There are many important events throughout the year, but for online retailers there is one season that is the most important of all: the holiday season. So exactly what events should online retailers be looking out for through November and December and, more importantly, how should they capitalize on them?
Thanksgiving – Thursday, 22nd November
Thanksgiving is now one of the most profitable days of the year, with around $2.9 billion being spent every year. This presents a fantastic opportunity for online retailers… but only for those that are able to stand out from the crowd. With an estimated 300,000 online retailers in the US, competition is fierce, and it’s time for ecommerce businesses to take action. At this time of year, it’s all about winning more customers.
Focus on boosting brand visibility as much as possible, through techniques such as multi channel selling and expert marketing (more specifically, consider marketing when you list your products, rather than having marketing be an afterthought). And don’t forget to look for ways to keep prospective customers engaged once they’ve found you, with great product content and flawless customer service.
Black Friday – Friday, 23rd November
A whopping 154 million people in the US make a purchase on Black Friday, making it the biggest shopping day in the seasonal online retail calendar. However, this is also a day when competition really is fiercest, with most retailers opting to lower prices for the event. Therefore, having the lowest price may not be something you’re able to guarantee on Black Friday, so focus on some of the other aspects that shoppers look for when choosing a retailer.
This could be simplicity, for example, such as making it easy for shoppers to buy from their preferred marketplace; or clarity in your product information, so that shoppers have everything they need to make a decision. It’s also worth ensuring your inventory management system is up to scratch, so you can be sure you have the most in-demand products in stock.
Cyber Monday – Monday, 26th November
Through the months of November and December, when we see major shopping events such as Cyber Monday, mobile is the preferred choice for buying online, with desktop largely falling out of favor. The reason? Limited time sales such as those offered on Cyber Monday create a sense of urgency, with shoppers looking to ‘buy now’ from wherever they are. At this time of year it’s important to ensure your product content is optimized so that it can be viewed by prospective customers using both mobile and desktop. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring desktop completely — while it may be less important than it once was, plenty of people do still access marketplaces in this way, and you don’t want to alienate that audience! Consistency is key, making sure product content is the same no matter where it’s viewed.
The Start of Christmas – September Onwards!
In case you haven’t noticed, Christmas is starting earlier and earlier each year. In fact, just 3% of Americans now leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute, with the majority preferring to start a lot earlier… some begin as early as August! While you don’t need to be adding a festive spin to your product content quite this early, it is important to cater to those prospective customers that are doing a little pre-Christmas research.
Take this as an opportunity to prime these customers so that when they do begin shopping in earnest, they know exactly where they’re heading. Now is the time to focus not on winning customers, but retaining them. There are many ways to do this, such as by streamlining your processes so you’re able to offer a seamless, stress-free experience with communication second to none.
The End of Christmas – Thursday, 20th December
The Christmas season can certainly be exhausting for online retailers (it’s well worth the effort, however!), but it’s important to know when to start cooling down. While Christmas may start early, it actually finishes pretty early too; much earlier than many online retailers think! Green Monday — the second Monday in December which often coincides with the first of the shipping cutoffs — is usually when we see a shift from buying online, to buying locally in store. At this time, step back a little, take some time to enjoy the magic of the festive season, and appreciate all your efforts and hard work. If you’ve prepared thoroughly in advance, and have focused on both winning customers and retaining them, then you should hopefully see your Christmas customers coming back for more in the New Year. Sales fall dramatically from December 20th onwards, and do not recover until the new year. Take a break!
The Holiday Season
Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas all combine to make up one huge event: the holiday season. So what does the holiday season really mean for online retailers? It means a massive opportunity to attract more, win more, and retain more. But it also means a significant increase in demand, which some online retailers may find hard to handle. This can be problematic, as an inability to manage increased sales can impact reputation. It’s essential to find some coping mechanisms that really work for your business. For many retailers, this involves shifting their workload, automating behind-the-scenes processes, and freeing up time for more customer-facing tasks. Order consolidation is also important, providing a single order management system, rather than a fragmented one.
Taking the Pressure Off
It’s no secret that November and December — the holiday season — can be some of the busiest for online retailers. There’s a need to ensure all processes are perfect if you’re going to be successful at attracting, winning, and retaining customers. It sounds tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.
At this time of year, online retailers that aren’t already using sales automation software should really start to look into this way of working. This software is key to relieving some of the pressure through the holiday season, taking over some of the more predictable tasks and minimizing the risk of human error. There’s no shame in delegating to software; if the tools are available, then make the most of them!
Take a look at how ChannelGrabber can help your business sail through the holiday season: