E-Commerce and the Secrets for Small Business Survival
Small businesses across the U.S. are about to enter their busiest days of the year. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday – a trifecta of commercial holidays!
According to data tracking firm ComScore, sales for Cyber Monday last year were at a projected $1.2 billion, a record for online shopping. Shop.org also estimates that as much as $96 billion will be spent by online holiday shoppers this year. But with the sheer number and variety of sales already being offered online this year, retailers or all sizes can agree that competition for those online orders will be fierce.
So to help our small business customers stand out from the crowd and delight their online customers this holiday season, FedEx has pulled together a few ideas from our own customer service experts and others we’ve worked with in the small business community.
- Plan, plan, plan…and then plan some more! Cyber Monday is almost upon us, but as soon as it’s over, start thinking about next year. FedEx is at its busiest during the holiday season, but the moment the clock strikes midnight on December 26, our focus shifts to next Christmas – assessing what went well, what could have gone better and brainstorming around what else we can do for our customers during the holidays and all year round.
- Inventory: If you’re a small business retailer, it’s possible your orders could exceed your inventory. Make sure you keep an eye on stockpiles and keep customers posted if you expect delays. Whether your manufacturer is across town, across the country or across the globe, FedEx can help keep your supply chain flowing during the holiday season. When planning for next year, consider stocking up early in order to be able to fulfill all orders, and always plan for extra. Compare your sales numbers with last year in order to obtain a good estimate of how much to order next year. Seeing a steady increase in orders of the same product? It’s a good sign you’ll need more in 2013.
- Seasonal Help: Think about hiring seasonal help and interns in advance. But if you don’t already have them on board, there’s still time! Having extra help can always make the process easier if implemented correctly. Make sure to prepare detailed guidelines and instructions so your temporary employees can get up to speed quickly and your brand/product quality remains intact. At FedEx, we recognize that we need extra support during this peak shipping season so this year alone we are planning to hire 20,000 seasonal workers.
- Marketing Strategy: Be sure you’ve got the right products front and center on your website and in your online customer communications (emailed offers, newsletters, and more). If you don’t already, you may also want to offer special products and pricing on your biggest selling items or perhaps volume discounts. And don’t forget to get social and keep people talking about your holiday deals by using channels like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.
- Merchant Payment Systems: On Cyber Monday – more so than ever – you will need to double-check that your credit card or payment processor provides a limit high enough to complete all transactions. The potential for huge sales could shut down your shopping cart and hurt you in the long run with customer loyalty. If you’re not sure about your service, give your card processor a call now to check in before the big days are here.
- Shipping Options & Deadlines: The allure of “free” shipping is very real. Analysts at comScore reported that last year’s Free Shipping Day rang up sales of over $1 billion . Offering free shipping to customers during the holidays is easier and less costly than you may think with help from FedEx SmartPost . Once the orders are in, however, make sure you keep sight of those shipping deadlines to ensure gifts are delivered before the holiday. As a reminder, the FedEx shipping deadlines for delivery before Christmas are December 17 for FedEx Ground and December 22 for FedEx Express.
Good luck this season and here’s to increased holiday sales for all!