If you thought Boxing Day Sales were something to behold, you now need to prepare your business for sales starting long before the ‘official’ silly season. In fact, our 2018 State of Ecommerce Report found that November is now the busiest month for many of our retailers. It’s a time when the pre-Christmas sales that began in October start to get into full swing, when savvy shoppers get a headstart on their Christmas shopping, and it is also the month of the online shopping event: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Click Frenzy and the lessor-known Single’s Day. And these events are growing faster than ever with shoppers choosing to spend their dollars when sales are on with the hope of bagging a bargain.
To ensure you get a slice of the abundant holiday shopping pie you need a solid strategy in place—for your website, your retail platform, your shipping, your marketing and any promotions and discounts. We hope that you’ve already started preparing for the holiday season, but if you haven’t or if you’re are looking for some last-minute tips to get your business sorted, that’s what we’re here for. From November through to January, prepare to be busy!
Key Dates for Your Holiday Retail Calendar
Singles Day: Saturday 11th November 2018
This one may not be on your radar yet but watch this space. It’s China’s anti-Valentine’s Day or Bare Branches Day. Launched by online retail giant Alibaba, the idea is that people enjoy the opportunity to celebrate being single, by purchasing amazing gifts for themselves. According to Fortune: “more items were bought during the 24 hours of Singles Day than the entire combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the states”.
Click Frenzy (Go Wild): 7pm Tuesday 13th November 2018
This is the original and still the largest Click Frenzy event with three other events scattered throughout the year. Great deals and exclusive offers from retailers are brought together in one online shopping experience and when a shopper is ready to purchase they’ll be redirected to the retailer’s website. In order to access the 900,000+ shoppers, you’ll need to register your business and pay an advertising fee.
Black Friday: Friday 23rd November 2018
Traditionally the perfect cure for Thanksgiving food comas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday (also known as BFCM) have now grown to become the biggest retail weekend, across the globe. Black Friday has been around since the 50s in America as a post Thanksgiving, pre Christmas sale of the ‘queue at the doors and madly rush the store’ variety. In the last decade however, it’s spread not only around the world but also to the online space.
A large proportion of the market is still based in North America, but year-on-year, we’ve seen huge growth in many major economies including Europe, South Africa and the Asia Pacific.
Cyber Monday: Monday 26th November 2018
While bricks and mortar stores were getting all the attention on Black Friday, marketers then created Cyber Monday to shift the attention to online shopping. As with any successful retail promotion, Cyber Monday has ensured that at the very least, retailers can capitalize on a four-day shopping weekend from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. We’re sure this article will also help you come up with ways to build sales in the lead up to the long weekend too.
Capitalize on the Buzz of the Online Shopping Event
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Click Frenzy are not just for the big retailers. By adding the events into your strategy and communicating it through specific BFCM marketing campaigns, you’ll benefit from being one of the many retailers who will be getting involved. Consumers know these events are coming and it’s the one time of year that they’re prepared and ready to take action online. Don’t be scared to give people advanced notice either. We know that savvy shoppers research in advance so let them know you’ll have great deals and give them a reason (and a time) to return to your site and check you out again.
Create a Marketing Strategy
There’s no shortage of channels to choose from when it comes to marketing and advertising, and ideally you want to spread the word about your products and sales as wide as possible. But the reality is that you can’t do everything, so it’s important to weigh up your time, resources, costs and budget to determine the best marketing mix for your retail business.
1. Social media advertising
Ensure you utilize your own Facebook and Instagram pages to promote your upcoming sales but also invest in advertising. It’s vital that you install pixels to track visitors and to also retarget those who don’t complete a transaction. Facebook pixel will also help you create lookalike audiences and you can also target users who have shown interest in online shopping and your particular retail sector eg. fashion, outdoors etc.
Here’s some Facebook Ads we love:
- Rad - Clear, simple and enticing (so much so we barely notice the ‘up to’)
- Levi’s - Why not extend your sale beyond the traditional days and make it a Holiday Sale? A great use of branding and imagery here too.
- Best Buy - Treat your loyal customers with a sneak peak of your sales deals.
