3 Aspect of Your Holiday Campaign You Need to Think About Now
by Thill Inc. | Sept. 9, 2016
For most DRTV clients, the holiday season means big business. But fourth quarter demands can also be a big hassle that can quickly become a disaster for you and your customers if you don’t plan accordingly.
Customers have a lot of options when it comes to holiday shopping. As a seller, you have to find a way to set yourself apart from the competition, manage your online reputation, and convert sales.
The customer service experience – from shipment to unboxing to returns – is critical.
And when unexpected glitches affect your customer’s ability to give a holiday gift to someone they love, the boomerang effect can be downright fatal for your company.
Here are three critical aspects you need to think about as you head into the busiest time of the year, whether you’re using a third-party fulfiller (3PL) or doing it yourself:
Plan for a Customer’s Worst-Case Scenario
The winter holidays bring with it a whole slew of potential complications throughout the supply chain. Large volume spikes mean you must anticipate for increased inventory needs. Greater demands on the system can create unpredictable lags in shipping times. And bad weather can shut down roadways, slow delivery times and affect the availability of your staff.
You can’t control the weather, but you can change your approach to dealing with obstacles affecting your customer’s experience.
Be proactive. Brainstorm potential complications and how you can prevent them from escalating in advance. Social media is a great low-cost, real-time option to keep your customers informed about topics like order cut-off dates for guaranteed delivery, carrier shipping delays, backordered products or alternative gift ideas.
Talk with your customer service team and develop a strategy that specifically addresses how they can turn these types of challenges into a superior customer service experience.
Create a game plan for how you intend to manage inventory and deal with back orders, paying particular attention to suppliers who switch to a holiday production schedule.
There’s no way to anticipate every scenario, but you can put checks and balances in place to keep your process fluid and adaptable.
And then give your customer service team the discretion to compensate customers – with free product or discounts – when you can’t provide an immediate solution for them.
Know How You Intend to Deal with Fraud
One of the top challenges sellers face during the holiday season is fraudulent purchases and returns. Put the proper business practices in place up front to minimize your financial risk.
Use simple and effective fraud prevention measures, like Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) codes.
Create clear, specific protocols that everyone on your team understands.
Educate your staff about how they can identify counterfeit merchandise and document it.
Build strong working relationships with your vendors and discuss how each of you intend to handle fraud. For example, make sure you have as a clear understanding with your merchant bank about how to report and deal with charge-back scams.
Encourage information sharing with your team, suppliers and vendors, so you can learn about the latest scams and how others are handling similar situations effectively.
No one can eradicate fraud entirely. However, if you identify it early and deal with it immediately, you can drastically change the impact fraud has on your business.
Develop a Comprehensive Returns Management Plan
Increased sales means increased returns. And nothing upsets a customer more than a return that isn’t processed correctly or refunded immediately.
Resolve now how you intend to handle holiday returns from beginning to end.
First, you need to decide what your return policy will be during the holidays and whether gifting changes your approach.
Some companies offer an extended return policy, but sellers need to evaluate whether that make sense for them based on the costs associated with their business model, product and price point.
Other companies leave returns to the discretion of their customer service team, based on the quality of the return and the circumstance for it.
Once you decide what the policies will be for holiday returns, you need to instruct your warehousing team about how you want returns executed on the inventory side, including which items are eligible for refurbishment.
An effective, reliable and predictable returns process allows you to recover the value of the product and saves you money in the long run. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to interact with the customer and transform a return into an exchange.
Make Your Holiday Campaign Successful by Planning Ahead
The holidays are a special time of year for most shoppers. They want the satisfaction of giving the perfect widget to someone they love; not deal with the disappointment of unavailable products, delayed shipments or the hassle of returning the wrong size.
Customers expect a seamless shopping experience and nothing will affect your bottom line more than how you treat your customers.
Satisfied customers have an exponential lifetime value to you and your company.
Unhappy customers cost you time and money – in customer service support, acquisition costs, loss of revenue and the reputation damage they’ll do when they share their negative experience, by word of mouth and on social media. It always costs more to replace a dissatisfied customer than doing what’s necessary to make things right and save the sale.
If you plan ahead with a holiday strategy that gives your staff the resources and flexibility they need to provide an excellent customer service experience, your holiday preparation will boost your earnings and propel your company’s growth into the New Year.
About Thill Inc.
Thill Inc. is a privately held technology company that provides ecommerce outsourcing services, including fulfillment, customer service & analytics. They provide companies with creative & flexible solutions that utilize a customized combination of software platforms, strategic locations & professional expertise. Thill has operations in Wisconsin, Georgia, Kansas, Nevada & Texas. For more information about Thill Inc. or its services, please visit www.thillinc.com.