There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic affected our lives in immeasurable ways last year. While much focus was placed on how the pandemic would affect Black Friday and Cyber Week sales in 2020, it’s likely that the pandemic also forever altered the landscape of the holiday shopping season.
Many predict that Cyber Week will look a little different. For example, the tradition of in-person retailers closing their doors on Thanksgiving as a safety measure and expression of employee gratitude will continue in 2021.
This also means that online retailers and DTC brands need to be prepared for a rise in sales on those days.
It’s also been predicted that online Black Friday and Cyber Week sales will continue to rise―by as much as 20 percent from 2020’s online sales figures.
So what do all these changes mean for direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailers? How should you be planning for Cyber Week to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch?
1. Think About Your Mobile Site and App
It’s no secret that consumers are living more and more of their lives on their phones, and if the 2020 holiday shopping season sales were any indication, DTC brands need to be more prepared than ever for traffic to their mobile sites and digital apps. While the online retail market saw a major jump in sales from 2019 to 2020, the number of purchases made on mobile remained consistent, even as many consumers worked from home as a reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Mobile sites and apps will be an important sales tool moving forward. In fact, 47 percent of all pre-Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day were purchased on a mobile device. What’s more? The installation of mobile shopping apps hit an all-time record on Black Friday 2020, with over 2.8 million downloads, up 8 percent from the previous year.
2. Expect Cyber Week to Be Busier Than Ever
Cyber Week is always a busy time for direct-to-consumer brands, but it seems that more and more, online shoppers are looking for great deals―and they are willing to wait for them. One study shared in Supply and Demand Chain Executive showed that 71 percent of consumers who shopped online during the 2020 holiday season waited for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the days in between to snag major deals.
What does this mean for retailers? Two things:
- Your customers are hoping you’ll offer great promotions
- You need to be able to handle continuous, high volumes of orders all coming in at the same time.
Now is the time to connect with your fulfillment partner and examine your marketplace and integrations to ensure you’re equipped to deal with the high number of orders. OceanX, for example, can handle as many as 100 orders per second.
3. Know the Market and Be Ready to Scale Up
During the pandemic, DTC brand sales soared. While some of this may be in response to the initial frustrations surrounding empty shelves at supermarkets and other in-person retailers, there are no signs of the DTC boom slowing―which means DTC brands need to ensure they are working with a fulfillment partner who has the tools and processes in place to help them scale up when Cyber Week rolls around. Since it’s anticipated that DTC sales will continue to grow from around 87.3 million DTC digital buyers to 95.4 million DTC digital buyers.
If it’s any indication of the expected rise in DTC popularity, business-to-consumer (B2C) brands are demonstrating signs that they feel threatened by the DTC economy. PepsiCo, Heinz, and other in-store brands are finding ways to expand into the DTC market.
So for Cyber Week? DTC retailers need to collaborate with their fulfillment partners and ensure that their technologies, fulfillment lines, and other processes are ready to scale up. For some DTC retailers, Cyber Week may run more smoothly if they open up additional fulfillment lines or work out of extra fulfillment centers to stay ahead of consumer demand. Now is the time for DTC brands to communicate with their third-party logistics provider to ensure they have the capabilities to meet these needs.
4. Consider Personalization and Branding on a Large Scale
One element of DTC brands that customers love is the idea of personalization. Compared to online retail giants like Walmart or Amazon, many DTC brands offer beautiful, special packaging and unboxing experiences, which can make a world of difference during the holidays. As a matter of fact, 81 percent of B2C brands say that DTC brands have changed consumer expectations regarding personalization. As a result, consumers are seeking higher, more personal levels of service and memorable packaging.
DTC retailers have an opportunity to start planning now to build a holiday sales cycle with memorable packaging and unboxing and make an impression on new and existing customers. However, achieving this kind of mass-scale personalization during Cyber Week won’t happen overnight. If you want to offer special packaging, you need to collaborate with your fulfillment partner now to come up with solutions that optimize fulfillment so that even during peak sale periods, your order fulfillment process can happen quickly and efficiently and still connect with consumers on an emotional level.
5. Plan for Disasters (Just in Case!)
During Cyber Week, you’ll take on more orders than any other time of the year, which can be a lucrative opportunity for your DTC brand. But if your site goes down or other technical issues happen, you need to have a plan in place to deal with any misstep at any point in the fulfillment process.
You’ll need to consider things like:
- Ensuring your technology solutions are equipped for high volumes of sales, and stress-test them to be sure.
- Make a plan for what should happen if there is an illness in your fulfillment center.
- Come up with a strategy to handle damaged or subpar inventory.
- Addressing higher-than-anticipated sales and what to do if you need to add more fulfillment lines.
- Planning for technical issues with incoming orders.
- Establishing a point-of-contact person on your team in case your fulfillment provider encounters any issues or questions.
6. Start Communicating with Your Fulfillment Partner Now
Since the success of Cyber Week is so key to a DTC brand’s holiday sales success, you likely already have amassed data regarding your sale projections, necessary inventory forecasts, and other figures for the upcoming season, and chances are, your DTC brand’s marketing team is already starting in on planning sales and promotions for Cyber Week.
Whatever information you have, start sharing it with your fulfillment provider as soon as possible. They will use this information to help you plan things like:
- How much inventory you will need at each fulfillment location
- Which local and regional carriers will be the best solution to offer affordable, efficient shipping
- How much storage you will require at each fulfillment center you utilize
- What kinds of packaging you will need, and how much they will need to have on hand
- What items can be pre-assembled in kits or bundles based on your planned promotions
They may have additional questions surrounding new product offerings or the returns process after an increase in Cyber Week sales.
All of this information will help optimize the entire fulfillment process. The more work that can be done ahead of time and the more time your 3PL partner has to plan, the more successful your fulfillment process will be.
Your Cyber Week Guide to Success
At OceanX, we are passionate about supporting DTC brands as they grow and expand. With over 3 decades of experience in the DTC market, we have continued to hone our fulfillment processes for our clients—and we’ve changed the face of online retail in the process.
With state-of-the-art technology in our fulfillment centers, cutting-edge, data-driven solutions in the online marketplace that offer full visibility of the entire fulfillment process, and game-changing innovations at every step of our operations, we’ll cater our services to ensure that your brand is ready to thrive during Cyber Week and beyond. Contact us today to learn more!