During the holiday shopping season, companies often feel overwhelmed at trying to keep up with customer demand while still providing excellent service. It’s sometimes all you can do to simply grab hold of the rails and hang on for the ride (and hope that somewhere along the way, dancing trainmasters will serve you some hot chocolate).
When it’s all over, however, there is a lot you can learn from the experience. By looking at the strengths and weaknesses you experienced during the previous holiday rush, you can be more prepared to handle the next one. That’s why we suggest conducting a holiday post-mortem.
How to Conduct a Holiday Post-Mortem
A holiday post-mortem is an in-depth analysis of trends and behaviors that differentiate the holiday shopping season from the rest of your business year. It’s an opportunity for you and your whole team to come together to determine what worked and what didn’t so that you can make improvements long before the next holiday shopping season is breathing down your neck like an eager reindeer.
Holiday Post-Mortem: Resource Analysis
As you review the way your online holiday shopping rush was handled, analyze inventory trends. Were there products you could have sold more of had you not run out? Were there huge surges in orders during the holidays that left you short on resources (human and otherwise) to meet the need? Did you lose customers because you didn’t have convenient live chat hours or lose a lot of time explaining information that you could have provided via a FAQ page on your website? Once you determine where you had weakness, anticipate those needs for the next holiday. Bring in additional inventory, add live chat personnel, and flesh out your staff to handle the holiday influx. Develop a plan to communicate with your staff about low-inventory items and suggest items that should be pushed.
Holiday Post-Mortem: Do You Need to Beef Up Your Website?
Unlike employees, who fall asleep if you keep them working 24 hours a day, your website can work even when you aren’t, so you need to make sure it can handle the volume of customers it will receive during the holidays. Start by examining your analytics to identify peak volume times. Make sure your website is easy to navigate. If it has been a while since you viewed your website from the customer’s point of view, go shopping and see how easy it is to search the site, find the items you want, and check out. (You would be shocked at the number of customers who abandon full shopping carts simply because the checkout process is too complicated). If the check out process is cumbersome, make adjustments to streamline it.
Holiday Post-Mortem: Prepare, Plan, and Polish
You may still be nursing bruises from the unanticipated issues you faced this year, but by conducting a holiday post-mortem, you can plan early to prepare for the next holiday shopping rush. The time to start that prep is now – immediately after the previous rush has ended – so that you and your staff remember the issues and challenges you faced.
From developing a more user-friendly website using responsive design to creating an email campaign that encourages and rewards early shoppers, you can use your holiday post-mortem to help you go into the next year feeling ready for anything.
For more tips on how to handle your online holiday shopping rush, download Velaro’s 52 Tips, Tricks, and Insider Secrets for Handling the Online Holiday Rush.