Without a doubt, the holiday season is the highlight of most retailers’ year. With sales and revenue peaking in the two-month period of November and December, the pace is frenetic and every single seller hopes to maximize their share of the customer’s wallet.
By the end of December 2015, data from MasterCard showed a 20% jump in online retail sales between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, higher than the 14% growth predicted by ComScore. All signs point to an equally brisk shopping season ahead.
So how do you rise above the loud cacophony of sellers shouting their best deals and offers to shoppers all through the holidays? Here are a few thoughts.
1. Promote the Right Products
It’s not enough to simply promote your brand among your target audience. What you really want is to push the products that shoppers are already looking for, right under their noses.
Dig into historical data and discover what product categories did well for you this time of the year, last year. Though every year holds its own little surprises, last year’s data is a great starting point to understand what products have the potential to bring in those extra bucks this year.
Another must-do is to discover what products sold well online for other retailers, in your category. Some keyword research will come in handy here to find what products users searched for most during the holidays last year, and most keyword planning tools can help with that. If you find that you don’t carry those critical items that make all the difference for holiday shoppers, growing your product assortment is just a click away.
2. Unleash those Promotions
As we discussed earlier, this time of the year is when every retailer and brand under the sun gets busy promoting its products to buyers. While outshouting them may be an expensive proposition for most sellers, nothing stops you from outsmarting them.
Uncommon Goods trod on the path less taken during the holidays in 2013. With an interactive email design that stacked shopping dates against expected shipping times, it did a great job of building in urgency into holiday shopping without sounding pushy.
This is the perfect time to lure those shoppers in with discounts, coupons and rebates. A holiday survey by Deloitte found that 20% of shoppers wait for holiday promotions to buy big ticket items.
Another interesting promotion that can help you grow holiday revenues is to create bundled offers. Bundling related products together and offering discounts on product bundles instead of individual products tempts users to spend more, pushing up your average order value (AOV).
3. Target the Right Users
. And for good reason too. Retargeting ads reach out to users who have in one form or another expressed interest in your brand, products or even product category. This could be in the form of visiting your website, looking up specific keywords on search engines, clicking on any of your content assets, signing up for a lead form and more.
With how competitive it gets during the holiday season, you are better off trying to convert a user who’s already familiar with your brand than capturing the eye of a complete newbie.
Data show that retargeted ads can help close the sale with 26% of shoppers who originally abandoned their shopping carts. While you retarget your shoppers with promotional messages, make sure you include social retargeting into the mix. Social retargeting can lead to over double the conversions as non-social retargeting campaigns according to figures from AdRoll.
4. Offer Free Shipping
The glut of free shipping promos over the last few years means that users have come to expect free shipping by default and reward sellers that comply with their shopping dollars. This year, Best Buy has already begun their free shipping campaign for the holiday season, with smaller retailers expected to follow suit. Entering into special contracts with your logistics partners for the holiday season in advance can help you lower the cost of shipping and absorb it into your pricing structure.
If fully free shipping is beyond your reach this season, at least offer users the option of enjoying free shipping above a certain minimum purchase value. A study by ComScore and UPS showed that 60% of shoppers added items to their cart to qualify for free shipping offers tied to minimum purchase amounts
5. Offer Expedited Deliveries
Who among us hasn’t experienced the panic of last minute holiday shopping? While most online retailers and brands will offer attractive pricing on holiday goods till the last minute, delivering them before the holidays are gone is a different thing altogether. Delayed deliveries are, in fact, the biggest grouse for holiday shoppers online, forcing many to go to brick and mortar stores for immediate gratification.
Expediting deliveries is an option, though typically an expensive one. With the right tools, it actually is possible to strike a balance between on-time deliveries and managing costs. Check out the story of a billion-dollar retailer that actually saved millions of dollars in holiday deliveries by using smart shipping optimization algorithms. CommerceHub’s own delivery solutions offer retailers and brands the opportunity to crunch delivery times by half in many cases. The most efficient shipping method is arrived at using a combination of smart routing, close tracking and 3PL warehousing services.
6. Rev Up Those Website Engines
Ask any e-commerce website and they’ll tell you how important site speed is to their bottom line numbers. A delay of just 1 second in page load time can reduce your conversion rate by 7%.
Site speed is of special concern during the holiday season as website outages are a common occurrence during this period. In 2014, VentureBeat reported that e-commerce pages were up to 57% slower than they were in 2013 during the Black Friday sale period. A combination of increased web traffic and larger amounts of data per page, thanks to multiple offers and promotions, is often to blame for the slowdowns.
Avoid both embarrassment and lost revenues by adding content delivery networks (CDNs) that can reduce the load on your existing servers during the holiday season. Taking down all plugins that you don’t use on your website, resizing product images to help them load faster and using a caching service to avoid forcing browsers to load your page each time from scratch are all key steps towards a quicker website.
7. Smart Upsells and Cross-Sells
Upsells and cross-sells are key when your aim is to increase basket size and average order values. With people shopping for friends and family during the holiday season, the potential for multiple items being bought in one shopping session goes up exponentially.
Leverage data scientifically by matching items in the cart with complementary items you can suggest. Browsing history, user flows across different product categories and past purchase behavior are important clues for dynamic product merchandizing that lead to increased conversions. Besides dynamically serving up personalized cross-sell suggestions on your website, you could also follow up with users through personalized emails that carry cross-sell or upsell recommendations.
8. Plan for Temp Staff
Busy as the holiday season can be, you want to make sure that none of your customers get neglected in the rush. Responding to messages on social media, reducing wait times on your customer care numbers and ensuring on-time processing, packing and shipping of orders are all labor-intensive processes which must be given center stage come holiday season.
Getting temporary workers in your customer care and logistics teams makes a world of difference to improving fulfillment timelines and, by extension, customer satisfaction. Leading retailers get hundreds of temporary workers on board during the last quarter of each year. Retail leaders like Amazon typically hire thousands of temporary workers to tide them over the rush of holiday orders. Every
Deloitte’s 2015 Annual Holiday Survey shows that 75% of shoppers plan to spend more during the holiday season in 2015 than in 2014. Your target audience intends to shop till they drop this season. The question is, what are you doing about it?