Coronavirus is continuing to spread all around the world, with more than 40 million confirmed cases. In many locations, the number of Coronavirus cases is still increasing and some countries which even had achieved great success in taking control of the initial outbreak have also started seeing the number of confirmed cases rise again.
In countries that have started to experience normalization, consumers are still on alert. Shopping behavior has completely changed, and spending intent still remains below the pre-crisis level. During the pandemic, consumers were mainly transferred to digital and omni-channels. Many shopping categories have grown more than 10% in terms of online customer base and many people said that they are planning to continue shopping online even when brick-and-mortar stores reopen.
In countries that had moderated online conversion rates before the pandemic, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, eCommerce continues to grow across all product categories.
In addition, besides eCommerce, other digital and virtual services are also seeing much higher adoption rates. While some of these habits are seen as a workaround to the crisis, many at-home solutions to regular activities will likely be adopted for the long-term.
[Consumer sentiment and behavior continue to reflect the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis] Mckinsey, July 8, 2020.
PEAK SEASON IN PANDEMIC
The world’s been turned upside down in the past few months. While the global Pandemic has been the toughest challenge for many companies yet, it’s time to prepare for the peak season.
The holiday season for consumers is still a few months away, but peak season is getting started and preparation is almost done for the shopping months of November and December. This peak season is gearing up to be quite different from the past years. As Coronavirus cases continue to surge, many retailers aren’t sure if their brick-and-mortar locations will even be able to remain open during the holiday shopping season. And, even if they do open their doors, many customers still feel un-easy shopping in-stores.
On the other hand, Digital transactions continue to rise, and this year’s peak season is expected to be a record-breaking period for eCommerce, with analysts expecting online sales to grow by 18%. Everyone is looking forward to what will happen on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Week, and Valentine’s Day.
Even amid all the uncertainty, brands are doing their best to meet changing customer needs and capitalize on this new surge of digital traffic.
Amazon started offering deals on the 26th of October. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Target, Kohl’s, and other retailers have announced they will remain closed on Thanksgiving due to the pandemic and the growth of online shopping is expected to rise.
PEAK SEASON PRIORITIES
While large spikes in traffic are a boost for any industry, they can also stress a website easily. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the last two weekends before Christmas, and Christmas Eve are some examples of significant increases in online shopping and website traffic. The increased loads on servers can slow downloading times, lock up pages, and block transactions. This results in a poor customer experience, damaged brand reputation, lost sales opportunities, and even potential overcharges for bandwidth.
Don’t forget! With high traffic volumes and customers being ready to spend, every minute of uptime is crucial during the peak season. The first impression is important for the customers, and competitors are just a click away.
We have collected the things that must be done before the peak season under 5 headlines for you. Enjoy!
- Smooth Operations First
One of the important key steps is to focus on peak planning for operational challenges. For example, can the warehouse physically handle a high volume in inventory to fulfill the forecast uptick in demand? Or are there any changes that are required for any business processes; such as packaging updates, to meet the upcoming increase in orders? Set a discovery or design meeting with all your stakeholders to determine if making alterations to your operational strategies would be advantageous for peak season success.
Smooth operations in a retail warehouse are vital, especially during the peak season. If the warehouse can’t handle the increased demand, delivery dates may be delayed, and customer experience may suffer.
- Focus on Train Up Your Temps
Hiring temporary workers is a common practice during peak times. A large organization could potentially hire thousands of temporary workers to assist with high order volumes. For instance, carriers hire 90,000 seasonal employees to help with all the extra shipments, many of which are date-sensitive and must arrive on time.
You can see easily how new workers can present challenges. The first step is defining a smooth process for all new workers to have access to the systems they need and follow the security procedures and regulations. This can help each new hire get through the onboarding process quickly, enabling a faster turnaround.
The second step is a focused, accelerated training program which is key by using tools that workers are familiar with, such as iPads and smartphones. It is a great way to help workers adapt quickly.
In addition, using visual signs enables temporary employees to learn faster and more accurately based on what they are seeing, which speeds up processes and reduces order errors. It’s a win-win for employees and the employer.
- Prevents Poor Performance
Loadium performance testing simulates the real-world impact on your website or application to see how it will behave during the peak season.
Loadium is cloud-based and it is a 100% open source load testing tool that measures speed and response time under various loads to determine when bottlenecks may occur or when a system may become unstable. By using Loadium tests, you can realize the limits of your website and see how your servers may respond with a surge of users from around the world.
It is the best choice of discovering your weaknesses in any peak season in advance.
- Execution Time
All of your planning and preparations are done, and it’s time to execute. Be sure to define key metrics in place so that productivity and goals can be easily measured. When the busy season starts, having the ability to monitor operations in real-time is crucial to ensure that projected goals are met or that necessary adjustments are made.
A labor management system that can understand how employees are performing against engineered standards, forecast and plan labor, calculate incentive-based pay, and facilitate supervisor interaction with employees via real-time data on a mobile device can be extremely valuable at any time, but especially during peak periods when labor efficiency becomes so critical.
Peak season should be viewed as a mini organizational change. There are new faces on the team, and everyone’s attention should be focused on meeting the peak demand and achieving success. Ensure each team member is following the defined procedures for his or her area of responsibility.
- Review Lessons Experienced
When the peak season has come and gone, it’s momentous to conduct a thorough review. This includes cross-departmental reviews across functional areas, as well as reviews with key stakeholders and vendors. Did everything run smoothly? What were the lessons learned? Were there any major problems that need to be resolved for the future? Identify the problem, plan to take action, and define the dates for resolution. It is important to ask these questions and do a careful evaluation of what worked and what didn’t at the conclusion of the season so that all areas of the business know-how their department performed and what can be improved.
Peak seasons present countless challenges, but with proper preparation and regular evaluation, businesses can prosper during these busy periods. Following the above steps can help businesses enhance service, build customer loyalty, improve sales and, ultimately, learn to tide over the peak seasons.