There are always benefits to getting a head start on your client’s holiday and seasonal orders. Usually they revolve around beating the rush, gaining an edge on competition and avoiding last-minute mayhem. This year, the driving force is the pandemic. It has heightened the stakes beyond anything we’ve previously experienced.
Get Started Even Earlier
People will start to make holiday purchases sooner than usual spurred by the fog of uncertainty that has spanned almost the entire year. These critical factors are eliciting consumers (including your client’s employees!) to eagerly square away shopping early this upcoming season:
New economic struggles lead companies trying to stretch their budgets further, meaning consumers will be particularly keen on taking advantage of deals. Amazon Prime Day’s postponement to October could ignite holiday buying since it’s now much closer to Cyber Week.
Product shortages became a notorious media headline due to factory shutdowns and demand surges. Remember when puzzles puzzled everyone by selling out at the start of the lockdown because people were looking for at-home entertainment options? Hot categories for the holiday wishlist this year: comfortable apparel, home essentials and kids’ toys. People will want to secure coveted items early.
We’ve already experienced delivery services becoming overloaded due to the increased reliance on eCommerce when stores closed during the lockdown. In addition to waiting for backordered items to come in, companies like Amazon prioritized shipping essential items over non-essential. Shoppers are primed to expect more of that and know planning ahead is in their best interests. In addition, FedEx and UPS announced higher than normal surcharges, and USPS will implement surcharges for the first time, which people will want to avoid.
Optimize for Online
Holiday shoppers will not be flocking in-person to stores like previous years. Even with re-openings, long-time buyer habits changed due to fears of health and aversions to public restrictions, further solidified by the potential loom of future closures . People have already been increasingly migrating towards eCommerce for convenience. The pandemic amplifies the trajectory by four to six years, reaching 70% year-over-year growth in May worth $82.5 billion in the U.S. More people are shopping online for the first time and for products they normally buy in-store. The trend will continue to snowball: Salesforce projects that digital channels will produce up to 30% of global retail sales this upcoming holiday season.
Given the current economic landscape and consumer behavior response to operational changes, an online solution is best for your client’s promotional product offering. With a large percentage of the workforce working at home, most companies won’t be able to simply drop gifts off at employees’ desks. Online stores streamline the process and ensure all the details are covered and systemized – ideal for collecting and fulfilling large orders quickly, accurately and painlessly.
While there are many eCommerce or online store packages available on the market, an industry specific platform will make it easier for you to manage your client’s seasonal program. Internal purchasing needs are significantly more intricate than traditional consumer needs. Here is a snapshot of special considerations for the promotional products industry:
- Managing user accounts
- Utilizing permissions for groups of users
- Creating tiered pricing levels
- Setting spending limits
- Specifying dollars or points
- Managing your client’s artwork
- Allowing for personalization on products
- Ensuring the correct logo is used on every product
- Following your client’s specific brand guidelines for store design
Fortunately, there are a wide range of options that offer as much or little robustness and flexibility as you need to support these nuances: a Company, Simple or Redemption store. These solutions are scalable to help you adapt to changing needs and expectations. You’ll be sufficiently equipped to anticipate the unexpected: the winning strategy in 2020.
Identify the Right Store Solution
With so many options on the market, how do you determine the right solution for your clients’ needs? Ask your clients questions that assess their vision and needs:
- What is the store’s purpose?
How do you want your store to function? What should it look like? Is the store temporary for the season, or will you need more longevity?
- Will the products be purchased or given away as gifts?
Are you giving the products away as gifts? Do you want them to be able to pick one gift or five? Or are items going to be sold for purchase? Is payment through a credit card or billed to a department or purchase order?
- What brand guides does the store’s look and feel need to meet?
Does the store just need to match their colors and showcase the logo and a nice welcome banner? Or does it need to be a really well-defined, branded solution that meets specific guidelines?
- What experience do they want the shopper to have?
What does the flow look like from start to finish?
- Will your store need users and user accounts?
Do you want people to create their own user accounts or just enter name and information to checkout?
- How will shipping be managed?
Will the company cover shipping costs, or do you need to charge the shopper?
This approach will help narrow down options without overwhelming your client. Best of all, you will reach an outcome that achieves your client’s goals in a smooth, timely manner. If you’re looking for a quick and easy setup, you may want to launch a Simple Store. A need to distribute gifts to employees without showing prices or collecting payment will lead you to our Redemption Stores. Does your client want to apply different permissions to user groups? Elevate to a Company Store. We clarify the benefits of our store varieties in our Preparing for Seasonal Orders with Company and Simple Stores webinar. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet!
Discussing each foundational element of the store with your client gives you the information you need to guide your client’s roadmap this holiday season. You will be able to identify the right-sized solution with the appropriate degree of robustness and agility that sets them up for success – no matter what unforeseen events surface along the way.