So, by this time in the holiday season, maybe you’re feeling a little bit….bloated. Whether that be from Thanksgiving turkey, or holiday promotions. And we get it. The holiday season is a marathon of creating email campaigns, designing pop-ups and banners, even exploring new app market partners. And hopefully, by now, you’ve done some light homework on things like getting Black Friday and Cyber Monday Ready.
But of course, it doesn’t take an expert in e-commerce to know that for many people, the holiday season is about one major event: Christmas. Or, well, Christmas and other family and culture-oriented December holidays, leading up to New Year’s. Christmas e-commerce sales are a vital part of maintaining a successful online store, so figuring out some Christmas-specific strategies will go a long way in making the overall season successful.
While Christmas is a gift-giving holiday, and New Year’s generally isn’t, we think both are important parts of a healthy e-commerce end of the year season, and want to do our best to bring you some up to the minute tips and tricks to ringing in the new year in the black.
Christmas: What You Need to Know
Okay, we take it that you already know something about Christmas and how it’s a great opportunity to run promotions and increase sales. But did you know that it’s also a great time to give your shop a spruce (no, not a spruce tree) to make sure that everything is ready for an influx of new customers? From your site’s design and product descriptions to the overall look and feel of the store (interested in a new theme? Check out some suggestions in our article all about it), a once over could mean a two-fold return on your invested time.
What percentage of holiday sales are online? Well, estimates suggest that sales went up 13.6% in 2019, and with the pandemic, this number is only expected to grow.
Also, it’s worth noting that, no matter where you are in the world, your holiday selling season strategy shouldn’t be about one holiday in particular. Even if you are zeroing on “Christmas” as your biggest money-making opportunity, keep in mind there is a wealth of culturally important gift-giving holidays in December, all around the world. And while many brands (especially those based in Europe or North America) use Christmas as shorthand to refer to gift-giving in December, depending on your target marketing, it might be worthwhile to also do some planning around holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Tet, etc, that people celebrate and exchange gifts for.
All around the world, the end of the year signals a time to be with family and friends, and to take stock of the year. Think about your shop’s role in spreading this festivity and cheer, whether or not it falls into traditional “Christmasy” fare.
Don’t be afraid to celebrate diversity and be multifaceted in your approach to the holiday season. As long as you do so in a way that honors the spirit of the individual holiday and feels authentic to you, it should feel the same to your potential customers.
In other words, no matter what you are selling this holiday season, there is a way to do so in a way that brings genuine joy to your customers, as well as revenue to your store.
Getting Your Shop Ready for Christmas Sales
As we said in our guide to getting ready for Thanksgiving, the key to a successful holiday selling season is a little bit of advanced planning. The same goes even more for the Christmas sales season, because you can bet that your customers will be thinking about their holiday plans before we hit December 1st. So, how does one get their shope revved up for some Christmas shopping?
The first answer lies in holiday storefront preparedness. Peek our whole article on 8 Things You Need to Do to Get Your Site Ready for the Holidays, or read on for some Christmas specific highlights:
Choose a seasonal item to highlight for Christmas (and another for New Years!): This could be a small item that would make a perfect stocking stuffer or “I’m stumped” gift, one with a great thematic tie-in to Christmas (say, a pine scented candle, or gingerbread scented soap), or just one of your best-sellers. Check your inventory stock for Best selling products: speaking of best sellers, an e-commerce store’s worst nightmare has got to be running out of popular goods at the height of the holiday shopping season (in this case, a couple of weeks before Christmas). Check your inventory now, and make sure you’ve prepared (or even overprepared) for a rush of December sales. Consider customer loyalty: the best customers are repeat ones. How is your shop appealing to customers who have already bought (and loved!) your wares? Think about a special coupon for repeat customers for the festive season to get them thinking about your shop again. Invest in advertising: which brings us to…
Christmas + Advertising = Your Success Strategy
Of course increasing holiday revenue no doubt involves amping up your promotional calendar, and giving your customers a fair share of great deals and specials to get them to come to you for the items on their holiday shopping list.
