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As we progress into the proverbial dog days of summer, it might be surprising to hear that now is the right time to start thinking about the coming holiday season, Cyber Week, and what steps you need to take to ensure you’re prepared and positioned to win online this year.

Too often, people on the business and technical side hit October and realize they have not built in enough time to plan for holiday, creating an enormous and undue amount of stress on the organization. With a little preparation and organization now, that stress can and should be avoided.

To avoid those messy surprises that will have you working a 72-hour shift over a four-day weekend, here’s a three-pronged approach that should prove helpful in that sprint to Black Friday:

1. Keep The Business Front and Center

First and foremost, sure you did the post-holiday wrap-up reports back in January about key learnings, what worked, what didn’t, etc. It’s time to dust those off and refresh your memory. Endeavor to take what happened last year and project that to what will happen this year, and update specific processes that will enable the business to move forward.

Second, take a good look at where the business stands today. How is your digital commerce and sales tracking through mid-year? Tracking existing performance and sales velocity against specific promotions or holidays and holding that up when it comes to inventory and fulfillment center capacity is a good starting point as you think about ramping up significantly for the holiday season. Mapping performance to what products you anticipate being big sellers this holiday season should also give you an indication of your capacity and ability to fill orders.

2. Check Your Tech

There are some things you can do now that are impactful and that will save time, headache and money later. Consumers want to be engaged with retailers on their terms, so it’s important to pick one or two customer-driven functionality items that you can add to your online/in-store capabilities.

At the very basic level, consumers want options and visibility when it comes to fulfillment and picking up packages. Upgrade or refine the technology so people can always see the status of their package (where it is, when it will be ready, whether it will be delivered to their home, a traveling destination, or is available for in-store pickup). The…