Published Jul 18, 2023

4 Key Takeaways for Getting Operationally Ready for 2023 Holiday Sales


For many ecommerce and retail businesses, preparations are currently underway for the 2023 holiday sale season. Despite recent economic uncertainty, a majority of businesses remain optimistic for the busiest shopping season of the year. 

Last month, Celigo hosted a webinar to help businesses get operationally ready for 2023 holiday sales

The webinar featured a panel of industry experts:

  • Kohl Perkins, Head of Business Development, eBay
  • Emma Irvine, Retail Acquisition & Former Merchant, Shopify
  • Sanaz Hajizadeh, Director of Product, Happy Returns
  • Kevin Marvinac, VP of Partnerships, ShipBob

We asked several questions about how each ecommerce leader prepares for the holiday sales. Here are the survey results from that event!



Preparation Readiness

Some of the Biggest Operational Challenges

Technologies Leveraged

Overall Key Responses

Meet Customers Where They Are 

Our expert panel discussed that while consumers will continue to make purchases during the 2023 holiday sale season, their habits have changed. To expand reach and increase sales, brands, retailers, and resellers need to connect with their customers where they are.

This means not only listing products on marketplaces but also advertising on search engines and social media platforms. In 2022, global social advertising spending was $230 billion, and it’s expected to increase to $300 billion in 2024.

It’s important to prioritize the channels where your target audience is most active but also to diversify your strategy to gain a competitive advantage. Take into account the different demographics and shopping behaviors of each channel, and invest accordingly based on potential return on investment.

Emma said, “If you don’t meet your shoppers where they already are, you’re going to have a hard time converting them.”

Plan, Forecast, and Manage Inventory 

According to surveyed ecommerce leaders, 16% have issues with accurate visibility into inventory levels. No ecommerce or retail business wants to be stuck with out-of-stock inventory, potentially driving away would-be customers from making purchases from their storefronts. However, it’s also important not to be left with too much inventory that doesn’t sell.

Emma said the best way to maximize profits while minimizing losses is to use data to focus on items that will be in demand and sell them at a steady increased rate.

“Data is king,” she said. “If you have the data to support the products that are going to be the highest sellers, that’s where you’re going to increase your inventory. And you want to avoid having a surplus of inventory in those areas than those products that the data isn’t backing.”

Make Returns Easier 

Regarding returns management, Kevin said he has seen many merchants trying to make returns harder. They think that will reduce their return rate, but it actually adds more challenges to their operations.

“What you’re actually doing, you’re annoying your customer,” he said. “You’re annoying your CX team because now, instead of focusing on selling and fulfilling and finishing the abandoned checkout and reaching out to that customer to finish that sale, they now have to deal with all these 20 hoops that you made. And overall, you lose the customer as a loyal customer.”

Sanaz agreed, emphasizing the importance of having a clear, concise return policy, especially during the holiday season. “79% of shoppers check with their policy before shopping,” she said. “So if they’re confused, and they’re not confident, they will not check out, right? So you want to make sure those are really the tools that you have upfront to manage and reduce your return rate.”

Improve Ecommerce Operations with Automation 

In our webinar survey, delays in fulfillment (35%) and accurate fulfillment of orders (27%) were the top two operational challenges that attendees faced with holiday sales. While being properly staffed or utilizing third-party fulfillment (3PL) logistics providers can help alleviate some of those challenges; our experts also discussed the importance of utilizing the right software and tools in fulfillment, 3PL, and other business processes.

Kohl said the biggest pitfalls that ecommerce and retail businesses face during holiday sale planning are not properly utilizing the right tools and a lack of automation.

“If you’re not automated, if there’s manual to your current process, whether that’s in inventory or connection to marketplaces, I’d reevaluate that and look at tools like Celigo to help you,” he said.

To gain additional insights from our expert panel, watch “Expert Panel: How to Get Operationally Ready for 2023 Holiday Sales.”

→ Watch the on-demand webinar here!