A key component of online selling during the Christmas holiday rush is through advertising these deals. And you’re in luck, because we already have a step-by-step guide detailing all the ins and outs of creating your best holiday advertising plan.
Read all about eCommerce advertising for the holidays, and remember to adapt your plan specifically to Christmas and its December counterparts.
Don’t Forget! Christmas Shipping Deadlines
As an e-commerce shop, you’re no stranger to planning for uncertainty, especially when it comes to shipping and delivery. But when it comes to getting prepped for Christmas sales, here are some important dates to keep in mind:
For USPS: to be safe, they suggest getting retail ground shipments in by December 15th and USPS Priority mail in by December 23rd.
For UPS Shipping: the range is almost the same, with the slowest mail (UPS ground) shipping out by December 15th and UPS Next Day Air Shipping by around December 23rd.
For FedEx: the ranges are more drastic, with their slowest services suggesting a shipping date of no later than December 9th.
In general, a good rule of thumb is, the earlier you ship, the better. Many merchants get results by doing a post-office drop every two or three days. US-based merchants might also take advantage of USPS pickups during their regular delivery times.
Bonus Tips for Christmas Preparedness
There isn’t much we haven’t covered as far as strategy is concerned in our all-encompassing Essential Guide to Holiday Promotions for E-Commerce Stores, but it might be helpful to highlight some ways in which Christmas (and related gift-giving) presents unique opportunities.
Tip 1: Don’t forget about decorations! Think snowflakes on banners and festive color-coordinated decorations. We know your e-commerce platform can’t offer fresh baked cookies to greet customers at the door, so rolling out a festive, virtual welcome mat is going to take a little bit of extra creativity.
Tip 2: We recommend getting extra prepared for the holiday season by adding some useful keywords to product descriptions. Anything from “great gift” to “stocking stuffer” might help guide your customers to the items that you think will work best for their holiday needs.
Looking for more? Read all about getting your product descriptions ready for your marketplace’s Christmas season, and other traffic generation ideas in our article specifically about all things holiday marketing.
New Year’s = New Opportunity
Of course the biggest gift-giving holidays are the ones that typically fall in mid-to-late-December. But, it’s important not to forget about New Year’s (both Eve and Day). Though New Year’s is rarely forgotten as the end-cap of the holiday season, often it’s ruled out as a revenue driver for e-commerce stores. We think that’s a big mistake!
Not only are their great “new year’s resolution” type promotions run during this week between Christmas and the start of the new year, but also, New Year’s celebrations are becoming an increasingly popular time to bring host gifts to parties, or to invest in some joyful take-out, party appetizers, etc, to kick the New Year off in a hearty way (we’re looking at you, restaurants!).
So, how to capitalize on the New Year’s crowd? Here, we present you with a couple of our best tips:
New messaging (New you)
Even if you’re not selling gym memberships, you can still get a lot of mileage out of a smart New Year’s promotion. Think about the ways in which the products you sell might help a person turn over a new leaf, try out something new, or become empowered to be their best self.
Now, create a marketing campaign that goes along with that message (pulling out the usual stops like email marketing, product ribbons and social media advertisements), a voila! A new sales opportunity to carry that holiday season revenue push into the New Year.
When all else fails, run a new type of sale. A good one. Something that will signal to your customers that this year, they should be looking forward to new and exciting opportunities with your store.
Never offered free shipping before? Now’s a great time! Have a lot of unsold inventory left? How about a clearance sale? A departure from the normal offer will signal to potential buyers that your shop is one that can embrace new ideas and roll out excitement for everyone.
Want Even More Tips?
We have a whole reading list of relevant articles, tips, and tricks for selling online during the holiday season. Want a break from the blog form? Check out our podcast special on getting holiday ready.
And then head over to your control panel to get in the selling spirit.
Let us know what worked for you this Christmas and New Year, in the comments below!
The post Getting Your E-Commerce Store Ready for Christmas and New Years first appeared on Ecwid | E-Commerce Shopping Cart.