3 Common Challenges Retailers Face During the Holiday Season

Last holiday season, 2/3 of the nation’s leading 40 retailers missed their expected sales projections. This happened despite 2016-2017 being the biggest holiday shopping season since 2011.

Why would this happen? What’s going on? What can you learn from the struggles the largest retailers in the nation face?

Check out a few of the highlights below:

Online Purchases and Fulfillment Cost Far More than Expected

Some of these leading retailers notice much higher online sales than others. Despite their increased revenue, however, their net profit missed expectations.


They don’t have the behind-the-scenes logistical network in place to efficiently fulfill demand. This inability to manage online orders hurt market leaders so badly that, even though their online sales outpaced the competition by a wide margin, they still had an overall disappointing holiday sales season.

That’s the first major area to analyze both this year and going forward.

Personalizing Their Online Shopping Experience

Personalization is no secret. But doing it in a way that works for your shoppers remains a challenge.

For example, imagine you visit a leading retailer’s website, shopping for NFL gear for your favorite team. Your 7-year-old daughter uses your account to look for her favorite dolls a little while later.

When you use your account later on, you’re bombarded with ads for dolls for 7-year-old girls. And then later you see ads for NFL gear.

Isn’t this an excusable mistake?

Not anymore. Today, your website needs to understand the various contexts in which you, and others who use your account, might shop. It needs to then deliver a relevant shopping experience based on what you’re doing right now, even if multiple people use the same account for different reasons.

A Complex Online Check-Out Experience

Once customers have what they want online, they want to get through your check-out process as fast as possible.

They should only have to do these steps:

  • Give you their billing info
  • Have an option to pay with gift cards
  • Enter their shipping address (or simply check a box showing both are the same)
  • Purchase

That’s it. You can give them the option to create an account or join your email list. However, these should be options with checkboxes, and they shouldn’t require action before customers can advance. That makes them truly an option.

Some of these problems you can easily fix. Others are long-term projects. Regardless, they’re all important to your holiday sales season.