It may be the first week of October and still four weeks away from Halloween, but if you’re like me, you’ve already encountered Santa hanging out with the ghosts and jack-o-lanterns in your local department stores. The retail holiday season is already well underway, and to help you prepare for your busiest season, we’re kicking off our fifth annual “Holiday Prep” blog series.

From bot management to digital experience to holiday sales roundups, our blogs provide advice and insights to set you up for success this holiday season. To get you started, we recently published a full report dedicated to all things holiday, A Retailer’s Guide To The 2023 Holiday Season, and are sharing three pieces of advice from the report here:

  1. Manage fulfillment expectations with accurate planning. In December 2022, one-third of US online adults experienced estimated (promised) shipping time frames that were longer than expected (i.e., deliveries were late). Customers need transparency about delivery timelines, clear schedules and prominently displayed deadlines, and investment in optimization technology like OMSes. That optimization will enable you to simultaneously promise delivery timelines that meet your customers’ expectations and manage shipping costs during the season of peak order volume.
  2. Decrease website clutter and run promotions that customers actually want. Coupons, discounts, and promotions can benefit customers, but the common practice of overloading sites with promotional content detracts from the site’s usability. Instead, focus on understanding what your customers really want — for example, our data consistently shows that free shipping is one of the most influential factors that determine which retailer they purchase from online.
  3. Show that you care. Holidays can be emotionally difficult times for many customers. Empathize with your customers to better understand their needs this holiday season and look for opportunities to show your support. More brands are offering their customers a holiday marketing opt-out option to be more sensitive.

Stay tuned for more holiday insights in the coming weeks, and please get in touch if you have any questions. Forrester clients: Our analyst colleagues are happy to speak with you via inquiry or guidance session. Wishing you a very successful end-of-year holiday season!