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Seasonal Shopping Starts Early, But Support Planning Starts Earlier

For the world’s retailers and e-tailers, it’s crunch time. Holiday sales are being planned and tweaked, new product rollouts timed to the upcoming shopping frenzy, and staffs prepped for the onslaught that in years past traditionally kicked off in late November – welcome to seasonal shopping!

Wait a minute, you say. Isn’t it the dog days of summer? Granted, it seems like the holidays are pushed on us earlier and earlier each year, but this is ridiculous! Not so. Your favorite stores have been hard at work for the past few months, getting their ducks in a row to ensure their seasonal-shopping preparedness.

As marketers finesse their holiday strategy, service managers line up their seasonal support staffs and ready themselves for far larger volumes over last year. And it’s no pipe dream: This year’s ecommerce holiday sales are projected to increase by 13.3%. But as online sales have risen, the seasonal sales window has historically continued to shrink. Consumers know that they will receive their online orders more quickly than ever before, with a 3.45-day average ground-shipping time, so they allow themselves to procrastinate.

That’s why merchants are working to entice shoppers to hit the stores earlier this year, offering tax-free weekends and back-to-school sales in late summer. The strategy shows signs of working. One report shows nearly 10% of Americans having started their holiday purchases by early September, with the percentage growing exponentially with each passing month. This also means that seasonal support is needed sooner, and for longer periods, than ever before.

Year-end sales have traditionally made up a large percentage of a retailer’s annual revenue — so this is no time to make a misstep. Retailers looking to make the boundaries of the selling season more elastic face greater workforce challenges. It’s no wonder that so many of our clients are prepping their seasonal support staff now and planning for flexible bursts in support coverage for each new sales event and marketing push. Having an on-demand workforce is not only cost-efficient; it can alleviate pressures on your current staff. Now is exactly the right time to prepare for the holiday rush.

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