- Brooklinen - Their discount might not be as big as other retailers but by listing other features, it still looks like a great deal. And showing an image of someone opening their package always works in a FOMO kind of way.
2. Email communications
With email still delivering the highest ROI of any marketing channel, this medium should form a vital part of your holiday marketing strategy. Reward your loyal customers by giving them early access to your sale and let them know about it with a beautifully designed email (and why not embrace gifs!).
Want to optimize the chances of your email getting read? (Who are we kidding, of course you do!). The latest research by SmartrMail revealed that weekends are the best time of week for opens, but every audience is different, so look at your own data and schedule accordingly. And don’t forget to segment out the rest of your database and send tailored, personalized emails.
3. Click Frenzy
This online mega-sale is a marketing channel all on its own. There’s no commission payable, just an advertising fee to give you access to their database. Just ensure you get the offer and the message right, then let their marketing machine go to work.
4. Online marketplaces
Marketplaces like eBay and Amazon Australia are other great avenues for pushing your Black Friday, Cyber Monday, pre and post-Christmas deals. Our own research indicates that shoppers prefer marketplaces, and we also know that shoppers will hunt around for the cheapest price, so you should consider them an integral part of your holiday marketing strategy.
| Related Reading: Top Online Marketplaces: Where to Sell in 2018
5. CPC advertising
Works well but you can expect to pay a little more at this time for your keywords. Our best advice is to start early so you can beat your competitors and spend this time refining your strategy so that when the season really kicks in, you’ll be spending your budget efficiently. And don’t forget to look into the CPC options available through eBay and Amazon.
6. Traditional advertising
With a return to all things vintage and retro we’re also seeing a return to good-old paper-based advertising - something physical like a flyer, brochure or even a personalized card at Christmas can help get your brand into your customers’ hands, or if budget permits, why not investigate some radio advertising?
Promotions, Discounts and Coupons: Get Your Offer Right and Start Early
Everyone loves a bargain and it’s the driving force behind Click Frenzy, BFCM and holiday sales. The key here is to get your offer right and don’t leave it until the last minute. Decide on the types of promotions you want to offer and how and when you are going to communicate and amplify them with marketing. Look at your past sales history to see what worked and what didn’t. And remember to always test. Give yourself a few days at least to test the discounts in your retail platform—the time to get started is now!
Choosing Your Offer
For holiday sales, it’s not uncommon to see percentage discounts applied to certain products, categories or across an entire store, but discounts aren’t the only type of promotion you should consider. Here’s a few of the most popular and effective types of promotions:
1. Percentage off discount
Reducing the price of your products or product categories for a limited time is the most obvious type of promotion to run and will definitely give you the best response, increasing traffic to your website, cart size and conversions. Discounts are also a great way to move old stock, run a clearance for stocktake, and to nurture relationships with your loyal customers.
Unfortunately 10% won’t cut it in with the bigger online sales events like Click Frenzy, so think more along the lines of 30-50%. While your heart probably missed a beat thinking about that kind of discount, remember that online shopping events are an opportunity to create long term loyal customers and increased demand, all for the sake of a little short term profit pain. Do your calculations thoroughly so that you still cover costs and hopefully make a little profit and then you’re ready to go. Then swap it out for a smaller discount for your Christmas promotions.
2. Storewide sales
Yes, storewide sales are a type of percentage-off discount, but we’ve snuck this one in here as it’s an option worth considering if a huge discount is just too much of a risk for your business.
3. Free gift reward
Offering a bonus or free gift if customers spend over a certain amount is a great way to attract shoppers to your website and can help nudge a customer over the line. In the example below, Abrand Jeans utilizes a free bottle of Bondi Sands fake tan as a giveaway to entice customers to make their next purchase. It’s also a good idea to set an expiry on offers like these to create that sense of urgency.
A note on brands. Brand names are often all that shoppers are on the hunt for during sales. So if big-brand products are in your bag of goodies, consider using them as the lead-in items for your big sale or, partner up with a complementary brand like Abrand Jeans did with Bondi Sands and do some co-branded marketing.
