Can an Online Storekeeper Take a Holiday?
Depending on the products and services, summer can be a quiet or the busiest season in terms of sales. Talking about summer holiday or holiday in general, what is the situation of the online storekeeper? Can s/he take a holiday and if yes, what is required in that case?
Nowadays, physical presence is rarely needed. If the products sold are digital, can the store be run whenever, wherever. When selling concrete products, labour is needed at least for managing the stock, packaging and handling returns as well as for logistics.
Fix the core processes
When the core processes of the online store (stock, logistics, customer service, marketing) are in order, can they smoothly be taken care of even when the storekeeper is on holiday. If the services in question have not been outsourced, must the storekeeper at least take care of the following:
- Monitoring stock status and, if necessary, make supplementary orders. Hence, the orders will be delivered in time and there will not be any delays due to holiday.
- Collecting items and packaging. Many storekeepers have outsourced their stock operations since that enables them to concentrate more on developing the store and its marketing.
- Shipping the items and taking care of returns. Did you know that the consumer protection policy of online store and therefore the return policy of an online store has changed along with the new EU directive on the 13th of June 2014? Read the bulletin of the Ministry of Justice here.
Handy browser-based tools
When using handy browser-based tools, it is easy for the storekeeper to keep track on what is going on even on holiday. Orders and sales can be studied directly from the admin view of the store or with email notifications. It is quite typical that online storekeepers never take a 100% holiday from their work but monitor the business to a certain extent even on holiday. Nowadays you usually only need a browser or email.
Make sure that your store's customer service works well when you are on holiday. If you have not hired a substitute for customer service for the holiday period, is it wise to check and react to emails even on holiday. Do not tell your customers that you are on holiday. Online store customers are used to shopping regardless of time and date so closing the store for holiday does not suit online store's business logic. Basically your customers do not need to know about your holiday unless you yourself make it known.
Online store marketing does not need to stop when the storekeeper is on holiday. With various marketing tools it is possible to schedule online store offer letters and social media shares - this is how your store stays active and visible during your holiday as well. The only thing you need is a bit of planning so that the messages are ready before your holiday starts.
More and more often, online stores also make use of marketing automation, i.e. automatic marketing letters. These are e.g. abandoned shopping cart alerts or offer letters formed according to browsing and purchase history.
Storekeeper's point of view:
For this article, we talked to two storekeepers using LianaCommerce. Both of them are planning to take a summer holiday in their own way. Both storekeepers sell concrete products and have a stock of their own.
Storekeeper A: On holiday, reachable if needed
We have hired an employee for the summer who will take care of stock management, shippings, returns and customer service. I will not fully be on holiday, though, since I want to monitor the daily sales also during summertime. I monitor the sales from the store's user interface with my mobile phone and I am reachable by phone if the employee has any questions.
Storekeeper B: Working on holiday
I did not have the possibility to hire a summer worker so I run the store on my own. I get an email notification of everything that happens in the store so that I am able to keep track on orders and emails etc. Basically I am working for the whole summer, or at least I am online. For one week I will be travelling and will not take care of stock or shippings. For that particular week I have set a longer delivery time. The customers will not see this as something negative since my store anyway uses a so-called dynamic delivery time, which calculates the delivery time according to product and its current stock and availability information.
In an online store almost everything is done digitally. Only the shippings and returns bind the storekeeper to a certain time and place. If the shippings and returns are taken care of and the digital tools are in order, will the online storekeeper be able to take a holiday without worries. We at Liana Technologies are available throughout the summer so if you want to discuss online commerce and digital marketing, just contact us!