The last two years have been challenging due to multiple disruption, not the least of which have been the pandemic and Brexit. With what everyone is predicting will be a bumpy ride ahead, in this guest post today, Simon Batt, CEO of Asendia UK, takes a look at what marketplace sellers must do now to prepare for peak in 2021.
What marketplace sellers must to do now to prepare for peak
In ecommerce circles, everyone’s talking about uber-uncertainty this year, as we speed towards a unique Christmas peak. Amazon says it will pay bonuses to attract temporary staff as it recruits 20,000 seasonal UK workers, suggesting the market leader is readying itself for bumper volumes from Black Friday.
Marketplace sellers who ship to overseas customers are, understandably, wondering how to plan. This is the first golden quarter since Brexit. But bearing in mind we’ve had to deal with the red tape and complexity of new EU VAT rules under the IOSS system, and months of Covid-driven supply chain chaos, backlogs at ports, shortages of drivers and a fuel crisis – there’s a lot that could take the shine off peak.
Here are Simon’s tips for overcoming the challenges ahead:
Check out the market research
Overall spending is likely to be up. Research from Future found that over lockdown UK consumers saved some £200bn and are going to be splashing it on Christmas treats, indicating brisk trading to come. The analysts also predict that 82% of shoppers will engage actively in Black Friday, so being ready with the right promotions for November 26th will pay off.
Meanwhile, eBay Ads research found that for 2021, 30% of consumers plan to spend more, compared to only 13% saying this in 2020.
Build flexibility into your operations
Online sellers need to be nimbler than ever this Christmas. With demand patterns upended and trading conditions and channels subject to overnight change, it’s important to be prepared to switch both what you’re offering and how you trade. If one product line is held up in port, be ready with replacement options, and dial your social/digital marketing up and down to reflect your stock availability.
It’s important that your chosen postal service or parcel carrier can flex to changing needs too. Bearing in mind air freight bookings are soaring does your international fulfilment partner have access to extra capacity at short notice? The best partners will be able to adapt their services in line with your margins, getting the cost per kilo for shipping just right for you. Shipping partners will be doing their utmost to help, by offering advice and flexibility where possible, including having dedicated account managers on hand for trouble-shooting.
Start your Christmas marketing early
According to the eBay Ads survey, shoppers are likely to start early this year, more than a quarter planned to begin Christmas purchasing before the end of August. If you haven’t already, start optimising your marketplace listings, invest in advertising, gain visibility over your logistics operations and start communicating actively to your customers for early wins. The savviest sellers will elongate their peak trading, and take pressure off the final weeks in December when postal services and shipping lanes could be clogged.
Factor in possible delays at borders
It will pay to spend time forecasting your fulfilment needs and lead times as early as possible. Do this by analysing last year’s performance, and calculating likely delays at borders based on your most recent experience of shipping lead times.
At Asendia we know many sellers rely on intermediaries in the EU to streamline VAT processes, and it’s likely they will be incredibly busy this Christmas. Factor in extra time for admin bottlenecks this November and December.
Finally, remember that European consumers have come to expect accurate delivery dates. Even if the pandemic has led to shoppers accepting delays to a certain degree, it’s vital to pull out all the stops with customer service communications this yuletide.