Christmas chaos can spell disaster for online brands

I would hope that the results of Marketing Week’s Christmas shopping survey (MW 12 November), which found that 69% of people are planning to do more Christmas shopping online this year, should come as no surprise to retailers.

But even if the results are as expected, how many of those ecommerce retailers are really prepared to cope with the influx of traffic and have organised their logistics, fulfilment and back-office systems in line with this increased demand? Failure at Christmas can spell disaster for a brand. If it cannot deliver the service and products that customers need and want, then a consumer can be turned off a brand for life.

With just over three weeks to go, the behaviour of Christmas shoppers is likely to be radically different to other times. It makes me wonder how well brands are responding to this and if they are organising their websites in the most effective manner so that they are able to cope.

But, crucially, brands have got to think beyond the Christmas peak and look at how they are going to maintain customer interest, loyalty and spend in the long term. The Christmas period presents a major opportunity for an ecommerce site to not only be an effective shop, but also a marketing and merchandising tool that captures customer information and preferences.

This will create richer customer insight and better and more integrated and relevant marketing campaigns. All of this helps a retailer to build a sustainable competitive advantage for months, years and Christmases to come.

Terry Hunter, Managing director, CyberDMG

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