Getting in Control During Peak Trading

James Brooke
October 18, 2021
5 mins

Peak trading is one of the hardest, busiest times in any retail business’ calendar. Be it Black Friday, Cyber Monday or the Christmas shopping period, when traffic is set to spike, you know the stress and headaches will follow suit.

With so much revenue riding on Peak periods, the pressure is firmly on, especially for the eCommerce and marketing teams involved in delivering digital experiences during those times. That’s why they start planning months in advance, trying to ensure every promotion, content piece and campaign is thoroughly thought out well ahead of time.

Every minute, every hour of a Peak campaign, businesses need to know what content is live and where. And as if this isn’t hard enough, with the rise in digital content consumption and online shopping, the complexity and volume of content and promotions is getting greater every year, with the number of devices and storefronts teams need to cater for also increasing. A lot is on the line, there’s little room for error, and many retailers are stuck with tools and technology that make it increasingly difficult.

The sheer volume and complexity of change

Online content and promotions are continually changing, but during Peak the volume of these changes is ramped up exponentially. Brands like Liberty London say that where content usually changes weekly, Peak sees content changing daily, or even faster.

Teams are also dealing with time sensitive promotions, content going live across multiple different devices, on multiple different storefronts, and for multinational eCommerce retailers the added layers of different locales and languages must be equated for too.

The amount of pressure

eCommerce teams are under pressure to get everything right, but even with great planning they often have to react to events to try keeping up. This could be last minute creative or content changes, products selling out and needing to be removed from the site, tweaks to content to optimize its delivery or the customer experience or having to fix something that has broken.

Stuck on the wall and stuck in Excel

Content production for retailers is complex with a lot of moving parts and people involved in the process. Put simply though, many tools and processes retailers are currently using simply can’t take on the day-to-day production needs, let alone Peak. Some retailers are still planning content in Excel, some are still printing out or sticking up post-it notes to walls, mapping out all content changes across all categories in the office. It’s manual, time-consuming, open to error and importantly not effective in helping to deliver the digital experiences customers are expecting.

The risk of moving to anything new

Many retailers know they must work smarter and that their systems or processes are not up to scratch. But realising the change needed and achieving the digital maturity to implement it is hard. There’s risk involved and any technological change comes with its own set of challenges. So, they stick with what they know.

Businesses need to take the time to really understand what they want to achieve and what needs to happen to achieve these things. Then it’s a case of getting internal stakeholders on board and not letting the day to day get in the way. But again, we all know this can be easier said than done.

Taking back control

What retailers need is content management and experience solutions that have been built to specifically solve the issues retailer’s face every day and especially during Peak.

These will give retailers and their technical users the control they need and allows them to manage a vast amount of overlapping and concurrent content within different contexts, channels and experiences.

Think about “the wall”. How can this be replicated in the digital world to deliver a streamlined and collaborative way for teams to produce content, from conception and amends through to sign off and delivery. Look out for planning and calendar tools that show what content will appear and when, and a timeline that displays how content is stacking up and how each piece interacts with others. This gives users the visibility and flexibility they need to stay on top of the volume of content changes Peak brings and stops unplanned for issues arising.

It’s on the schedule

Modern CMS solutions like Amplience’s have advanced scheduling tools, so users can schedule content whenever they please and in different time zones. With the ability to add start and end dates for any content, be it individual components of a page or an entire page, they can set the desired publish time/s and then move onto something else.

When it comes to quality, the main culprit is the inability to see and experience how content will display and function when live. By implementing previewing functionality, users will be able to view exactly what will be published. For us that means giving users the ability to preview the whole experience and all content and components in real-time and in-situ, across any device or storefront., and they can send a preview URL to any stakeholder in the business.

Digital experience platform

The biggest challenges during Peak are faced by those with multiple storefronts, and they really need a digital experience platform. This gives retailers the freedom to manage the entire journey across all devices, share content easily across different storefronts and make changes that will be implemented simultaneously. There’s little duplication of work and time wasted at the busiest time of the retail year.

To manage the whole experience requires a collaborative approach between teams, especially between business and technical users. Collaborative tools help bring teams together while also empowering all users to create and manage content when needed. Look out for low-code frontend environments coupled with proven integration ability to help streamline the entire workflow and eliminate developer bottlenecks. Ultimately it allows change to occur more easily.

It’s time to take the stress out of Peak season. It’s time to deal with all the content changes and complexity with a lot more ease. It’s time to take control by using the right solution.