Christmas, the biggest shopping period of the year, is upon us. Despite economic pressures, it’s set to be another bumper period for Australian shoppers and retailers alike. In fact, more than a third of Australians are expected to spend more this holiday season compared to last year, but that doesn’t mean retailers can just sit back and wait for the orders to roll in. Planning, preparation and strategising behind the scenes is essential to not only capitalise on the holiday rush and exceed customer expectations, but to build the good habits and healthy processes that last all-year-round. 

In recent years, retailers have been forced to embrace the unknown and deal with events completely outside of their control. That’s why, this festive season – and long after it – it’s essential they try to control the things that can be controlled. So today, it’s more important than ever for retailers to focus on the holistic customer experience, rather than just their products and prices. 

The momentum generated from a successful Christmas rush can last a lifetime, so how can retailers not only meet, but exceed, customer expectations this festive season, and long after it? 

Prepare for the big shopping moments 

Having optimised, flexible processes and systems behind-the scenes is just as important, if not more so, than any discounts or festive perks. Aussies are expected to spend $14.9 billion this season, and retailers must be adequately prepared to handle the demand. In fact, Shippit data reveals that Aussies made 27% more orders during this year’s Black Friday compared to 2021, and we’re anticipating similarly strong spending in the final rush to Christmas too. 

So to best handle the Christmas rush, retailers should consider increasing warehousing operating hours, introducing weekend shifts to reduce backlog, stocking up on supplies and prioritising their Christmas stock. By preemptively taking action behind-the-scenes, retailers will be better placed to ensure their customers aren’t left disappointed by out-of-stock items or delays. Retailers that build flexibility and agility into their operations will be able to provide the convenience, transparency and reliability that will help them master the peak season and, ultimately, exceed customer expectations.   

Diversified delivery 

As we’ve seen in previous years, it’s essential that retailers offer multiple delivery options. By having a range of delivery options available for customers, and facilitating deliveries with different carriers, retailers can speed up the delivery process and minimise the potential for delay; crucial during peak shopping times. 

For example, retailers can use express carriers for time sensitive deliveries, and introduce priority services like on-demand delivery for local and same day delivery. This ensures retailers stay on top of customer expectations from the beginning and that packages are delivered on time. Offering expedited shipping during the holidays and succeeding in fulfilling orders can also increase customer loyalty, trust, and satisfaction – at a time when their demand for that is higher than ever. The more diversified their supply chain, the better prepared retailers are to overcome challenges and exceed expectations. 

Be transparent 

Transparency, particularly during busy periods, is an essential ingredient to success. Retailers must include realistic holiday shipping cut-off dates on their website, in addition to any shipping delays which may impact the timely delivery of gifts. By regularly updating their website with delivery dates and frequently asked questions, customers will know what to expect this holiday season. 

Retailers that provide customers with this level of transparency will be at an advantage and provide an experience that customers will remember. Whilst it may sound simple, dependability and certainty are crucial for consumers. If they can rely on a retailer, they’ll likely return and associate the retailer with a positive customer experience. 

The festive season is finally here and retailers that plan to capitalise on the holiday rush will build good habits that will last well beyond the Christmas period. By focusing on operations behind-the-scenes and prioritising the customer experience, retailers are more likely to have a successful Christmas season, and a happy new year.

Rob Hango-Zada is co-CEO of Shippit