For shoppers, “the most wonderful time of the year” lasts from late November to December. But for ecommerce brands, the preparation for the holiday shopping season starts long before that.
To make the most of holiday promotions—and to ensure sufficient stock to keep retailers and customers happy—brands should be preparing now for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the entire holiday shopping season. Here’s how:
When preparing for the holiday shopping season, your first step should be identifying your promotional strategy. This strategy should include detailed plans on which products you want to promote from your catalog, how you plan to price these products, and when you want to begin the promotion. This information should then be clearly communicated to retailers as soon as possible.
Only after making these decisions can you accurately predict the lift you should expect to see during holiday promotions. Looking at historical data is the best way to predict what your sales will be like. Focus on analyzing data of like products with like price points and like discounts. Brands should then plan on having enough stock to cover the anticipated lift in sales plus or minus 10%.
When crafting your holiday promotional strategy, flexibility is key. You may initially plan on offering 25% off a product but then see that your competitors are offering 30% off when Thanksgiving rolls around. To avoid losing sales to competitors, prepare a game plan to move to a more competitive price if necessary. Communicate this plan to retailers so all sellers are on the same page and you’re not damaging retailer relationships by selling below your established price.
It’s also important to keep in mind that November and December see a natural uptick in ecommerce traffic and sales even without deep discounts or holiday promotions. In addition to the lift from Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, brands should also prepare for increased incremental sales of full-price products because of increased ecommerce traffic during the holiday shopping season.
Seasonal brands should begin planning their holiday shopping promotions with about a 12 month lead time. Brands that replenish inventory more often should begin communicating their holiday shopping promotions to retailers between 6-8 months before the shopping season starts. At the 6-month mark, it’s a good idea to hone in on your shipping times so your retailers’ supply chains are prepared. If you feel like you’re already behind, see what steps you can take today to get back on track.
Try to plan to have your shipment receipts to your retailers by the first week of November, making sure you have enough product to cover your holiday timeframe with a month’s worth of lead time to get ahead of any possible delays. Aligning your receipt flow to arrive well before you expect it to sell improves your cash flow and allows for supply chains to be more nimble. That’s why it’s so important to have a correct demand sales forecast—without it, you can’t have a correct receipt flow. These principles apply year-round but are especially important as sales increase during the holidays.
Prepare your own supply chains to both account for ongoing import delays and to ensure there’s enough buffer time for your retailers. Have safety stock on hand so you can replenish for December as needed if Black Friday goes well.
Preparing and planning marketing assets are another important factor in preparing for the holiday shopping season. Make sure you have your best products featured in your marketing, and coordinate with your vendors to see if you’re going to be featured in any of their marketing efforts.
For brands that sell exclusively on Amazon, it’s worth syncing with Amazon to see if your product can be featured as a Deal of the Day or through other marketing opportunities or advertising spending. Plan this marketing well in advance so you know when the promotions will release and what kind of impact they’ll make on your sales and inventory.
Brands shouldn’t expect this holiday shopping season to mirror 2020, even if the world still hasn’t quite returned to a pre-pandemic normal.
The 2020 season was an anomaly not only because of increased ecommerce traffic, but also because of a later-than-usual Prime Day. While Prime Day normally occurs in the summer, supply chain issues postponed it until October last year, which triggered the holiday shopping season early and forced brands to be aggressive with pricing from October until the end of the year.
Since Prime Day 2021 happened in the summer, brands should expect a smaller cyber timeframe this year. Still, it’s a good idea to prepare for higher ecommerce demand than was typical pre-COVID, since many shoppers have grown accustomed to the convenience of ecommerce.
When you’re working hard to stay above water with your day-to-day ecommerce operations, it can be overwhelming to plan far enough in advance to take full advantage of holiday shopping promotions. It can also be challenging to access the data you need to accurately predict the kind of lift you’ll see during the holidays and prepare your stock and supply chains accordingly.
Pattern simplifies these processes for brands. Our world-class ecommerce teams and state-of-the-art software help brands make data-backed decisions to accelerate their growth on ecommerce year-round, and these services are available at no additional cost to you. Interested in learning more? Request a demo to see how our experts can guide you through the holiday ecommerce frenzy.
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Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.