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With Peak 2024 on the horizon, we’re getting a lot of questions from both existing clients and other eCommerce brands who want to ensure they have a successful Peak season this year.

So, we thought we’d put together an FAQ of our most asked questions, which we hope you’ll find useful for your preparations this year.

If you have any questions that we don’t answer below, please feel free to get in touch!

When does Peak officially start and end?

The short answer is that there is no official start and end date to the Peak period anymore. Once upon a time, there were two “Peak” periods; the Black Friday weekend and the lead up to Christmas.

Today, it’s the brands themselves that dictate when their Peak period begins and ends. Some decide to start Peak a couple of weeks before Black Friday, where others might play by the ‘rulebook’ and run promotions over the Black Friday weekend only.

From our end, we view Peak as a six week period, beginning mid-November and ending just before Christmas.

How can I best prepare for Peak?

The best thing you can do to prepare for Peak is start planning early. The earlier you start, the better prepared you’ll be. A lot of company’s begin their Peak preparations as early as August, with most starting September, or October at the latest.

To learn more about preparing for Peak, we’d recommend downloading our free Plan for Peak 2024 eBook, and reading our Peak Checklist article.

What are the most common mistakes businesses make over Peak?

The most common mistake eCommerce businesses make over Peak – by far – is failing to prepare properly. That’s usually because it’s their first busy Peak and they’ve not prepared at all, or they begin their preparations too late.

More specifically, some of the most common mistakes we see are: failure to forecast demand accurately; not scaling resources efficiently; and failing to set realistic expectations with customers.

How can I ensure my customer service team is ready to handle a surge in enquiries over Peak?

If you’re expecting a particularly busy peak, you might want to consider hiring seasonal staff. If you go down this route, make sure that they are fully trained on your procedures, which can also be a good time to give your existing staff some refresher training.

Also consider investing in tools that can make responding to customer enquiries more efficient. Chatbots are a cost-effective way to do this, especially if you make use of automated features that allow customers to self-serve their enquiries.

On that note, consider creating a ‘Knowledge Base’ on your website, with articles, FAQs, and helpful information that allows customers to find answers to their questions without contacting you directly.

How can I prepare my website for Peak?

With more traffic coming to your website, the first thing you need to do is check your hosting plan to make sure your website will be able to handle a larger volume of visitors. If traffic exceeds the capacity set out in your hosting plan, you may find your website runs slowly, and in a worst case scenario, crashes completely. So, speak with your hosting provider and temporarily upgrade your plan if necessary.

It’s also worth looking at your product pages ahead of Peak – especially the ones for products included in your promotions – to make sure they’re up to date and describe the product correctly. It’s worth taking a quick look at your shipping and returns policies too, and updating them if required.

How can I manage my returns through Peak?

Returns will happen over Peak, and short of having a no returns policy (which is unrealistic in today’s eCommerce landscape), it’s impossible to reduce the number of returns you get to zero.

However, there are steps you can take to minimise the cost of a return to your business, as well as reduce the number of returns you receive.

Reducing the cost of a return means putting a process in place that ensures returns are re-shelved and re-sold as quickly as possible. You can learn more about this in our returns management guide.

There are also ways to lower the likelihood of a customer making a return. Methods of doing so include detailed product pages, accurate and speedy fulfilment, and a stricter returns policy. Again, you can read about this in more detail in our returns management guide.

Any tips for engaging my customers over Peak?

Standing out from the crowd can be difficult, but it starts with a solid marketing plan and good community management, both in the build-up and over the Peak period.

You should prioritise putting together your marketing plan early. Content will be your bread and butter to generate engagement, particularly content that focuses on your brand, culture, and the value you offer to customers.

But it’s not good enough to simply create and distribute content. You’ll need to be proactive in engaging audiences that interact with your content, and take part in industry conversations. By following, interacting, and conversing with audiences online, you’ll build loyal and engaged followers and receive an algorithmic boost on social media platforms.

What’s the best way to clear old stock over the Peak season?

Peak can be the perfect time to clear out stock that you’re struggling to sell. Slow moving stock creates several problems for eCommerce brands, such as poorer cash flow, increased storage costs, and the inability to prioritise fast-moving lines.

Through the Peak period, you can incentivise customers to order poor performing lines while providing more value, the latter of which is what the Black Friday craze is all about.

Whether you use this time to run heavy discounts on slow moving items, bundle them in for free with select orders, or even give them away as part of a competition, Peak is the perfect time to make way for new, exciting, and profitable SKUs.

I want to work with a 3PL over Peak. Is it too late to partner with one?

That depends on the 3PL you want to partner with, as well as your current fulfilment solution. If you’re moving from one 3PL to another, it can take a while to move as you’ll need to be offboard with your current partner and onboard with your new one.

That said, at James and James, we’ve launched a Peak Fast Track Programme. If you enquire by November 3, we’ll onboard you through our streamlined Onboarding Process and get you fully set up in one week!

To learn more about the Peak Fast Track Programme, including the Eligibility Criteria, please click here!

Any more questions?

While we’ve tried to answer some of the most commonly asked questions here today, we appreciate that you might have more in need of an answer! Our fulfilment specialists will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, so don’t hesitate to fire away via our online form.

From everyone at James and James, we hope you have a successful Peak 2024!

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