The last trimester of the year will undoubtedly be, yet again, the best in terms of sales for commerce and, with Coronavirus yet not contained, especially for online businesses. Most top 1000 companies started preparing for the holiday season from July and August, but there is still time yet to tackle the challenges that come with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and, of course, the Christmas-New Year Eve interval.
The holiday season is “make or break” for plenty of ecommerce businesses; Q4 sometimes doubles the sales on all year, or even more. Let’s first take a look at the calendar of 2020 holidays – these are the dates you need to highlight in red on your calendar:
2020 Shipping Deadlines for Christmas
Here are a few quick tips before we go into more detail on some of the most lucrative holidays for ecommerce.
Prepare your site and make the necessary changes – now
If you’re aware you need to make site changes and improvements on UI/UX, don’t postpone it. NOW it’s time to do it. One of the best methods to check out if there are changes to be made is using a Visitor Replays app, like to one from VITALS. In a nutshell, you can “spy” (real-time or recorded) on your clients’ every move on your site and then make the necessary adjustments to your store.
Test your website load speed
You absolutely need your site to be as speedy and stable as possible – any second a client waits is a missed opportunity. Check more on the importance of having a fast store and what you can do to improve upon it in this handy article.
Know your top sellers
By now you probably have a good idea of what sells and whatnot, which products are the most popular, and which are less so. What you need to do for the upcoming 2020 holidays is to push forward even better the ones that sell the most and stay up to date with your clients’ habits. You need to make sure you have enough inventory and/or talk with your providers in order to be 100% sure they will be able to cover you for the holiday season.
Upsell and cross-sell effectively
It is THE best time of the year to upsell and cross-sell in your store. Many customers will be happy to get as much as possible out of their shopping experience, get discounts, and buy more, in as few transactions as possible. Don’t underestimate the power of impulsive buying as well.
You should definitely add the option to purchase related products on the product pages and during the checkout process to entice shoppers.
5. Communicate with your customers
The worst thing that could happen during this season is for the purchases to arrive AFTER the holidays. Be very proactive and straightforward about their shipping options, so that their orders will reach them in time. Consider sending eMails with this subject in mind, posting on the site the shipping deadlines. You should also push smart(er) newsletters with the hot products, promotions, and such.
6. Provide real-time tracking for the packages
Holiday shoppers want extra assurance that their packages will arrive on time, and intact. You’ll not only give them peace of mind, but it’ll make life easier for you as well, not having to answer plenty of questions from concerned clients. You could add a small gift inside, as well – after all, it’s holiday time!
7. Don’t forget about security!
This is something plenty of ecommerce owners let aside, even if cyber attacks have exponentially increased in the last decade or so. More people shopping equals, unfortunately, more opportunities for cybercriminals to hack into your store or your account, stealing either customer information or even money from you.
So it’s time to really boost your site’s security and address potential vulnerabilities. Make sure your site is SSL secured with encryption, safely destroy any unnecessary data, and review your disaster plan. You don’t want your site to be hacked right on Black Friday, do you?
Tips for Halloween
Recent Sales and the Smart Bar apps in VITALS are already prepared for Halloween! You just need to change the theme in your store’s interface, and that’s it! Try it now and celebrate it together with your clients.
- Pop-ups, Trust Badges, and Cookies Bar can be recolored easily. Try the traditional Orange Halloween color, for example. You can personalize the Wheel of Fortune and treat customers with awesome promotions! No trick in this treat!
- You might want to check your Bundles and perhaps build some new ones, in line with Halloween. It may also prove to be a good idea to offer some freebies, items people can give to their friends, family members, colleagues as Halloween gifts. Use VITALS’s personalized Pop-up tool to advertise the gift!
- Take advantage of Upselling & Cross-Selling, make your customers buy more at once. The rule with Upselling and Cross-Selling is relevance. By offering more relevant products to your customers, and selling them at a lower price than what they would be sold individually, it encourages customers to buy in a bundle. If you’re looking for quick wins, then Upselling and Cross-Selling are always the best sales techniques that you should seriously consider.
Drive traffic to your store by advertising your Halloween offers on Social Media and/or Google. Don’t forget to promote your “Halloween treats” by email marketing.
Preparing for Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Research strongly indicates that the effects of lockdown will permanently change consumer behavior. Scurri has recognized a 74% growth in online shopping since Covid-19 began. Moreover, 45% of UK adults have received more parcel deliveries during coronavirus lockdown than before.
Two-thirds of adults say they will continue both current levels of spend (66%) and the frequency (68%) they shop online post-lockdown, while 26% said they will increase their digital spend after restrictions are lifted.
Be prepared to scale – while online sales have skyrocketed for many retailers, many of them also weren’t prepared to handle the increase in traffic and sales. It is the all known problem, but unfortunately, still few ecommerce businesses take this seriously.
The ability to scale is now critical every day, not just on Black Friday or Christmas Eve. To thrive in today’s retail climate, retailers must invest in scalable technologies to help them prepare for unpredictable spikes in online business. This strategy likely includes upgrading to a flexible ecommerce platform that’s ready to scale with fast-changing traffic demands. And retailers new to selling online (or selling at a much higher rate than before) must also consider the security implications of shifting to online sales. Malware blockers, firewalls, and security certificates are critical to protecting customer data.
- Talk to your couriers – communicate with your preferred couriers prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to double-check on their schedule. You should also tell them the estimates of parcels you need collecting and also about collecting on the Saturday and Sunday of the Black Friday weekend.
