Many of us eagerly anticipate and look forward to the holidays. It’s a time for celebration, family, good food, and what we hope is just the right amount of snow. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we’re quickly coming into the 2020 holiday season. As a business owner, you may look forward to the holiday season in more ways than one, as sales typically increase and for many businesses, it’s the busiest time of the year. Retail businesses see close to twenty percent of their annual sales during the months of November and December, average holiday spending has been trending upward for the last ten years, and over 80% of holiday shopping is done by the end of November.
If you’re part of an e-commerce business, it’s clear that more and more people are doing their shopping online. Last year over 20% of holiday shopping was done online, and that number is sure to multiply given the circumstances of the 2020 season. So, what can you do as a business owner to better serve your customers, increase your sales, and make the season as free from stress as possible? We’re going to cover that in this blog.
1. MAXIMIZE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
We love working to better serve our customers, and this is a good area to start with when evaluating how to help an ecommerce business grow. Ensuring that your customers have the best user experience on your website helps rule out barriers that may be getting in between a person’s interest in your products and their ability to purchase them. A few elements to focus on include:
Site Speed & Infrastructure – is your website quick and responsive? Optimized for mobile? Can your hosting provider handle big bandwidth spikes due to high amounts of traffic? Is everything up to par security wise? These are questions we deal with everyday and we can help you answer them.
Third Party Integrations & Payment Options – many websites use various third party modules and services to provide product lists and provide payments. Are they up to date? Are you offering as many forms of payment as possible? Are your shipping rates and your return policy clear and transparent? Do your customers have to log-in or register? Have you made that process as simple as possible? These are all areas we specialize in and can help you with.
Site Search Optimization – many ecommerce sites have a built in search function, and when you offer a wide array of products, customers will use this to find what they’re looking for. It’s important to configure your site search with helpful search suggestions and common misspellings to help show customers the products they’re looking for quickly – even if they happen to make a typo.
It’s important to make sure these steps have been taken well in advance of the busiest parts of the year, and we recommend freezing any kind of major updates or changes to your website in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Once you’re sure your website is ready for the increase in traffic, you can focus on preparing for the holidays in other ways.
2. PLANNING AND PROMOTING YOUR HOLIDAY OFFERS
It’s well documented that the holidays drive some of the biggest sales numbers for online stores. Online Black Friday shopping sales hit 7.4 billion dollars last year – an all-time high. People are ready to spend because they know that they have a great potential to save money, as average savings on Black Friday specials are around 37%. With this in mind, you know that competing during these sales means coming up with aggressive promotions and offers of your own, and doing so in a strategic way. We specialize in segmentation, tailoring messages, and finding out what works for what crowds. A few of the things you can do to help plan and promote your offers are:
Dig into last year’s data and find out how low you can go, while still pricing in a way that will make all your effort worthwhile. If you’re an online retailer you can find where your strongest traffic came from and look to boost those relationships this year. This can come in the form of blogs and buying guides, social posts, and paid advertising. These are all areas we specialize in at Root & Roam Integrated Marketing Agency.
If you have an email marketing list or an active following on social media (or both), it’s imperative that you plan and schedule content that will help inform and guide your customers into making holidays purchases. Let your customers know what to expect and what to plan for, even if it’s telling them to keep an eye on their inbox and your pages for the soon to arrive specials! Creating a sense of urgency and taking advantage of FOMO (fear of missing out) can help sell to people that may otherwise miss out. This way when you start to ask for sales, they’ll be more likely to already have that perfect gift in mind.
Showcase your deals and products. This may be viewed as a no brainer – but get your best deals in front of people in as many ways as possible, from your website’s home page to your marketing pushes through email and social media. Surround your products with memorable design, from the digital work you put into your marketing to the packaging that makes your unboxing experience. Give your customers good reasons to tell their friends about their experience!
3. BE PREPARED FOR VOLUME
We’ve already discussed having your website ready for increased traffic and a higher volume of customers – but what about the rest of your business? Shipping and fulfillment will also be under pressure with higher order volumes, and having a plan in place to handle that will help ensure your holiday sales go off without a hitch.
Anticipate volume and hire accordingly. If you handle shipping and fulfillment in-house, you’re likely aware of the necessity of seasonal workers to help accommodate increases in demand. Getting this support in place is imperative and the sooner you can get it in place the better.
Consider a third-party logistics(3PL) provider for shipping and fulfilment, or if you work with a wholesaler you may consider what setting up a dropshipping relationship would cost. It’s different for every business and it’s up to you whether or not it’s right for you and your business. At a certain point of growth it can often make sense to offload shipping and fulfillment to someone with the infrastructure and expertise to handle it most efficiently.
Remember returns. Holiday buying sees higher return rates than any other time in the year – around 12% of all sales according to the National Retail Federation. Customers appreciate painless returns, and providing an easy return process is a good way to bolster long term customer loyalty. Many businesses are including return labels and using resealable mailers for gift purchases, and a short note or print out on how to make a return or even better an exchange can make your recipients (and your) life that much easier.
The holiday season is something to prepare for on many fronts, and it’s no different for business owners. With a bit of planning it can be just as successful as a highly anticipated Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham. Before we know it, we’ll be stepping into a new year and it’ll be time to analyze and find out what has worked best for us and where we can improve.
We hope that the points discussed in this post give you a clearer picture of how to ensure your businesses holiday season success, and you should know that Root & Roam Creative Studio is here to help you take your marketing and business growth to new levels. We have a diverse team of marketing professionals ready to tackle any area of analysis, content strategy, creation, and delivery. Happy Holidays!