This article is brought to you by Amanda Zeirzer, Baby Presents
The countdown to the silly season has begun, with Christmas well and truly on our doorstep. If you haven't incorporated Christmas into your business planning, it is not too late. Take a deep breath and a few minutes to read our tips on how you can turn the festive season into a profitable one and get yourself a slice of the festive sales pie.
1. Festive Marketing Plan. Savvy shoppers like to be organised and not everyone will wait until the week before Christmas to shop, so you should roll out your marketing plans by November. Your business needs to become top of mind for shoppers when they go to finalise their Christmas shopping lists. Consider doing something themed like the 12 days of Christmas. Be creative and create something memorable for the aptly named silly season.
2. Social Media: are you connected? It's called social for a reason! Engage with your audience and give them a reason to like and share your content. Your customers don't just want to be shown new products each post in the lead up to the festive period. Consider sharing festive inspired ideas such as Christmas gift wrapping suggestions, creative table setting or Christmas meal ideas. You could even change your profile designs to a Christmas theme.
3. Big Spend Days. Use research to understand consumer behaviour. Traditionally retailers see a surge in spending patterns on the second last weekend before Christmas Day. This is very common for online retailers as it still allows adequate time for shipment of their order to arrive in time for the big day. Did you know that Sunday 8 December 2013 was the busiest online shopping day for Australian retailers? Make the most of these trends by being prepared and ready to strike.
4. Postage Costs. You don't need to reduce your profit margins by offering free shipping to all customers. Set a qualifying spend that must be reached before free shipping will be offered. Make sure to advertise this in your social media outlets and on your home page to increase total spend. As an added bonus to encourage sales, consider offering next day delivery (even if it's just for the Chrissy period).
5. Delivery Times. Know the estimated delivery duration from your business to consumers around Australia and factor in extra time for the busy season. Communicate this clearly on your homepage along with a final cut-off date to guarantee Christmas delivery. This will ensure your customers are not disappointed and can be turned into repeat customers in the new year.
6. Hot Products. What are your best selling items? Ensure to stock adequate levels of these products and feature them on your home page and in social media. Consider bundling them up with a slow moving item or something that has excessive stock for a small increase. Consumers love to feel like they are getting value!
7. Package deals. Increase your spend per customer by offering a great deal on several products if purchased in the same transaction or pre bundle products into different price points. Meet the needs of consumers who may not know what products to select but instead have a budget in mind to spend per gift. This is a win win for both parties as it will take the guess work out of what to buy and increase your sales. Suggest categories for your buyers to make life easy e.g. "gifts for dad", "baby presents" etc. as most people will be buying for others during this period.
8. Know your cost price of items. Items with a good mark-up are worth advertising at this time of the year as they will yield a good return. Promote them on your home page or add them to a "you may also like' suggestion once they have added something to their cart.
9. Advertise a Pre Order Sale of a product. Advertise a "hot" item that it likely to sell well and is able to be sourced within a 2-3 week time frame from a reliable supplier. This will allow you to gain an understanding of the quantity required along with securing the cash flow to place such a large order. This would need to be advertised via your mailing list and call to action on social media.
10. Value Add Service. Offer gift wrapping for a small charge on check out. This small gesture could be well received by time poor shoppers and will assist in increasing your bottom line. Christmas is a crazy time for most. You will be remembered if you make life easier for your customers.
11. Post-Christmas Sales Don't forget about Boxing Day Sales opportunities. Ensure you are a part of this crazy tradition especially if you are an online retailer as you can still be sleeping off the turkey and pudding whilst sales are coming in for you to post a few days later.
With a little effort you can turn what can be a very stressful time of the year into a profitable one for your business. If you can make life easier for your customers and make their online shopping experience a pleasant one, you will gain repeat customers and new ones via word of mouth. A great win for your business year-round! We wish everyone a great start to the Festive trading season followed by a well-deserved rest.
Amanda is mum to Amelia and Liam and owner of Baby Presents, an online store specialising in keepsake baby gifts and celebration gifts. The perfect selection of gifts for any special occasion.
Christmas image courtesy of Feelart / www.freedigitalphotos.net