For many businesses, especially retailers, the holidays are the most wonderful (and profitable) time of the year. Based on the number of shipments flying out of our warehouse and on what our eCommerce clients are saying, sales continue to be strong.
Adobe Analytics reported big upswings in sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As you might expect, more shoppers were buying online than ever before. The rush of holiday eCommerce doesn’t stop there, those trends are expected to continue through the end of the year. The National Retail Federation has said it expects the season’s retail sales to be 4.3 to 4.8 percent higher than last year’s; Internet Retailer’s analysis projects a 15.5 percent increase in holiday season online sales this year.
At such a hectic time, it might seem odd to talk about planning for next year. But actually, the timing is perfect because at this very moment huge amounts of data are being delivered through point-of-sales systems. Ignoring this data is like throwing away your shovel as you sit on top of a gold mine.
Grab your shovel and dig deep into personalization
Some companies simply look at the bottom line, comparing this year’s or season’s sales with the same period last year. If sales are up, they might stop scrutinizing the numbers, satisfied that their business is growing.
Let’s dig deeper than that.
An inventory management system like the one we use makes digging easy. It has 150 standardized reports, but it also allows us to produce specialized analyses of data. Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to know where customers who bought your down coat live. We can handle that. After you determine where this coat sold best, you can promote it through direct mail or email marketing to others with similar income levels and lifestyles in the same region. This is data-driven eCommerce strategy. Use what you have to improve the messages your customers get.
When shopping online, how often have you seen the “you may also like” or “customers who bought this item also bought” sections? This is data-driven eCommerce in action prompting additional sales based on product and customers information.
One of the best indicators of business success is repeat customers. Divvy up your data so you can see the percentage of repeat vs. new customers, then come up with ways to target your loyal customers more personally. Perhaps through a direct mail flyer or an e-mail, you can show them products that are similar or complementary to those they have purchased in the past. For example, if a customer has bought baking tools from you, promote a cake cookbook you are selling this year. To turn new customers into continuing ones, reinforce and solidify the relationship by offering them a discount on their next purchase. Or, you might want to send a “thank-you for shopping with us/tell you about your experience” message to new customers. This not only gives them the opportunity to express their comments or concerns but also you the opportunity to learn from them.
If you used targeted marketing during the holidays, your data will provide insight as to how effective those campaigns were. Suppose you sent a direct mail postcard that included a coupon with a discount code. We can produce a report showing you orders that used that code so you can measure the campaign’s effectiveness.
By reviewing sales volume for individual products, you are able to think strategically about what products to push and which to pull back on for the coming year. This data-driven eCommerce prompts you to think ahead, and plan your manufacturing or purchasing needs. Not to mention, compete with the big dogs. All done well ahead of the most wonderful–and, we hope–prosperous time of the year.
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