In Conversation with Jim Herbert – Q4 Selling in a pandemic

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A few days ago, I had the opportunity to (virtually) sit down with Jim Herbert, Vice President & General Manager EMEA at BigCommerce, to discuss Q4 selling in the year of a pandemic.

Jim is an unashamed tech geek and, working from home, declares he has better broadband than in the office. Connectivity has been ultra important to so many this year, both for keeping in contact with loved ones and of course for online shopping like never before.

To forecast what to expect from Q4 selling, Jim looked at behaviour at the start of the pandemic way back in March. Initially with major high street retailers closed, there was still stock available online but very quickly this stock started to sell out. This immediately led to consumers seeking alternative suppliers and this included discovering products both on search engines and social media.

Jim firmly believes that in the Q4 selling season smaller retailers and brands are set to win. When shortages occur at a shopper’s favourite retailer they’ll turn to other retailers and this often means independent online sellers. In addition, if their favoured brand isn’t available this is when unknown and private label brands start to win. Expect to see a repeat of this behaviour in Q4 as consumers will be eager for Christmas and may even spend more than usual if large areas of the country are still in local lockdowns.

The discussion naturally turned to platforms and Jim believes that BigCommerce is well positioned as it’s a cloud-based software-as-a-service solution. When you want to add Google Shopping, Facebook Marketplace, selling on Instagram and a plethora of other services, if your provider adds the service in the cloud it’s instantly available for all merchants using that platform to use. It’s a double win as once a service is available there are no development, testing and implementation costs and that goes for the platform itself as well as additional services.

Expect Q4 selling to centre around consumers’ desires and be prepared for unprecedented levels of business. Small and independent retailers and brands should no only prepare for unparalleled levels of sales but also have steps in place to remarket to their new customers – mailing lists and engagement on social media are opportunities to turn one off pandemic customers into loyal repeat customers of the future.

It may well be too late to re-platform in time for this Christmas selling season, but examine your current platform to ensure you’re marketing your products on every marketplace, search engine and social media channel available to capitalise on sales. If you’re on BigCommerce this will be easy, if you’re on an alternative then consider your options to make your reach as broad as possible in the future.

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