If ecommerce didn’t have a big seat at the round table, it does now. Covid-19 has crippled retail as we know it and many companies are looking at the commerce teams to save the day. It’s time to put on your cape and shine in this moment.

BUT! It’s imperative to look both up and downstream of your website.

You’re going to need the help of everyone around the table to deliver. At Lucidworks, we’re learning that many retailers are struggling with supply chain, both in manufacturing and fulfillment. When inventory is scarce and replenishment is delayed, or seasonal products aren’t getting made, you must adapt to deliver on your plans.

Of course we need IT partners, but we also need store, logistics, marketing, merchandising, and finance leadership to capitalize on the risks and opportunities coming your way.

Locate Your Hero Products

As an ecommerce leader you have access to loads of valuable sales data. Earlier in the year, when you reviewed the 2019 holiday results you said ‘yeah let’s do this again’, ‘no that bombed’, and ‘how about we try this.’ Each of those statements then drove teams to forecast and line up products to come in ahead of the holiday push, which seems to be inching earlier and earlier each year.

Well, where is everything?

Hopefully your distributors called. And if not, you should probably follow-up. The pandemic has interrupted the global supply chain unlike we’ve seen before. Factories are shut down, freight is delayed, and receiving is backed up. Orders are cancelled and people aren’t picking up the phone.

It’s time to put the pressure on your merchandising and supply chain teams to make sure that your largest store, online, has something to sell. This is your first priority.

When that’s completed, make sure they have additional contingencies in place to ensure further disruptions don’t leave you flat footed ahead of Black Friday.

Check out this article on “Building a Strategy for Retail” for more tips on how to build contingency plans for the next 12 months and learn why your ability to adapt could be your saving grace.

Get Personal

I’m looking at you e-merchandisers. This is your moment. How do you provide that in-store experience online? And how do you know it’s going to shine in the moment? Welcome your shoppers into a store personalized to their preferences. Oh, hi Rebecca, welcome back, why don’t you check out these size 7 sneaks, they’ll coordinate great with the leggings you picked up last week. (Cue add to cart).

When shoppers walk into the online store it’s imperative that you recognize them, help them easily add products to cart that compliment their last purchase and expedite their next. Lucidworks Fusion powers recommendations and organizes result sets based on the shopper’s preferences and historical behaviors to make them feel like one in a million.

It can be tough to predict what strategies will work best. Now is the time to test and experiment different presentations of product, different sort and ranking algorithms, boosting and pinning different featured products so when it’s gametime during an unusual BTS season, or Black Friday with restricted in-person shopping, you’re not guessing how online will perform.

Once the teams have agreed on which products to promote for upcoming events and holiday, it’s time to put the experience together. We put the power in your hands with Predictive Merchandiser on Fusion so you can quickly and easily set, run, and evaluate tests without bugging IT. This gives you the chance to play around with different presentations, review it with team members, and be ready to go well ahead of the event.

Let the data tell you what is best for your shoppers, implement it today and start looking down the road.

Go the Last Mile

We have confidence in our supply chain… The website is tuned and curated to our shopper’s preferences… Now, how are we going to deliver the product? Will we have stores open for shoppers to go to? Will we have an outbreak in our warehouse shutting down fulfillment? Flexibility and preference is what shoppers tell us they want. Amidst all the uncertainty hitting retail this year, everyone in leadership should be focusing on building contingency fulfillment options, staying flexible, and nailing the last mile.

Often when presented with massive risks and unclear answers, the best bet is to diversify. Establish hubs around the country, whether they’re in your stores or other warehouses. Allow your shoppers to buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS). Offer curbside pickup. Ship from your stores directly to nearby customers. Maybe even try lockers. It would be a shame to have all the holiday heroes locked up in a shut-down warehouse. Work across your leadership teams to design, implement, and market this to your customer base to meet them where they want to be met. If you’re a digital native brand, are there complimentary brick-and-mortar and omni-channel retailers that you can partner with? Get creative here and see how you can extend your footprint and presence to get closer to your customers.

Focus on what you can control for the 2020 holiday season. By securing your supply chain and strengthening your merchandising, you’ll be ready for the sales to start rolling in — whether you get to greet your customer IRL or online.

Contact us today to learn how Lucidworks powers personalized experiences for major brands like goop, REI, Lenovo, and more.

About Garrett Schwegler

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