Leading analysts like Forrester and Deloitte predict that online retail sales in both November and December will increase double-digits year-over-year. This might come at a steep price for smaller retailers however because of increased competition among merchants in the form of aggressive discounting, free shipping and other promotional offers. With holiday sales accounting for as much as 30 percent of total annual revenue for some businesses, it's time for e-commerce merchants to up their game.
Below are eight tips to help online retailers get a larger piece of the action this holiday season (and do so profitably:
1. Extend your reach.
Listing products and managing inventory across multiple sales channels is something that retailers must take advantage of. Most online merchants should be selling via multiple sales channels, if they aren't already. Consumers today visit multiple shopping destinations — the merchants own websites, Amazon.com, eBay, Google Shopping, daily-deal sites, search engines, etc. — to comparative shop. Reduce your exposure and you reduce your sales potential. Hence GameQuestDirect
, a wholesale video game seller, uses an integrated e-commerce and order management platform to sell 10,000 SKUs simultaneously on 15-plus sales channels without running the risk of back orders.
2. Too much or too little inventory are both dangerous.
Carrying excess inventory means risking markdowns in January, not to mention the up front capital investment. Have too little inventory and you risk losing orders and the ability to fully capitalize on your advertising and promotional efforts. Merchants must therefore invest in systems that allow them to easily and automatically juggle inventory across multiple customer touchpoints. So if a product goes out of stock or runs low, it can quickly be pulled off the shelf without circumventing the opportunity to sell. This avoids back orders as well as customer service issues that result from taking orders that can't be fulfilled.
3. Moving slow-moving goods.
In order to differentiate themselves, many merchants tend to focus on unique items that may not have mass appeal. Retailers selling on popular online marketplaces have the ability to deal with the goods that aren't moving as fast without compromising their profit margins across the board. For example, they might offer discounted pricing on Amazon and Buy.com to quickly move stock, but still maintain full price on their own website.