Five Mistakes (R)Etailers Dont Have to Make in 2014

Abnesh Raina
January 22, 2014

As news stories this holiday season told tales of late deliveries and kids’ Christmas presents painfully absent under the tree, FedEx, UPS and Amazon.com probably wished more people had taken advantage of early holiday shopping.  Online shopping promos and a short buying season combined to create delivery gridlock closer to Christmas and the tales of woe heated up the social media universe. 

On the other hand, some companies appeared to get it right, and reaped rewards for anticipating customer demand and having processes in place to fulfill their wishes.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, so let’s take a page from these good, and bad, Santa experiences.  What mistakes can we avoid in 2014?

Underestimating demand 

UPS underestimated the number of deliveries due to the higher level of online shopping.  One Bloomberg news report called it a ‘perfect storm of events from the consumer side, the retailer side and the shipping side.’  This is a good time of the year to look at your analytics and sales projections and spot any weaknesses in gauging customer response to your next marketing push.

Relying on a broken supply chain

Amazon said it handed off its deliveries on time to shippers but that was when the chain broke down. The company says it plans to use drones in the future, and is reported to be looking at more shipping options. With product vendors now coming from around the globe, evaluate the flow of your supply chain.  More online shopping and last-minute decision making from customers is inevitable.  Are you prepared for a last minute surge of product popularity? 

Being out of touch with customer desires

Vitamix blenders were a popular holiday gift, with the company projecting 1.4 million blenders to be sold in 2013.  Good press, with Vogue calling it a status gift for 2014, helped make the blenders a hot item.  But behind the buzz, smart product marketing people had done their homework and the company was ready for the holiday sales push.  What are you doing to engage customer feedback early in the product development and marketing process?  Vitamix took off in a big way because it was in touch with what more upscale, health conscious consumers were looking for in a product.  How in touch are you with what is motivating your customers these days?

Siloed internal communication and processes

After the bad Santa shipping snafus, one report mentioned companies were not aware – until too late – of the last-minute sales incentives marketing staff was executing online. It was a classic case of communication breakdown between sales, marketing and supply chain, adding to the gridlock.  Take a close look at your inter-departmental communication.  It might be time to see where you can improve collaboration further upstream in the sales cycle.

Inconsistent shopping experiences across channels

Consumers are ‘showrooming’ by taking information gained in brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy, and then purchasing products online, or doing online research, comparing prices, etc, and then shopping at the store. These trends will continue so you need to ensure you have consistent product information and a positive customer experience regardless of the channel.  Early 2014 is the perfect time to tune up your omnichannel approach.

Early reports of wrap up stats for the 2013 buying season show fairly tepid gains of less than three percent.  At PlumSlice, we’re looking ahead to the 2014 buying season with ways to help you avoid the mistakes of 2013 and increase sales. Our product management apps address the issues of tighter collaboration between all product and supply chain members, ensures closer engagement with the customer and facilitates a product information management process that provides a smooth omnichannel experience.  Happy New Year!


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