It’s October already -- where are the months disappearing to? No doubt you’ve been busy focusing on your holiday season sales for the past few weeks. Let’s face it, Black Friday and Christmas will be rolling around the corner any day now. So, what does this mean for you?
According to Statista.com, retail ecommerce sales during November and December amounted to 53.3 billion US dollars during holiday season, up from 46.55 billion US dollars in 2013. That is a whopping 23.4 percent of the total US retail ecommerce revenue taken during the holiday season versus the whole of 2014!
Other than baffling you with statistics, the main purpose of pointing this out is to help demonstrate that the majority of retail sales are accumulated during the holiday season. Therefore, you’ve got to get going with your planning if you haven’t already!
Planning ahead is the key to increased sales, which is why we’ve put together some handy tips to get you ready for the fast-approaching holiday season.
First things first, what dates do you need to be prepared for?
Not only are there the official holidays to think about, you may also need to plan for a few smaller, non-official dates, including:
Green Monday - December 14th
Green Monday is the second Monday in December, and is usually the last day that standard class packages can be shipped in order to make it in time for Christmas. Your customers could be scrambling to pick up bargains on this day!
Free Shipping Day - December 18th
This is an annual celebration and encourages retailers to offer free shipping to their customers, with packages to arrive in time for Christmas. Key participators for this event are Amazon and Toys R Us; so why not join them?
Super Saturday - December 19th
Super Saturday is the last Saturday before Christmas, and customers often use this day for those last-minute gifts. Ensure you’re ahead of the pack by preparing for the mad rush this day brings.
Download your free calendar here with all the holiday season dates in 2015 you should be thinking about.
Now that you’ve got an idea about what dates you should be planning ahead for, take a look at our tips for best practices in the lead up to and during the holiday season.
1. Stock those Best Sellers
We’d recommend taking a look into your sales analysis reports from the previous holiday season and any new products you’ve added to your catalog since then. This will ensure you can see which products are your best sellers and which ones are maybe not as popular.
Keep focused on stocking those items that are the ‘best sellers’ to help keep your customers happy and your sales thriving. After all, you need to find out what your customers really want for Christmas.
2. Aim for excellent Customer Service
Here at Brightpearl, we’ll be scheduling extra staff to work during weekends throughout the holiday period; and it might be a good idea for you to do the same to help keep on top of those extra sales you should be expecting.
Not only will the extra staff help you keep ahead of the pack, but you could also win bonus points from your customers for your excellent customer service during what can be a stressful time for everyone.
With extra staff, your customers will wait less time to be served in-store, and wait less time for their online purchases to be delivered in time for Christmas. With all of this in mind, your customers will want to keep coming back to your store year after year!
3. Optimize your Website and Get Mobile
With many customers shopping online for gifts (and the number just keeps on growing each year), it’s crucial that your website is optimized in order to deal with this influx of site visits. Otherwise, your customers could leave your site and purchase from a competitor!
Not only is it website sales that are on the rise; but mobile sales are climbing each year with more and more apps being available to smart-phone users. You should ensure that your website can work successfully with mobile phones; and still be simple enough to use to keep those gift buyers searching for bargains.
If you’re unsure how best to optimize your website in these ways, we’d recommend getting in touch with one of our website services providers to ask them. You never know, they may be able to help you make some adjustments which could make a massive difference this holiday season.
4. Be Sociable
Ever heard of social media? Well, how about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? There you go...
Social media is a thriving industry, with latest stats recording 2.206 billion active users in 2015. Surely you want to get in on some of that social media action now?
When shopping online, customers are on the hunt for the perfect gifts and are hoping to answer questions such as “What do they want?”, “What should I buy?”
If you can encourage your happy shoppers to leave good reviews and ask them to share the reviews across their social media networks, then this could result in extra customers who you can also make into happy shoppers!
Plus, you can pay to advertise across social media sites like Facebook; and encourage users to “Like” your page. That way, you can help keep your customers and potential customers engaged by advertising new offers, and the top gifts they should be buying. Go on, be sociable!
5. Flexible Shipping & Returns
As we all know, with the holiday season comes the influx of customer returns as sadly; not all Christmas presents can be the perfect gift!
If you can be flexible in your shipping and returns process, then you can ensure your customers feel relaxed when ordering from you in the first place, knowing that (if needed), they can return unwanted gifts without any hassle. Not only that, but you will also then be running full circle by offering that excellent customer service we’ve already talked about.
There you have it. Those are our best practices to help get you geared up for the holidays. Let’s make 2015 the best year yet for your business and bring on the year of business growth in 2016!
For more great advice download ‘The Ultimate Retail Guide to the Holiday Season in 2015'. Also, if you have any other best practices or tips, please share them below, we'd love to hear them.