3 Steps to Prep for Dads and Grads

May 12, 2014 4:01 PM  By

dad-grad-850Customer behavior during the summer holidays is quite different from the winter and Christmas shopping season. In the winter, consumers are buying gifts for a variety of loved ones, friends and charities over a few weeks or months leading up to the holidays.

On the flip side, the summer holidays have a much shorter lead time for purchasing gifts and people generally only purchase gifts for one or two recipients, like dads and grads.

While this can present a challenge for retailers, it’s also a great opportunity to connect with new shoppers and build customer loyalty. With graduation and Father’s Day right around the corner, now is the time for retailers to get prepared to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

There are several steps retailers can take to ensure they are ready for this summer’s upcoming holidays.

Plan and execute promotions

Since consumers tend to shop a week or two in advance for Father’s Day and graduation gifts, these purchases will be much more last minute compared to the fourth quarter holiday shopping rush.

When running last minute deals and promotions, offering customers free shipping and featuring suggested products picked especially for dads and grads will encourage customers to purchase. Sending targeted email promotions during the week before Father’s Day and around graduation season are also effective marketing strategies.

Additionally, it’s beneficial to broaden your definition of dads and grads. For example, retailers can increase sales and order size by reminding customers that grandfathers, husbands and grads of all ages will enjoy recognition and gifts.

Keep in mind that with your promotions launching a couple of weeks in advance, it’s important to run promotions and sales on items that you currently have stocked in your warehouse. If you are running promotions on inventory that you don’t have stocked and ready to go, you will likely run into problems with out-of-stock merchandise and delays in delivery. This can tarnish the customer experience and hurt brand loyalty.

Make sure your inventory is in the right place

Prepare your warehouse for an uptick in orders the week leading up to Father’s Day and graduation season. You should optimize your pick and pack lines in advance by keeping popular products in locations closer to pack stations and setting up speed lines for fast-moving products.

Accurate planning and forecasting is the key to being adequately prepared ahead of holiday rushes, especially ones with short lead times. However, even with accurate forecasting, it’s important to have the capital, resources and technology necessary to meet surges in demand.

By enlisting the support of a qualified 3PL or logistics partner, retailers can make sure they are prepared to flex for an increase in orders during short-term promotional periods, like Father’s Day and graduation.

Plan your shipping cutoff and clearly communicate it to consumers

Last winter holiday, many retailers struggled to deliver packages as promised on Christmas. It’s important to avoid making this mistake.

As always around the holidays, you must consider the time packages will spend in transit and plan accordingly. To make sure orders arrive in time for Father’s Day and graduations, tell customers about your shipping cutoff date and estimated arrival upfront. Retailers can also coordinate promotions based on location to ensure timely delivery. If a customer lives close to a warehouse, it can be beneficial to feature the products in stock at a nearby location for quicker delivery times.

Summer holidays are a great opportunity for retailers to capture new customers and sales, but this hinges on providing a top-notch shopping experience and on-time deliveries. By following this checklist for success, retailers can ensure their experience meets customer expectations and drives sales year-round.

Maria Haggerty is president of Dotcom Distribution.