With the holiday season around the corner, digital commerce businesses are stepping up their efforts in making calculated estimates, forecasting shoppers’ preferences, stockpiling on sought-after products, predicting spikes, sensing demand dips, strengthening supplier and partner network for uninterrupted deliveries, pointing out gaps and making sure to weed out any leaks from their ecosystem.
Smarter commerce businesses prepare for shopping bonanzas on a war footing by preparing employees for longer shifts, overtime, and by putting their best foot forward in terms of customer service and experience.
However, what they sometimes end up overlooking or overestimating is how technologically ready they are. Considering the unique technological environment most businesses operate in, it is often a decision that usually doesn’t escape the top management’s chambers.
Here are a few of the crucial technological or systemic factors that need to be thought over before heading into a holiday season:
The Question of Scalability
The most crucial of them is, can your existing system take the pressure that holiday seasons come with? Is it equipped enough for bulk orders, immediate demands due to sudden trends, or any other unprecedented factor? Can you execute planned or spur-of-the-moment flash sales without worrying over system crashes? What if the traffic goes up to 2x or 3x of your projected number or even more than that?
Is there enough flexibility to add ‘n’ number of assortments, introduce new lines of products without obsessing over putting any extra load on the system or making your system vulnerable for glitches or, worse, breakdowns?
Each of these questions must have a clear answer before you head for holiday season selling.
Shopping season readiness is incomplete without omnichannel readiness. Shoppers check something out on one channel, change their mind and explore a similar product on another channel, or check the same product for an additional discount on a mobile app, and so on. This multidimensional shopping behavior of customers offer businesses an excellent opportunity to maximize the number of meaningful interactions with customers
In fact, offering seamless customer experiences to shoppers is not an option anymore, particularly in the intensely competitive market of today, where success is impossible without providing well-blended and well-rounded omnichannel experiences.
Though cross-channel shopping is not restricted to the holiday season only, it becomes an essential capability during this time.
Easy Integration with Other Apps
Getting a best-of-breed eCommerce solution for your commerce needs is great, but questions still need to be answered, particularly about its integration with other platforms and apps. A highly advanced but incompatible commerce platform will not get businesses very far during a shopping season or even during regular business days. For instance, what if compatibility issues occur between your legacy Order management system (OMS) or the existing ERP? Such issues are real and cost businesses dearly.
These are not issues that aren’t uncommon, even in huge corporations, with very high revenues, operating in multiple geographies. As a matter of fact, integration complexities are quite common due to a heavy focus on various business priorities. Besides, tangled management structures make it difficult.
An eCommerce platform that does not hand over businesses the power to innovate, mold, and customize functionalities and extensions according to their needs, which may require “expert’s support,” making independent development impossible, draws businesses into a web of high costs.
Holiday seasons are the times when businesses want to experiment with new extensions, microsite integrations, enhancements of features, implementation of specific rule engines, creating new linkages, and developing new workflows for faster processing or meeting particular needs.
This is where a flexible eCommerce solution comes in handy, where the control lies with enterprises so that time consumption in making such enhancements can be minimized.
Product Data and Content Management
Though not a part of an eCommerce system, product data management, and content management play a pivotal role in product discovery, exploration, and delivery of information to the end-user. Accurate, up-to-the-minute, consistent product information, that is ascertainable and discoverable, in a user-friendly way, and can be engaged with easily and effectively—is the real driver of eCommerce. This includes digital media assets that are needed to convey product features effectively. Therefore, an eCommerce system relies heavily on both these aspects to make products not just more attractive but also deliver the qualities of the products highly effectively.
Therefore, the package of eCommerce, CMS, and product information management has immense power to influence consumers behaviors and is something that can be of great advantage during the holiday season.
Holiday seasons are the testing times for businesses, as a good season sale can help organizations comfortably sail through the year. Hence, to make the most of it is paramount.
Besides, holiday shopping is not just about fulfilling customers’ hearts’ desires; it’s also about the desires that stay below the surface, the latent wants, deferred wish lists, or impulse purchase triggers. Lastly, before any enterprise heads into a shopping season sale, it’s imperative for them to be cognizant of how newer technologies can help them get closer to their customers. Technologies such as AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) are blending with shopping seamlessly and are soon becoming an inseparable part of product launches and experience in general.
Quite clearly, shoppers’ expectations are going up and further up with every holiday season. And to satisfy them, it will take businesses to be constantly on top of their game.