The peak selling season is in full swing. Retailers have just experienced Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which saw record sales both in-store and online. Manic Monday is also on the horizon, during which retail websites are expected to receive 151 million visits, generating a total of £676.5m worth of sales.
During these extremely busy times, online traders need to take advantage of increased opportunities to present their range to its full potential and maximise sales.
The lead-up to Christmas is without doubt the period when online retailers see a significant increase in turnover, with the buying frenzy continuing right up until Christmas day and the sales commencing straight after. Our 10 tips show you how to get your online shops in the best shape to cope with the pre- and post-Christmas rush.
The weeks leading up to Christmas are, without doubt, a stressful period for you as a trader. But customers are also in a rush and they will take their anger at delayed online orders out on you. For this reason, in addition to the standard delivery (2-3 days), you must be sure to offer an express delivery (24 hours). You should also make the payment methods available clear to your customers, as these are a very important factor in the purchase decision.
2.Proactively contact customers
The pre-Christmas period is a very good time for customer newsletters. Write to your customers and tell them, for example, that your online store will deliver as quickly as possible or that your range includes special festive offers.
3.Keep an eye on your stock
Check stock levels in advance and stock up on your best sellers. Avoid having to advertise popular items as “Not available” at all costs. It’s also important to remove items that are no longer in stock from the range immediately or stipulate a reliable delivery date.
4.Check the website
It goes without saying that you know your own online store like the back of your hand. Even so, in the pre‑Christmas period you should be even more vigilant in checking and improving your website. Highlight your customer service, mention the delivery options (standard and express delivery) - it’s better to do it once too often rather than not enough, and don’t forget to highlight discounts and the payment options available. When delivery time is short just before Christmas, that’s when gift vouchers come into their own.
Don’t underestimate the option of vouchers, as gifts of money can be of great significance. Offer your customers a gift card. Prepaid credit cards, ideally branded, are perfect for this. They can be personalised and have your logo on them. For prepaid credit cards the only technical requirement is your standard credit card tool.
People loosen the purse strings at Christmas and customers like to buy even more than they originally planned to. For that reason it is important to display suitable accessories alongside selected items at all times.
It’s not only your stock that needs to be primed for the Christmas trade. Customer service is also on red alert for six weeks. Prepare your customer service for the stressful Christmas trade; that will be sure to pull in extra sales.
Put your store’s goodwill agreements to the test. It’s definitely worth adapting them and adjusting them to fit the customer. But one thing to note: that doesn’t mean giving the customer something for nothing. Just be aware of your customers’ needs. Satisfied customers will come back.
9.Collect customer feedback
On the subject of satisfied customers, do follow-up with your customers after delivery. Ask them whether everything was to their satisfaction. If for whatever reason that’s not the case, try to help the customer.
10.Post-Christmas is just like pre-Christmas
So Christmas is over and sales were good? Congratulations, but for online shops the whole circus starts again on Boxing Day. Impatient types will shop online at Christmas just the same or will want to exchange something quickly. Stay in contact with your customer as immediately after the Christmas trade comes what is known as the post-Christmas trade.
By Frank Breuss, Director of International Sales at The PPRO Group