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2019 Holiday Calendar and Peak Season Tips

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January 18, 2019

The 2018 holidays may have just ended, but it’s not too soon to begin thinking about 2019, and not just Christmas.  According to Internet Retailer, five holidays — from Halloween 2017 through back-to-school 2018 — accounted for close to $137 billion in online sales.

Sure, there’s a lot you can do up to the last minute before blast-off – whether that’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Halloween. But time, talent and investment are required to lay a solid foundation and leverage a full calendar of holidays as sales opportunities. So, how can you move the needle this year? What are your peak season dates? Here is a calendar to help you start planning for peaks along with top tips to drive performance.

Record What Worked and What Didn’t

Analyze key successes and failures in the past year. Create concise paperwork and presentations that can be accessed during next year’s planning, which will ensure you avoid repeating mistakes and carry key learnings into next year.

Start Early

Plan early for success. Trading strategies, marketing and promotional activities, order management and fulfillment plans, and team structure all can be planned in-depth, in advance. Potential challenges such as marketing budgets, replatforming, load testing or resourcing should be identified and addressed early. Choose your most important holiday and plan backwards by at least six months.

Expect the Unexpected

Be ready for the unexpected, so teams know how to react when things don’t go according to plan (think outages, volume spikes, inventory availability). Peak readiness and ‘war game planning’ is vital for a business to think quickly and understand how all eventualities will be handled. With specific responsibilities and contingencies in place you not only can keep revenue flowing during peak but protect brand reputation should any problems arise.

Test. Test. And Test Again.

Platform glitches are significantly more likely to arise during peak time. The only way to be sure errors don’t arise during peak is by load and performance testing as early and often as possible in your peak preparation. Everyone knows downtime is expensive. For every minute of downtime, Amazon loses $220,000 in revenue. In fact, check out this nifty Gremlin estimator that calculates how much each second of downtime costs some of the largest eCommerce retailers in the U.S. The point is this — where possible, remove potential bottlenecks in your front end and back end, making the platform scalable and stress-free when the crunch comes.

Be Agile

The retailers who capitalize most during peak are often those prepared to innovate. Whether that’s driving a radical social media or digital advertising campaign, launching a new product, going mobile with improved UX or an app, or offering same-day shipping for the first time. Trying something new will show existing customers you’re willing to evolve, as well as attracting a new audience.
2019 Holiday calendar - ecommerce opportunities to plan for

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