There we said it... Christmas. We might be getting in early, but it's worth taking the time now to prepare your business.
The holiday season will be upon us before we know it and planning your strategy on the run as things start to heat up in November and December is probably not the best approach. Our advice? Take some time out while it’s still reasonably quiet to get your ducks in a row. From marketing and inventory management through to infrastructure capabilities and customer service issues, here’s a tick list of items that need your attention now.
If you’ve traded through previous holiday shopping seasons then you’ll have some great insights into what’s likely to happen this year. Take the time now to answer these questions for your business to set up the foundation for your Christmas trading period.
- What type of products sold well last year and what didn’t?
- When did ecommerce sales start to increase? When did in-store sales start to increase?
- What did your sales look like at this time last year? Chances are if they’re up year-on-year then your year-end sales will be too.
- Check out last year’s returns, unsold items and discounts and see if there are any worrying trends that could be better handled this year. And while you’re at it, cast your mind back to any external issues you experienced with suppliers and couriers.
- Take a look at your current slow moving stock items and set up a promotion so you get it moving and free up valuable warehouse space.
- What’s happening in your industry?
- Which days are typically the biggest days for holiday spending?
- What new products are likely to be popular?
- How is overall consumer sentiment? It’s looking good according to Westpac and Trading Economics.
Before you even begin to strategize, here are a few vital dates (for online and offline) that you’ll need to work with:
- Tuesday 13 November 2018 - Click Frenzy sale. (Read More: Increase Sales by 200% with Click Frenzy)
- Friday 23 November 2018 - Black Friday
- Monday 26 November 2018 - Cyber Monday
- Saturday 22 December 2018 - In 2017, Comm Bank declared that over a quarter of Australians do the majority of their Christmas shopping on the Saturday before Christmas.
- Wednesday 26 December - Boxing Day sales
- Tuesday 1 January - Stocktake and end of season sales
Download our 2018-19 Retail Calendar and be prepared for all the key dates the festive season.
Build your Marketing Strategy
With the above key dates in mind, start creating a marketing strategy and campaigns that include your website, social media and email marketing. Get into the spirit with theming that can be as over the top or as subtle as your brand allows but also include more strategic messaging such as order deadlines for pre-Christmas delivery. It’s also an ideal time to create new product categories such as seasonal decorations and themed gifts, plus gift lists by price or by interest (think kids of certain ages, work Secret Santas and gifts for those who seemingly have everything!).
Your social media campaigns can include countdowns and product features or why not give video or live videos a go? If you’re participating in Click Frenzy be sure to also let your followers and subscribers know all about it.
One of the most important areas of your strategy should be your email direct marketing campaigns. After all, these are your loyal (and maybe not so loyal) customers and subscribers. The holiday season works well with a slow-build approach starting out with an exclusive pre-season offer or discount, followed by new products and reminders of how long before key dates and cut offs – even a last minute Express Post offer for delivery before Christmas. Plus, if you don’t already have abandoned cart recovery emails now’s the time to set a communication cycle in place. As an ongoing focus, you should also consider how you will communicate with the new customers you gain over Christmas and put a strategy in place to switch them from a one-off purchaser to a loyal convert.
| Related reading: Ecommerce Abandoned Cart Recovery [3 Email Templates]
Control Your Inventory
It goes without saying that having the right amount of stock and a tight Inventory Management system is especially vital at this time of year – too little stock and you won’t be able to fulfill orders, too much and you’ll be trying to get rid of it well into the new year. Use your sales trends and reports such as Demand Forecasting and Low Stock Reports to anticipate requirements. And don’t forget to allow for issues that may pop up with your suppliers – an earlier than usual restock order might just save the day. You should also consider increasing your par levels on popular products. And above all else, continually monitor your orders and stock.
Prepare your Technology
Any small issues you experience now will become huge problems over the silly season so ensure your technical infrastructure is able to cope with the added demand - paying particular attention to bandwidth and transaction volumes (although Neto merchants needn’t worry – we’ve got you covered). It also might be time to consider back-up payment options and gateways, as a fall back for your current payment methods.
Buy Now Pay Later
Speaking of payments… if you haven’t yet jumped on the Buy Now Pay Later wagon, it’s probably time! Transactions increased by over 147% in 2017 and while it still only accounts for about 3.7% of total transactions and nearly 8% of online transactions, your customers will be looking for it – especially over the Christmas period when they’re watching their dollars.
Make Gifting Easy
There are some really great ways to make the purchase journey easy for your customer and if your website needs a review then now is as good a time as any. What’s good for your customer, is also good for your sales. For a start, check out our article on Improving your Ecommerce Conversions at Checkout.
But there’s more you can do, which is especially relevant at Christmas. Gift Cards are a sure winner for any recipient who already loves your brand so be sure to include this option in your marketing strategy and add a tile to your homepage for gift purchasers who may not know you as well as their gift recipient. You could also consider adding gift wrapping and messaging to your purchase options.
TipNeto merchants can accept gift cards online as well as offline with Neto POS and easily offer the option for customers to add a personalized message to the card.
Policies, Procedures and Personnel
With business ramping up, you’ll want a tight set of processes to ensure your order fulfillments stays on track. Staff training is also paramount especially if you’re employing extra casuals over the busy period. It’s also a good idea to have a few additional staff available to take customer service calls. You’re also likely to experience more than your usual share of returns in the post Christmas period so be ready for it and also extend your usual return period until the end of January.
Are you ready to tackle the Silly Season? Now’s the time to put plans in place. To get you started Neto has created a host of Social Media graphics for your End of Year Sale and Christmas campaigns as well as a content calendar template to schedule them ahead of time, so download your Social Media Kit today.