– Many retailers plan for Christmas a year in advance – but it’s never too late to start
– Consumers start Christmas shopping months ahead, so retailers need to get ready for early influx
– DivideBuy suggests examining previous year’s trends, offering bundles and personalisation, and prepping your Christmas marketing
– Other tips include preparing your supply chain for the busy season, and offering multiple payment options
With summer almost out of the way, it’s just a matter of time before the question arises: how many shopping days till Christmas?
Whether it’s creating Christmas marketing campaign ideas, or researching the products set to fly off the shelves, there’s plenty retailers can do to prep in advance for the so-called Golden Quarter. In fact, for many business owners, Christmas preperations are an entire year in the making.
When done right, the festive period can be the most lucrative time of year – so how ready are you?
In 2020 and 2021, UK shoppers spent around £25 billion on Christmas gifts – but not necessarily in December. According to a recent survey, over half of Brits like to start Christmas shopping from October, and 23% start by September. If you want to take advantage of these early birds for a major year-end revenue boost, you need to prep your online store.
In this article, we’ll shared practical insights on how you can equip yourself to make the most of this year’s festive season.
1. Christmas trends 2022: Look to the ghosts of Christmas past
When planning for Christmas as an eCommerce retailer, you need to pick up on trends before they fade away. To do this, you can use analytics from previous years to unlock a path forward. Think about it. Did you see an uplift in trade from October? Did certain products suddenly fly out of the warehouse? If you want to effectively meet your customers’ expectations, you first need to understand their habits and behaviours.
Don’t forget to look at rival businesses as well. Remember just a few years back, when suddenly fidget spinners were available in seemingly every location? A select few businesses caught onto the trend quickly and sold thousands before their appeal spread. While the products you stock may be of higher value than a plastic spinner, it’s wise to keep an eye on market trends and product availability – so you can respond quickly to future trends before they peak.
2. Get personal – and bundle up
How much time do you spend on personalisation?
A mammoth 80% of customers now expect personalised touches from retailers. This could be anything from targeted product suggestions, tailored offers, adaptive content or omnichannel experiences.
eCommerce retailers can take full advantage of these factors for Christmas, by learning and serving customers with gifts, decorations, or food items based on their familiarity with each individual.
Doing this is great for sales – especially when it comes to word of mouth. Research shows that 77% of customers say they have recommended or paid more for a product from a store with personal experiences – so a tailored approach is something you should definitely consider in your marketing strategy.
If applicable, consider designing special Christmas bundles. These should be relevant to the user, with research done on trends and niches for the coming festive season, as well as the performance of products and categories from previous years.
3. Prepare your supply chain
In the world of eCommerce, a supply chain is the lifeblood of your business.
As delivery channels get busier towards the end of the year and orders start piling up, your supply chain can easily start to develop issues if you haven’t prepared. When planning for Christmas, make sure to review the limits of your staff, warehousing, and delivery network.
For example: do you give estimated delivery dates on orders? These might need to be extended a day or two to allow for delays in the postal system. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver. Customers will be ecstatic if an order arrives two days ahead of the expected date, but annoyed and unlikely to return should it arrive after the promised day – especially where Christmas is concerned.
92% of customers will return to a store even after returning an item if the process is easy – so it’s worth testing your system from a buyer’s point of view. Order an item from your store and see the process in action. When it arrives, return it via your standard procedure to ensure everything works as it should. Reports show up to 30% of online orders are returned, compared to just 8.8% in brick-and-mortar stores, so testing both delivery and returns is a worthwhile endeavour when reviewing your supply chain.
4. Get your Christmas marketing ready to launch
Coca-Cola’s red truck, John Lewis’ advert, Sainsbury’s World War One football match – iconic Christmas marketing stays with buyers far longer than the festive season.
If you haven’t yet started planning your seasonal marketing ideas, here are a few things to consider.
Start by examining market trends and your competitors. There’s no use putting money into Christmas marketing for products not of interest to your potential customer base. Using free tools like Google Trends can help uncover baseline trends to build on. Once you identify a handful of options, check out the competition. What are they focusing on this year? Can you take advantage of anything?
If you’re not already using website analytics to help shape your marketing, then Google’s Analytics system is a great place to begin. This free tool can show you how visitors journey through your store, which pages are most popular, and where your visitors are located – all of which can help outline your festive marketing plans.
5. Boost your Christmas customer service
Your site is likely to experience extra traffic over the festive season. While this sounds great in theory, if you want to convert those browers into buyers, you need to do some extra prep. Why not introduce a ‘live chat’ customer service option? These are plugins which use initial automated messages to guide customers to right member of your team.
Need a simpler solution? A more cost-effective way of doing this is putting together FAQs for customers – particularly for products or services that are more complex. Once the FAQs are live on your website, be sure to share them across your social media channels for maximum visibility.
6. Offer multiple payment options
Research from the European Payments Council suggests up to 50% of customers will abandon their cart if their preferred payment option is not available. In a world where eWallets and services such as Apple Pay and PayPal are as common as traditional credit or debit cards, people now expect the choice.
Christmas can be an expensive time of year, so for savvy shoppers who want to spread the cost of Christmas, interest free credit is a great additional payment option. There’s no interest or other costs to pay, and customers can choose a payment schedule to suit their budget.
Integrating the DivideBuy interest free credit facility into your eCommerce store is quick and easy, with most stores up and running in just days. Adding this to your option of payment methods now will help transform potential buyers into loyal customers of the future.
To find out more, visit our Sell with DivideBuy page.