Brace yourself, things are going to get really hectic! Much more than before in Africa, the e-commerce landscape is increasing and with consumers having increased access to the Internet via mobile technology and a fast-growing middle class, Africa is awake to shopping online as evident in konga.com’s version of ‘Black Friday’ this year raking a record sales of over N1.2 billion.
The festive period of December have always been the period where sales sour and shopping go beyond the usual numbers. It is that season when publicity fly everywhere with lots of enticing offers looking to attract more customers so as to make more sales. And a period where customers spend the most in the year. So as expected-you look to position your business to take advantage of the season-attract more customers. while you’re at this, you want everything to go smoothly. you want more customers to flood your online store, click on the add to cart button or contact us button, etc but wait a minute, say you have your wish, and you can imagine sales high in numbers, have you ever taken the time to ask yourself this simple question: How prepared is your online store for the festive rush? To help you further get things right this season, it is important you put some thoughts into perspective. what do customers expect from your online store this season? Online shoppers face a lot of risks when they purchase online, and especially in a rush season like December. They would expect you to be on top of your game. why you need to get prepared? may not sound like much to your business, but put in mind that the result of your service this season can be good for your relationship with your customers or leave a sour dent. Lets look at some key aspects of your business that you need to tighten up preparation for this period to have a profitable festive season shopping rush:
How much traffic can you handle?
With e-Commerce Holiday Trends, which showing that November and December drive 30 percent more e-commerce revenue than non-holiday months, it is safe to say online stores should be ready for a surge in traffic. To prevent unforeseeable occurrences which could lead to so many technical jargon, make sure your store is in order to handle the traffic it gets.
Have your technical team handy; If you run an independent online store, you can source freelancers to go over your online store to fix bugs and upgrade design where necessary.
How updated are your contents?
Go over all the products uploaded online, go through their descriptions if they are correct and precise, check photo quality, check to see if whats in stock correlates to what’s displayed on your store.
How ready are you to satisfy customer orders?
After a customer places an order, the next thing on their mind is when their order gets to their hands. How prepared is your supply chain? have you put in every aspects of delivery into consideration? for example in a really jam-packed city like Lagos, Nigeria, traffic can be crazy especially in this season. Can you deliver customer orders on-time as promised? Well in the words of Oliver Facey, vice president of operations for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa on a reaction to the 2015 benchmark report series; e-commerce Holiday Trends, warns “Many platforms offer free or express shipping options, promotions and discounts. All of these are geared to drive and maximize sales when consumer spending is at its peak. This is a crucial part for retailers, as overselling a product or service, and then being unable to deliver has the potential to do far more harm than good.”
“Retailers need to ensure their supply chain management is agile enough to handle the increased volume. To maximize profitability, retailers need quick, smart, cost-effective methods to fulfill orders punctually and accurately across multiple sales channels. Effective reverse logistics is also essential for managing returns and keeping the industry moving.”
Try increasing your delivery channels for this season. If you have one bike-delivery man, try leveraging on freelance delivery men with their own bikes to do third-party delivery for businesses; for this kind of arrangement, trust can be an issue, so be smart to scrutinize or better start now before the sales rust start to get familiar and build trust with them.
How ready is your customer service?
A customer-centric approach to business would be ideal in such a period as this. What are you doing to reward your customers? what are you doing to delight them? what happens if customer keeps rescheduling an order already being processed? who pays for the loss? how much of those scenario of rescheduling of orders can you handle at a time? You would have loads of order to even have tie to be patient with customers, but how prepared are you to listen to your customers to give value? Your availability to customers when they need you would help assure customers of their confidence in you that someone is out there who listens to them when they need help.
Try working on separating overseeing from operations in this period as much as possible. Overseeing would help you have a sane mind to handle whats to come and help you meet target with sales, capacity, and customer satisfaction. If you have enough, having ad-hoc staff is not a bad idea to ease off the stress.
Bottom-line; getting more sales and emptying your stock sounds like a great idea, however don’t get too carried away with how much sales you project to make that you forget to work on your capacity to handle the demands especially in these festive seasons.