26 August 2020

Preparing for online sales peaks: 5 ways retailers can stay ahead of the curve

We have put together 5 handy tips on preparing for the future of online sales in this easy to read guide, check it out.

Beata Brewer, Customer Experience Manager

So how can retailers be better prepared for any future influxes in online orders?

At the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown, certain retail sectors saw online sales increase by 200%. And our own data shows that posting volumes for our customers was 117% higher during lockdown than 2019’s Christmas peak. Those that were able to quickly adapt to the sudden change in shopper behaviour and could continue to provide the online retail experience expected by today’s internet savvy shoppers, were undoubtedly in a better position to weather the storm.

From our experience of working with the retail sector, exploiting all available resources to meet sudden increases in online demand and giving shoppers convenient access to goods is key.

Here’s how you can do it…

1. Utilise Ship from Store functionality.

During lockdown many retailers were faced with High Street store closures and unprecedented demand on virtual shop fronts. Retailers that embraced Ship from Store functionality were able to utilise their idling bricks and mortar stores as mini-warehouses to help fulfil online demand.

2. Consider automated label printing.

This is a great bolt on to the Ship from Store functionality. Once a shipment is booked via the delivery management software, a locally installed app bridges the gap between the retailer’s account and the printing hardware, instantly printing the labels and shipping documents to the correct printer. We call this ‘Silent Printing’. Handy if you want to ship from multiple outlets, allowing you to assign each order to a particular store from one central point. It’s also a useful tool for warehouses or fulfilment centres that pick and pack items on behalf of retailers.

3. Expand your delivery options – convenience is key!

As a result of Covid-19, more and more shoppers are making their purchase decisions online to minimise time in store. And with delivery slots in demand, retailers that offer shoppers multiple ways to receive their goods – such as Click & Collect or Collect+ – are undoubtedly in a stronger position to retain business. And remember, delivery works both ways; consider the tentative shopper who has made their first trip to the High Street since lockdown only to find the shoes they wanted aren’t in stock. Providing them with the option to order from store but have delivered to home may be just the incentive they need to prevent them looking elsewhere.

4. Two carriers (or three or four) are better than one

Working with multiple carriers allows you to offer your shoppers greater delivery options and makes it easier to negotiate any disruptions to delivery services.

5. Don’t forget returns!

Delivery doesn’t just cover the journey to the shopper’s front door. Having an efficient returns process is just as important to securing and retaining customers. A significant proportion of shoppers – 67% – check a brand’s returns page before making a purchase. And consumers are 92% more likely to continue shopping with a brand if the retailer lets them know when their refund will be made or replacement items sent.

With the Covid-19 crisis showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon, eCommerce demand will continue to peak for some time as we face the uncertain months that follow the pandemic. Particularly as we approach key periods in the retail calendar, such as mid-season sales, Black Friday and the Christmas period. Retailers that put plans in place now will undoubtedly be better prepared to maximise the opportunities this bring for the eCommerce sector.

For more insight and guidance on preparing your retail business for future changes in demand, read our latest guide, “Preparing for the future unexpected.”

If you’d like more information about anything discussed in this article or help with your retail delivery process, please do get in touch