- Take the extra step and make your customers feel extra special. Segment your list in advance and target your customers based on products your customers have already bought and the value of the items they’ve bought. Give the VIPs of your store special care, as they’re THE most important recurrent clients. You should also plant the seed of discounts a week before Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and have a couple of offers then, in order to attract attention.
- Take your time to rereREcheck your site. Are the products in the order you desire? Is the speed good? Is the “add to cart” button working great? Take your time and triple check everything before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Encourage your clients to sign up for the newsletter. Entice your clients with price-driven hooks in order to sign up for the newsletter. The ones that do will receive the discounts before those who do not sign up, offering them a foothold. Building a ‘discount’ landing page that links to all products that will feature in the retailers’ Black Friday promotion, and adding a ‘get a price alert’ CTA (call-to-action) for each product could be key. Depending on the systems they use, they can also do this via SMS and look at push notifications (most effective if they have an app).
Tips for Thanksgiving
What Amazon cheekily calls the “Turkey 5,” we know traditionally as the long Thanksgiving weekend, stretching from Thursday to Monday. But for ecommerce owners, those five days are some of the highest-selling all year. Not surprisingly, online sales during Thanksgiving weekend grew 19.2% from 2017 to 2018, with a total of $22.55 billion in 2018.
How should you prepare for Thanksgiving, as an ecommerce business?
- Target the wealthy ones. A 2017 report highlights the items clients prefer to buy during Thanksgiving. https://blog.fieldagent.net/quick-facts-on-black-friday-2017-top-product-categories-survey-mobile-research Check out the list and, if you’re already selling these, you’re in luck. People are also looking to buy based on promotions to regular expensive items.
- Shoppers change HOW they buy. Another study, this time from Finder, highlights that men budget nearly TWICE as much as women during the Thanksgiving weekend. 77% of men plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend compared to 71% of women. Generation X are the highest spenders, with an average of $592.83. Millennials come in next with $560.17, while Baby Boomers are nearly half that with $247.92. Target each generation appropriately with these tips.
- Don’t forget to optimize for mobile. Mobile shopping now makes about 40% of all sales during Thanksgiving, but also Black Friday or Cyber Monday. On Shopify, mobile order even took the majority, making up 66% of all orders during Thanksgiving weekend. So optimizing your store for mobile is good advice all year round, but concentrate specifically for Q4, as otherwise you’re going to miss on great opportunities.
Tips for Christmas – New Year’s Eve
Since at least 2017, the traffic on ecommerce stores increased even during after Christmas and until after New Year’s Eve, and, all things considered, 2020 won’t be different. Analysts attribute the increase to a number of factors, including incentives from retailers, promotions, and even the cold weather, which encouraged more people to shop from indoors. Factor in the unfortunate events from 2020, and you have the perfect setting for a thriving New Year’s Eve business.
- The first rule – don’t relax after the Christmas boom in sales! You should keep the momentum and come up with new discounts and marketing campaigns to make your customers come back to your store and order more. The holidays between Christmas and New Year’s Eve offer enormous sales potential. People spend time with their beloved ones, are happy, and have plenty of time. It’s not uncommon for a family to run out of topics to talk about at some point. Consequently, the usage of smartphones rises. Since coupons and money are given away as gifts to a large extent for Christmas, it is your chance to boost your numbers for the year one last time. You could offer “Santa didn’t bring what I wanted” discounts for example. By doing that you can stand out from the crowd and make more sales on the last days before New Year’s Eve.
- Package accordingly. With the rise of Facebook, Instagram, and more recently Tik-Tok, an important factor to weigh in is the packaging of a product. The unpacking of products has become an important part of the buying experience in e-commerce. Online retailers know how important influencers and micro-influencers have become. A special packaging contributes to a good first impression and motivates many people to share photos online – in other words, they promote your product for free. Take good care of the packaging on Christmas time and up until New Year’s Eve, as people will be more prone to remember you on these joyous occasions.
- Plan for a plan B or even plan C. This is a rather turbulent period in the life of an ecommercer. While others enjoy themselves, you need to be prepared for the worst. Mistakes can and WILL happen, rarely everything goes as expected during Christmas – New Year Eve. In such cases, be prepared with a plan B and plan C, contingency plans. These will prevent your customers to celebrate Christmas or New Year Eve without presents or that expensive bottle of champagne. If, for example, there is a problem with a certain courier that won’t deliver as promised, be ready to forward your packages to a different provider.
- Plenty of first-time shoppers. The bulk of your Christmas-New Years Eve shoppers will be first time shoppers. Your main purpose should be to make them loyal and long term clients. Although every online retailer has many other topics in mind during this time, they should keep in mind that the first sale is both – the first and often the last chance to turn a new customer into a repeat customer. An attractive way to motivate consumers to buy again is, for example, the supplement of vouchers and discounts for purchase in February. That is when the Christmas and after-Christmas season is over and the returns have decreased. This voucher could also be redeemable in the summer slump. Check out these tips for increasing the customer retention rate.
- People buy things they are not familiar with. During the Christmas holiday, people tend to buy items they are not quite familiar with – watches, jewelry, collectibles, in short things that can be offered as presents to the loved ones. It is paramount to inspire trust in your clients and provide great product descriptions with superb photos. There is a lot of uncertainty in the air. Check this article on how to build trust with your clients. More than this, respond as quickly as possible, always friendly and with a precise solution to any negative comments. For many customers, money-back guarantees offer maximum security. If you are convinced of your product (which hopefully is the case), you can also increase confidence with a money-back guarantee in case of dissatisfaction.