha Designs, so that you can be sure of your store being as ‘COVID-19 ready’ as it can be from the autumn or winter onwards?
Now’s the time to make the moves to place your online store in the best possible position for success throughout what could be a tricky winter period – simply get in touch with our experts today to learn more.