How retailers can prepare for Christmas 2021

With only four months left to go until Christmas Day (yikes!) many retailers are already planning their festive season offerings. In fact, for retailers, Christmas is a day a year in the making. Making the most of this time of the year can be lucrative when done right, so how prepared are you?

Last year Brits spent £24.2 billion on gifts alone. Research shows that over half of Brits like to start Christmas shopping from October and 23% start by September. If your store is not ready for this early influx, it’s vital year-end revenue lost.

We’ve shared our helpful hints and tips on how you can equip yourself to take advantage of Father Christmas’ upcoming visit.


Look to Christmas past before the future


When Christmas planning as an eCommerce retailer you need to pick up on trends before they fade away. This is why analytics from past years can unlock the path forward. Did you see an uplift in trade from October? Did certain products suddenly fly out of the warehouse? Without first understanding your customers’ behaviour you cannot effectively expect to meet their expectations.

You should look at rival businesses too. Remember just a few years back when suddenly fidget spinners were available in seemingly every single 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 be quick to respond to future trends before they peak.


Get personal


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.

Retailers operating in the eCommerce world 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.

from a store with personalisation, while 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.


Prepare your supply chain


In eCommerce the 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. As you plan for Christmas the limits of your staff, warehousing, and delivery network may all need to be reviewed.

For example, do you give estimated delivery dates on orders? These may need to be extended a day or two to allow for delays in the postal system. It is 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.

Other than using customer feedback the best way to test your system is to experience it through the eyes of a buyer. Order an item from your store and see the process in action, then 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 as 92% of customers will return to a store even after returning an item if the process is easy.


Get your Christmas marketing ready to launch


Coca-Cola’s red truck, John Lewis’ annual advert, Sainsbury’s World War One football match… Christmas marketing stays with buyers far longer than the festive season. If you haven’t yet started planning your seasonal marketing ideas, then here are a few things to consider.

Start by examining market trends and your competitors. There is 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 upon. Once you identify a handful of options check out the competition, what are they focusing on this year? Can you take advantage of their work?

If you do not already use website analytics to help shape your marketing, then Google can also help with their Analytics system. The base system is free to use and helps uncover how visitors journey through your store, which pages are most popular, and where your visitors are located which can all help shift your festive marketing plans.


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 to your option of payment methods now can help transform potential buyers into loyal customers.

Christmas remains the golden season for retailers, customers expect to spend more during this period than any other and it is up to eCommerce retailers to take advantage of that. Although autumn is just around the corner and there are four months until the big day, the earlier you prepare for the festive rush the better equipped you are to cope.

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