Retailist: How do you think that global supply chain delays will affect holiday shopping this year? What can ecommerce businesses do right now to get ahead of any potential disruptions?
Arjun: The global supply chain delays will cause inventory shortage for the holiday season. There are bound to be empty shelves and even if inventory is available, it will be at higher prices. Holiday shoppers won’t get everything on their wish lists and will be paying more for when and what they do get.
eCommerce businesses will need to encourage holiday shoppers to start early to avoid any last minute disappointments. I would strongly recommend eCommerce businesses and shoppers both to get started well before the Black Friday/Cyber Monday window.
Do you believe that increased consumer access to Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) options will lead to a notable boost in online sales this holiday season?
Yes — certainly, especially for the high order value products. Of course, the catch in the story is the inventory supply. If the brands have inventory, BNPL should certainly lead to increased consumer purchases.
What are some best practices that you would share with brands selling on Amazon specifically? Why is Amazon still a great platform through which to sell goods in comparison to a brand’s direct site or Etsy, for example?
The reach and reputation of Amazon makes it the de facto platform of choice as a marketplace. Assess your product-market fit, start with a small catalog, understand the nuances of increasing visibility and conversions on Amazon and then repeat the same drill to introduce more SKUs to the catalog. I would very highly recommend starting with Amazon even if your eventual goal is to only do commerce via your own website as it would help you learn all the fundamentals of distribution and planning for inventory and budget allocations needed for marketing and promotions. Starting with a brand’s direct site would mean very heavy marketing spends which not all entrepreneurs may have access to. Once you have run on Amazon for a while, you can take that call.
Do you think ‘reseller brands’ such as Poshmark, Mercari or Depop will see a rise in sales this holiday?
Yes. In the last 18 months, consumers have accumulated $670B in excess savings from their regular income. Retail, and all forms of it, will certainly see the benefit of this.
We are seeing the ‘influencer economy’ on social media (i.e. TikTok creators) continuing to impact consumer behavior and buying decisions. What are some ways in which direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands can adjust their marketing strategies to take advantage of this trend?
The most important aspect of your business is the distribution channel and for an early brand — there is some validation also that is needed. Yes — influencers like celebrities can have a huge impact on both aspects when the choice of influencer, the product and the value you want to convey all go hand in hand. It all starts with understanding your product and your consumers really well. What’s the persona of your customer? Now, identify an influencer that would strike the right chord with the consumers and the value that you want to portray as a brand and ensure that the consumers resonate that value with the influencer.
As we can see from our conversation with Arjun, the 2021 holiday season will likely be challenging for retailers. In order to stay ahead of global supply chain issues and other obstacles that may unfortunately wreak havoc on holiday shopping this year, brands should start their holiday push early and get creative with opportunities like influencer marketing and BNPL options for their customers.
About Arjun Narayan
Arjun Narayan is currently the CEO of SalesDuo, the leading omnichannel solution helping brands grow on Amazon through its Business Intelligence dashboard. Arjun is an Ex-Amazon business leader with 17 years of experience, 10 of which have been as an Entrepreneur and CEO. Arjun has successfully built and exited two companies, further demonstrating his proven track record as an executive and expert within business development, growth optimization, logistics, and retail technology.
Winning brands will trust the science – and data – of human behavior, and resist the urge to focus on price, or simply do little. Rather, brand and retail leaders should be diagnosing the elements of the experience they provide – or could provide via activation like promotions and digital content – to ensure they retain consumers, and even attract new users.
It’s a balance between creating relevancy and not limiting reach – in other words; you need to be creating targeted campaigns that resonate with your ideal shoppers and give your advertisers the exposure they are paying for.
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