4. Free shipping based on spend
Shipping costs can make or break sales, so a shipping discount is one of the best ways to encourage buyers to checkout, and offering free shipping when a customer spends over a certain amount is really effective at boosting basket size (we’ve all been there, browsing an ecommerce store’s catalogue looking for that additional product to push the total spend over the threshold).
In Neto you can quickly add a discount using the ‘Simple discount’ tool and you can choose for the discount to be applied automatically at checkout or customers can use a discount code.
You can further enhance the promotion by implementing additional rules or conditions, like if you only wanted to offer free shipping for purchases over $100 in the cosmetics product category, for example, you would simply add this as an extra condition in the set up. Check out the full list of discount conditions available and how to use them in Neto.
Don’t forget to test if the discounts works as you expect by creating a customer account for yourself, and logging into your website front-end to checkout a product using the promotion.
Prepare Your Website
This is a task that needs to incorporate both technical and marketing functions.
1. Test your server
To ensure it can handle the load, with particular attention to bandwidth and transaction volumes. Neto Customers: we’ve got you covered on this one; or alternatively make use of a free test with loadimpact.com.
2. Create landing pages
To ensure a seamless buying experience. If you’re participating in Click Frenzy, cobrand your page so that customers know they’re in the right place. List the items that are on sale and reinforce the Discount Coupon Code they’ll need to access the deal, or better yet, build it into the link from your landing page to the product. Also, create pages for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year sales where you can direct all your email, online and social advertising.
3. Ensure you're mobile ready
This should hopefully already be part of your business strategy but when it comes to sales time, many shoppers are grabbing a bargain on the go and doing so from their mobile. In fact PayPal’s research published in our State of Ecommerce Report suggests that 72% of users are mobile. Your website needs to be easy to navigate via mobile or you run the risk of losing a big chunk of sales. Even if you website is mobile optimized, it’s always a good idea to test every new page on mobile to be doubly sure.
4. Update your website branding and marketing messages
To specifically promote your sales. We’re talking banner images, buttons and feature products so that you maximize sales from all customers who land on your website during November, but don’t forget to keep the UX nice and clean. We’ve even created a Retail Marketing Kit with a heap of holiday themed templates to get you started.
5. Test, test and test again
To ensure that everything works exactly the way it should and that customers don’t get confused at any stage in the buying process. Include testers from outside the business and start the process from the initial touch point – whether it’s a Click Frenzy listing, a Facebook ad or an EDM, click through and check that you land exactly where you should and can complete the transaction with minimal fuss.
Get Your Back-Office Sorted
This is vital at any time of the year but there’s nothing like a bumper sales season to really test your processes and procedures.
1. Abandoned Shopping Carts
With so many visitors checking out your sale items, you’re bound to lose a few in the process. If they’re a current account holder, you can subtly remind them with a series of email messages. If they’re not, you can retarget them through Facebook or digital ads with the use of tracking pixels.
Accurate tracking, increased par levels and overall effective inventory management are vital to meeting the extra demands of sales season, particularly when you have orders coming in from multiple channels. In Neto, our built-in inventory solution syncs orders and stock across your ecommerce, marketplace channels, and in-store, which is one less thing to worry about at Christmas!
When it comes to sales time, customers want their bargains and they want it now. Ensure you offer both standard and express shipping and consider offering free shipping to ensure you don’t lose the sale to a competitor who does offer it.
4. Returns and Customer Service
While this is a vital aspect of your business, it’s especially important during sales periods. Ensure you have a clear returns policy and update it if need be to cover sales items. You might also like to consider a Neto add-on like Zendesk to create a customer support center for all enquiries and returns.
It’s always wise to offer a variety of payment methods to ensure that no sale slips through the cracks. From PayPal and credit cards to Buy Now Pay Later options, customers expect a choice of options these days.
And as our parting tip, be sure to analyze and report on every aspect of your end of year sales. From numbers of transactions and methods of payments through to successful marketing campaigns and website traffic referrals. it all creates great information for next year’s strategy.
Now are you ready to face the crowd of bargain shoppers? If your online retail platform is not quite up for the challenge why not take advantage of our Free Neto Trial.
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