How to Prepare Your Online Marketplace For the Festive Season
Christmas. Combined with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s the biggest time of the year for ecommerce. However, unlike those two singular dates, the entire month of December can be an incredibly hectic time for any ecommerce store or marketplace. While, of course, you ideally want your marketplace to be busy, you may find yourself spinning a number of different plates to keep on top of everything.
With a combination of last-minute Christmas eve shoppers, to well ahead-of-time buyers, the month of December will see a whole range of different customers and transactions types on your marketplace - in order to capitalize on this increased traffic as much as possible, you need to have a game plan.
You have to set out what it is you want to achieve and what does success looks like - want to beat last year’s figures in terms of sales? You need to understand what it is that you want to achieve in terms of traffic and revenue as well as understanding your type of customers as well as the various subgroups within, their behaviors, and habits.
All going well, the festival season can be the most profitable time for an online business and can set you up nicely going into the new year. However, unless you cater to a very niche market, chances are you’ll find yourself facing some stiff competition. How do you stand out and get customers to the checkout page?
Managing your inventory is critical during the festival season. You need to ensure that you have an up-to-date inventory listing on your site. It's important to understand which products may see higher demand and to put in place the to deal with that.
For instance, let's say you operate a gaming marketplace, selling consoles, games, controllers, etc - of course, you will need to ensure that the products you have listed on your store are still available from your vendors. For example, the PS5 will once again, be a very popular but scarce item this year, if you list it as being available in your marketplace, it's vital that you have visibility on your vendors inventory and have up-to-date product catalogs and pricing information listed on your site.
Spending hours manually importing such data will be very timeconsuming and increases the likelihood of errors occuring. Such mistakes may cost you the prospect of a repeat customer.
Leading from inventory, orders and their correct management is also a vital element for making the festival period successful for your online marketplace.
The last thing you want is the nightmare scenario such as - a customer places an order but due to some mistake, it isn’t relayed back to the appropriate vendor or is forgotten about completely. Que irate customers who you now have to break the news that they won’t have their order in time for Christmas.
In such a situation, offering a full refund is the bare minimum that you could do as it is likely to boil over even further - not only will that customer never buy from you again, chances are they will let their opinion be known online and your brand reputation will likely suffer as a result. Therefore, its crucial to make sure you have an adequate system in place to manage and route your orders back to the appropriate vendors.
How easy it is to simply navigate your marketplace can be important when it comes to turning visitors into customers - how easy customers find it to search for the products they want is a core part of making your event succeed. This can be particularly important during the festival season.
Look at metrics like your bounce rate to try and figure out which pages need to be improved - on such a busy day, customers may visit your site but only give you a short window of time in terms of whether they can find what they are looking for quickly. If they can’t, then you should look to see how you can improve the page experience.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you ensure that your site is easy to navigate, intuitive to use, mobile-friendly, and fast loading - from the search bar all the way to checkout. It would be a pity to allow poor loading times or navigation errors to be the reason a customer decided to keep away from your site.
Nobody wants to find no presents under the tree on Christmas morning so it’s vital that you work to ensure that your shipping policy is fully dialed in. During the festive period, your shipping policy is a core area that potential customers will look at when deciding whether to buy from you or not.
It’s important to clearly communicate to your user’s information such as the shipping cut-off dates for your carriers - i.e
“Our guaranteed delivery cut-off date is the 21st of December, after which we cannot guarantee delivery of orders before the 25th of December”.
We recommend placing such a message as a banner on your homepage to ensure it is visible and won’t be missed by customers. Tracking data is seen as a given nowadays by most customers so it's important to be able to offer that too.
Perhaps, you could decide to figure out a last-minute shopping feature with your vendors or carriers to guarantee delivery right up until the big day itself. This could act as a USP for your marketplace, although it may be difficult to achieve and likely expensive from a margin perspective.
Keeping on top of everything
Unlike Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you'll have to be extra-diligent for the entirety of December with things gradually getting busier and busier as the days tick down to the 25th before likely hitting a peak around the middle of the month. This can be stressful, issues that occur early on in the month may derail your entire plan and have you dashing to put out fires as more appear in their place.
It is for this reason that you need to have an ace up your sleeve - something which can manage all aspects of your day-to-day operations and truly step up to the plate during a busy time such as Christmas. Having a system that can automate much of the processes above can allow you to focus on reinforcing your value proposition to customers.
Thankfully, there is such a solution, which can truly take your marketplace to another level and allow you to manage multiple different aspects of your business with ease.
Maximize Your Festival Success With Onport
Christmas will be a busy period for any marketplace - things can get stressful and hectic which is natural. Regardless of what you sell, you need a solution that will reliably deliver high-level performance for you and your customers. You need Onport.
Onport is an ecommerce marketplace and dropshipping platform enabling companies to centralize the core areas of backend marketplace dropshipping operations using next-generation composable technology - inventory syncing, order routing, shipping workflows, payment automation, and returns management.
The Onport Platform can accommodate both those seeking an out-of-the-box solution and, through an API with +3.000 endpoints, those who require a more flexible implementation.
“With Onport, we were able to launch in less than three months, which we just couldn’t have done, had we built the system ourselves.”
Frank A. Ricciardi | Founder & CEO at Maavee
From growing SMBs to well-established enterprise-level companies, its composable and adaptive infrastructure was designed to be a reliable partner for the growth of any company operating in the e-commerce marketplace and dropshipping space.
Over 200+ companies in the e-commerce space are future-proofing their business with a solution trusted by brands such as Stadium Goods, Terminal X, Cupra, Ivalo, and Naduvi.