Preparing Your Ecommerce Store For The 2021 Holiday Season
Melissa IN Team | |
To maximize your profits, your energy needs to be focused on three goals; preparing your backend logistics, promoting your brand and giving customers the best experience.
As the holiday season approaches, retailers start thinking of new ways to ensure that their products find a spot in gift baskets and stockings. A holiday-centric product line is probably already in production and now is the time to start thinking about marketing and outreach strategies. The online sale boom usually begins around November. In 2019, online purchases accounted for only 13.6% of sales. In 2021, this number is expected to reach 19.5%.
Preparing Backend Logistics
A customer doesn’t care whether his order is one of 10 received in a day or 100. All he cares about is when the product will be delivered. Thus, e-tailers need to approximate the additional volume of orders expected and prepare for the same. No customer is going to be happy if their order is delivered after the festivities are over.
A few tips to help you out:
- Stock the Warehouses
Take a look at the sales numbers for last year and plan your inventory so you don’t suddenly run out of a hot seller. If needed, look into renting out additional warehousing space to stock the extra inventory.
- Plan Shipping Options
To maximize your profits, you could charge an additional shipping fee during this season for overnight delivery or make shipping free above a certain cart value. At the same time, be aware that shipping fees may be a deterrent to a certain section of shoppers. Hence, provide options. Pick-up from a centralized spot may be free while doorstep delivery could be chargeable.
Promote your Brand
There are anywhere between 12 and 24 million eCommerce websites. This means, merely having a website isn’t enough, you need to market your brand aggressively. Advertising costs tend to increase during the festive season so you need to think beyond pay-per-click campaigns. You can leverage your mailing list and social media audience to market your holiday offers.
- Segment your audience and personalize emailers
Emails are the best way to reach customers but they are effective only when the content is relevant. To deliver tailored messages, segment your audience according to demographics, shopping history, etc. for example, a certain part of town may be favored by bachelors while the area around a good school is likely to be favored by families. When you break up your mailing list by addresses, you know which list will respond better to a promotion on children’s toys and who will shop for the bar set you’re promoting. Of course, to succeed at this, you must have a reliable customer database.
- Create a sense of urgency
Sometimes, customers need a little nudge to complete a sale. They may have been eyeing a product and have kept it in their cart but stopped there. Induce a sense of urgency and use the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) to your advantage here. A countdown to when a discount on the product ends is a great way to push the customer to complete the sale. Similarly, you could market the product as a limited edition.
- Reward subscribers and followers
The festive season is a great time to make your existing audience feel special. Giving subscribers a preview of the festive collection and a chance to book their orders before anyone else is a good idea. You can also offer special coupons and subscriber-only offers.
- Activate your social media pages
The more engagement you have with social media followers, the higher your sales are likely to be. Plan exclusive content for social media to push people to interact with the brand. Contests are a popular way to boost your social media audience and push them to interact with the brand. It also gives you a lot of user-generated content to market your brand.
Optimize Customer Experience
The main reason people shop online is convenience. If the experience isn’t pleasant, customers aren’t likely to shop from your website again irrespective of your offers. Thus, you need to create a frictionless experience.
- Keep your website optimized for mobile shoppers
A growing number of shoppers are preferring to shop from mobile phones rather than a laptop. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. The pages should load quickly. All the information should be clearly visible and navigational buttons should be intuitive.
- Simplify the checkout process
One of the reasons people often abandon carts is because of a complex checkout process. Audit your checkout steps to identify stages that can be simplified. Keep all forms short and ask for only necessary information. Don’t ask for the same details twice. Auto-complete forms for addresses simplify the customer’s experience and minimize the risk of poor quality data entering your database.
- Provide inter-device consistency
Organize your data such that irrespective of whether the customer signs in to a website on a laptop or a tab or through an app, they get the same experience. If they add products to their cart on the app, they should be able to complete the check-out process from the website without any additional steps. To provide such an experience, you will need to ensure that the customer details held in the database are unique and each customer has a single record.
The Bottom Line
The holiday season has the potential for massive profits. Whether you’re looking at preparing your inventory, marketing holiday offers or improving your customer’s experience, it all comes down to the quality of data you’re working with. For example, correct addresses are required for emailer campaigns segmentation as are they required for shipping cost calculations. Promoting boy’s clothing to a customer who purchased a girl’s dress isn’t likely to be effective.
So, as the first step to preparing for the holiday season, run your data through data-cleansing software. Standardize the information you hold and deduplicate files. This way, your data will be more reliable and actionable. It’s a simple step that can help you achieve your profit goals for the season.