As we enter Black Friday week, Tony Preedy, Managing Director of Fruugo, shares insights on how retailers can thrive during peak trading season:
In the run-up to Christmas, continued post-pandemic supply-chain disruption, combined with inflation and cost-of-living issues, is adding more pressure to what is already a busy trading period for retailers. With economic uncertainty top of mind, almost a third (28 per cent) of shoppers plan to spend less this holiday season. Consumers are undeniably under huge financial pressures, but so are retailers. And, for those that rely on the final weeks of the year to bolster their annual profits, it’s important to reflect on business strategies for the festive shopping season.
Agile inventory management
The numerous pandemic-driven global lockdowns resulted in a surge in e-commerce, which has sustained itself following the return to normality. This has led to post-pandemic online shoppers becoming much shrewder in their retail decision making. Indeed, whereas previously consumers may have been more loyal to a particular brand, consumers are increasingly buying exactly what they want without considering who or where they’re buying from – as long as they can get it delivered where and when they want, at a price that suits. If they can’t find what they want from one retailer, online searches will quickly present an alternative supplier that has the product in stock. So, sellers need to be savvy about where and how they list products. With the festive shopping period being so competitive, converting inventory into cash becomes even more crucial.
Reaching new audiences
Ultimately, retailers want as many eyes as possible on their products, especially during this peak season for sales. Diversifying channels by listing products on marketplaces is an efficient and cost-effective means to do this. The more marketplaces on which a seller lists their products, the more prominent their online presence and the more sales generated.
Of course, the festive season is a key shopping time across the globe, so it’s an opportune time to tap into global demand. By targeting marketplaces that specialise in cross-border e-commerce, sellers can maximise access to potential customers overseas, rather than relying solely on local demand.
Plus, these marketplaces can take on much of the technical work and help optimise marketing. In many jurisdictions, they’re responsible for the local sales taxes, they handle the translation of content into foreign languages, and provide multi-lingual customer service and account management. They also integrate with local payment providers, screen those orders for fraud, and take on the cost of currency conversion.
Many support the retailer by actively marketing their products across global markets. Shipping is also enabled by the active market in international e-commerce logistics, making it possible and practical to sell most types of Christmas gifts internationally. Many marketplaces offer a no-sale, no-fee model, so sellers can connect with customers on a global scale with zero risk.
Over time, consumers have grown accustomed to hunting for discounts before and after Christmas with Black Friday, Boxing Day and other sales peppered in between. However, many businesses won’t be able to participate in these mass discounting events this year due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Indeed, indiscriminate use of discounting to drive volume is likely to be ruinous for most sellers. Digital retailers can be highly agile in how they price to optimise selling through their inventory, and can also be astute about how they target discounts to prompt a purchase. However, very few businesses properly calculate the impact on gross margin of reduced prices and the massive growth in units required to keep income stable, let alone growing. Retailers wanting a more profitable holiday trading period should reduce the number and size of discounts they offer and communicate this with customers in advance, so they don’t hold out for discounts that aren’t going to happen.
Considering the financial pressures businesses are under, they are going to have to make trade-offs between profit now and growth later so it’s important for them to analyse their data closely. Inevitably, rising costs will likely cause retailers to increase their prices in the short to medium term. To clear their inventory, retailers should focus on maximising the potential audience for their products. By marketing their products at full price via cross-border marketplaces, retailers can generate incremental sales at full margin that prevents having to sell those units at a reduced price in their domestic market.
Overall, the support of marketplaces can transform retailers’ strategies and boost growth in turnover and profits. Leveraging assets – such as existing infrastructure and inventory – and expanding reach to a global scale can be a highly effective defence against slow local demand. Ultimately, to sell more, businesses must grow the audience looking at their products by selling to international customers as well as local ones. Cross-border-centric marketplaces massively simplify execution of international growth strategies, which is particularly significant during the industry’s peak trading season.