Over this past year, we have seen a great amount of customer influence introduced and reinforced with our online commerce experiences. Digitalization of online shopping experiences is at the greatest it has ever been, especially the emphasis on creating a safe and exceptional space for customers to shop. I recently participated in IBM’s live webinar series, LinkedIn LIVE, to talk about what we have learned from Cyber Week, which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Here are some reasons why retailers were so successful this past holiday shopping period:
Preparation at its Finest
The COVID-19 pandemic struck every single business with unexpected roadblocks and uncertainty this year, and many of these companies took this as an opportunity to refocus and create a plan that would prepare them for commerce experiences like Cyber Week. Online ordering became more popular than it has ever before once the pandemic forced businesses and stores to close in-store shopping, and businesses were tasked with responding and delivering against surging online demand.
Putting Belief in Omnichannel Fulfillment
Retailers increased their investment in omnichannel and other capabilities such as curbside pickup, ship from store, and buy-online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) to ensure they were ready for the upcoming peak, as well as streamlined their fulfillment processes in-store and warehouses when they invested in their technology. Enabling inventory visibility and optimization, and scaling across fulfillment centers helped these retailers to address the surge in online demand and scale appropriately to enhance system performance. Walmart converted its regional distribution centers, primarily meant to replenish its stores, into centers where the company could fulfill online commerce orders. Similar to the Walmart experience, some of our retail customers turned their big format stores into dark stores to be able to fulfill online orders faster, reliably, and more efficiently. They accounted for increased labor capacity to pick, pack, and ship customer orders. Businesses now have an idea of how to manage inventory, fulfill customer orders from different stores and warehouses, and invest in technology that will benefit their business and their consumers throughout the commerce journey.
Encouraging Consumers to Shop Online
Before the pandemic, consumers were more used to shopping in-store, especially on Black Friday. This year was different, as many businesses encouraged customers to buy online for a safer and more convenient shopping experience. Retailers started offering Black Friday-type deals weeks before the holiday season and expanded the timeframe of those sales so they can ease the burden on their carriers and ship out their customer orders on time. It is important to reassure consumers that although this may be different from usual, your business will ensure a seamless and easy commerce journey, they will receive their orders and do so from the comfort of their home with the knowledge that the businesses have the capabilities to fulfill online orders.
The Advantages of these Takeaways
These Cyber Week trends have more businesses recognizing the advantages of investing in technologies, plans, and processes to evolve omnichannel experiences and elevate the digital maturity of commerce processes to benefit their consumers. Although companies must take every day as it comes, we can feel assured that these emerging trends and new shopping touchpoints are here to stay for years to come. To learn more, contact our commerce experts today.