With so much revenue riding on the Peak period from Black Friday through to the Boxing Day sales, the pressure of peak is firmly on the ecommerce and marketing teams responsible for delivering digital experiences. Practice makes perfect, which is why plans are laid down months’ ahead, right down to every special offer and each item of content.
Control over content is essential. Knowing what is live and on which channel, catering for numerous devices and storefronts, and keeping up with a rapid turnover of changes can leave little room for error. Brands like Liberty London report that where content usually changes weekly, the Peak period sees it change daily, or even faster. Which is why it can be a very challenging time if a retailer does not have the right digital tools at their disposal.
Teams are dealing with time-sensitive promotions and for those catering to multinational audiences, there are added layers of different locales and languages that must be allowed for too. They are pulling everything together from last-minute creative or content changes, products selling out and needing to be removed from the site, tweaks to content to optimise its delivery or the customer experience or having to fix something that has broken.
Keeping on top of this level of content production is challenging for retailers at the best of times, but managing the moving parts and people involved in the process during Peak can often be too much. 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, subject to error and most significantly it doesn’t help to deliver the kind of digital experiences that customers expect.
Planning for change
Recognising that they need to work smarter and that systems and processes are letting them down is one thing for retailers. Bringing about change and achieving the digital maturity to implement it is much harder. The element of risk and facing up to the technological unknown can be enough to stop digitalisation projects before they even get started.
The best approach is for retailers to take time to really consider their objectives and how they can achieve them. They need to bring stakeholders on board and plan for change so everyday processes don’t get in the way.
What would benefit them is content management and experience solutions that have been built to specifically solve the issues retailers face every day and especially during Peak.
These provide retailers and their technical users with the control they need so they can manage a vast amount of overlapping and concurrent content within different contexts, channels and experiences.
Visualise a digital landscape onto which every content item is plotted from conception and amends through to sign off and delivery. Solutions can provide 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 retailers the visibility and flexibility they need to stay on top of the volume of content changes Peak delivers and stops unexpected issues arising.
Modern CMS solutions include advanced scheduling tools, so content appears at the right moment and in different time zones. With the ability to add start and end dates for any content, whether it’s individual components of a page or an entire page, they can set the desired publish time/s and then start a new task.
Managing the quality of content depends on being able to see and experience how it will display and function when it is live. By implementing previewing functionality, ecommerce and marketing teams will be able to view exactly what will be published. 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.
The biggest challenges during Peak are faced by retailers with multiple storefronts, and for them the best option is a digital experience platform. This provides the freedom they need to manage the entire journey across all devices, share content easily across different storefronts and make alterations that will be implemented simultaneously. It eliminates duplication and saves time, which is a bonus during the Peak period.
Being collaborative to reduce the pressure of peak
Planning for this means that teams must work collaboratively, particularly business and technical teams. Collaborative tools help to bring them together while also empowering them to create and manage content when needed. Retailers can take advantage of low-code frontend environments together with proven integration ability that will streamline the entire workflow and eradicate developer bottlenecks.
If it looks like Peak is set to be stressful again, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that managing content changes and complexity would be a lot easier with the right solution.
By James Brooke, CEO at Amplience