5 ways to prep for peak

The key to peak performance is being able to understand and react appropriately to customer behaviour onsite.

The best way to prepare for the last quarter peak is to learn from another completely unexpected peak that was forced on retailers during the pandemic. While some online businesses experienced a boom, most did not. And they’re now focused 24/7 on trying to get back to some sort of balance in terms of demand, stock management, pricing, and fulfilment.

However, it’s already clear that no matter how well eCommerce businesses are managing, recovery has negatively impacted margins. This was mainly due to interrupted demand. However, it’s also to do with the rise in costs caused by the need for emergency staffing, constrained fulfilment capacity, and the introduction of safety measures for staff and customers.

We all hope that these challenges will have been met by the time Christmas peak trading comes around, but it makes sense to prepare now, particularly as customer demand patterns have changed so dramatically, many of which may well become permanent.

There are a host of other insights you can benefit from in order to ensure your messages are on trend. For instance, many consumers want to take a little more time for themselves by investing in beauty products or luxury foods. But they did not want to feel guilty about it. Aggressive promotion therefore simply did not work.

Many consumers took a long hard look at their favourite brands and started to question some of their messaging on sustainability and the real depth of their commitment to the environment, as well as their values around diversity, inclusion and social justice.

Many also questioned the value of shopping to just acquire more stuff, and thought more deeply about experiences, about shared activities, and generosity to friends and family.

Getting the messages, the cadence of communications, and the relevance will all be critical for high performance over peak. So, here we caught up with Rob Delijani, Senior Director of Growth Strategy at Wunderkind, on five things you can do to prepare for peak that will help you maintain and exceed your commercial KPIs.

  1. Build your customer database now to get new customers without adding excessive acquisition costs. Pop-ups that understand onsite behaviour and carry relevant messages will make email sign up easy. And because they are relevant they are seen as personal, and therefore have a much higher level of acceptance and conversion than standardised pop-ups. This then gives retailers additional opportunities to convert by sending out recovery messages such as ‘product back in stock’ or ‘price drop on that product’ or ‘alternatives available’ if customers abandon basket
  2. Market appropriate to device. Last year during Black Friday and ‘peak week’ trading we saw mobile conversion rates outperforming desktop for the first time. But even as lockdown as eased, many shoppers may still be working from home from desktops or laptops, so the performance from this device may shift. This makes it essential to ensure messages, content, and experiences are optimised to perform seamlessly across both devices.
  3. Make messages more relevant by understanding customer sentiment. In addition, customers have been in several different states during lockdown; on the one hand, they have had more time to consider their choices and purchases so this means retailers need to signpost differently on their journey. On the other hand, many customers are in a more nervous, sensitive state with concerns about safety, employment, finances, family, and general wellbeing.  This makes the timing and content of message delivery even more important looking ahead to peak trading.
  4. Don’t just think of Black Friday as a one-off opportunity. Use it as a key period to drive long-term loyalty. Many consumers will use Black Friday as an opportunity to explore new brands, so this is a key opportunity to attain–and keep–new customers. For existing customers, so many brands get friendly around this time that they will welcome a company that is more helpful, engaging, and sticks around to keep the conversation going, so consider your remarketing strategies and communications flow once you have captured new email addresses.
  5. Consider using SMS. During lockdown, there were countless examples of brands and their customers using text to bypass the normal rules on communicating, because customers really wanted help and quickly. And this trend is set to continue.  Text meant that a customer service agent could stay on the case until the customer was happy. Text has the advantage of being personal because it’s peer to peer, immediate, geared for both informational as well as promotional content.

The current crisis, even as we continue to move to a new normal, represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the way you engage with your customers and prospects. The shift to more online commerce now will give you the data you need to validate all your tactics well in time for peak, which this year more than ever will be crucial for continued long-term success.

Rob Delijani is Senior Director of Growth Strategy at Wunderkind, the leading behavioural marketing technology provider formerly known as BounceX


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