Preparing Your Ecommerce Store For the 2019 Holiday Selling Season
The holiday season is far from being an easy time for sellers. If your business is doing volume, it’ll most likely be your busiest time of the year.
- Don’t procrastinate. Start early
- Give your shoppers what they want
- Be smart about promotion
- Ensure your back-end operations are running smoothly
As we go into November, the mad Holiday season rush it coming quickly upon us. Black Friday, Cyber Monday (even pre-Cyber week), Christmas and Boxing Day.
The National Retail Federation says that the holiday season can represent between 20-30% of total annual sales for some retailers. That’s just a single month!
Due to the massive consumer demand, the world of online retailing the holiday season is starting earlier and ending later each year. Gone are the days of a single “Cyber Monday” sale. Retailers are now stretching this out to one and even two whole weeks of promotions and discounts for shoppers. Lately, these sales actually begin before Cyber Monday as a “pre-Cyber Monday week sale”.
What does this mean for you as an online retailer? This means you need to start prepping early. September, October and early November are the rush days to get your inventory ready. You absolutely need to be ready to launch your seasonal promotions the week before Thanksgiving and Black Friday. And if you aren’t? You can be sure that your competition will be.
Shoppers want what they want, and their demand and expectations increases year after year. If you don’t meet that demand, your competitors likely will and will win those customers over.
If you want to make your customers happy and keep them coming back for more, here’s a simple list of things to do:
- If you’re running time/limited quantity promos, display this loud and clear so your shoppers know exactly what to expect so they aren’t disappointed (and you’ll get the added benefit of scarcity increasing your sales even more)
- Clearly tell your customers how long it will take you to fulfill and ship their order. Holiday season shipping can sometimes take quite a bit longer than normal. Even though this isn’t your fault (it’s up to the shipping carriers), tell your shoppers BEFORE they buy anyway. They’ll appreciate the honesty.
- Make sure your return policy is clearly displayed. This is especially important if you’re an apparel retailer as you’ll get the majority of your returns during the holiday season!
- It’s a good idea to have multiple shipping options/speeds available to help accommodate last minute gift shoppers.
Paid ad campaigns will be your biggest asset this time of year. Whether it’s Facebook/Instagram Ads, Google Ads, Snapchat Ads, Pinterest Ads or whatever your preferred method is, go big during this period. If you aren’t advertising on any of these channels, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.
Though during this time of year, Facebook & Instagram Ads will probably have the biggest effect and give you the biggest return on your investment, as long as you do it smart.
While not meant to be anywhere near comprehensive consider this advertising strategy for your advertising season, commonly called carpet bombing:
- Prospecting Campaign with Video View Objective: Test the following audiences each in their own adsets: 2 interests and 3 lookalike audiences (based off different segments, i.e. purchases, video views, adds to cart, view content, etc) and optimize the adsets for video views. Use a professional video of your products thats 30 seconds to a minute in length.
- Retargeting campaign with Conversion objective: 3 adsets. Retarget people who watched at least 50% of the video. Do 3, 7 and 10 day retargeting for the three different adsets with the adsets optimized for purchases.
If you’re not an expert in Facebook ads, this is a basic strategy to use that can prove to be quite cost effective for new advertisers, especially during the holiday season where you can pitch different deals for each step of the retargeting phase.
The keys to smooth backend operations is ensuring you have proper inventory, warehouse and order/shipping automation and tracking in place.
Ideally, if you’ve been in business for over a year you should have reports you can pull up from last year on the amount of inventory you sold so you can prepare for this year accordingly.
When it comes time to fulfill orders, having a robust inventory management system in place can seriously cut down on the time that it takes to find your sold inventory and get it out the door to your customers. Good fulfillment times and good service can often translate to repeat customers outside of the holiday season.
If you haven’t already done so, consider implementing an all-in-one inventory, listing and order/shipping management system like Kyozou for next years holiday season. It can prove to pay dividends in terms of saving you time and ensuring your customers have the best buying experience possible.