Preparing Holiday Retail Sales Promotions

Preparing Holiday Retail Sales Promotions

Are you ready to sell online these holidays?

If we think about the second question first then it may help us to set expectations for the Christmas period. The one thing that dominates Christmas and the holiday season this year is the global financial crisis. Speculation on what might happen over the next few months is best left to experts. How it will affect the business of selling online is something we have to determine.

There are two guarantees; holidays will happen, and people will still spend up on gifts and food for the holiday season.

Every year Christmas is the dominant retail sales period in Australia and New Zealand if not worldwide. But retail sales increase around all the major holiday periods like Easter. We also see increased sales for special events and days like Mothers Day and Valentines day. Worldwide trends have been favourable for online shopping and the latest Online Shopping Trends Report from Nielsens can provide some new confidence for online sellers. The trend is for more people to buy online being driven by many factors and this is unlikely to slow.

This year;

  • more people will buy online,
  • consumers will look for bargains more so than in the past,
  • comparison shopping will be the norm,
  • buyers will look for added value and special offers.

Buying online for Christmas starts as early as September but the real peak happens in the first week of December. This year we will see a later start and a longer buying period. The after Christmas, New Years sales, will still be important to sell off overstocked items at bargain prices. But you have to prepare in advance for any of the holidays or holiday seasons. Waiting til the last minute just won't give you results.

To be ready for holidays you have to think of a number of issues:

  1. Is your online store ready? It is no use waiting until December to set up the store as you just won't make it in time.
  2. Do you have the products to sell? Getting the stock can be tricky the closer you get to a popular holiday so you need to know what you will need now.
  3. When is my delivery cut off date going to be? It is no use selling to a customer who expects delivery if you cannot get the product delivered on time. So you need to tell your buyers what they can expect if they buy later than a specific date.
  4. Do you have a safe checkout process setup like PayPal Express now the leading Australian payment method according to Nielsen Research or eWAY one of Australia’s leading payment providers? Consumers will be more careful this Christmas and look for security when buying online.
  5. Add an SSL certificate to your webstore like a COMODO Instant SSL, these add to buyer confidence.
  6. Think about promotions? You can setup special Google AdWords Campaigns just for key holidays and help drive traffic to your store. Go talk to your SEM partner like Hot Goanna.
  7. Use the Price Comparison portals like www.getprice.com.au to promote your products and special offers and drive qualified traffic to your webstore.
  8. Are you offering holiday specials? You can put up products that have special pre-Christmas offers such as free delivery. This can help you get higher conversions.
  9. Add special holiday keywords? Make sure that you add the keywords to you Meta-keywords with plenty of time to get crawled by the search engines long before the holiday date. Also make sure that you add Special Holiday Gift category names and description text to match up with you keywords.
  10. Products are all important and you might think of price ranges for gifts so that you fit everyone’s budgets.
  11. People buying gifts want ideas so give them some. Set up special categories like "Gifts for him", Gifts for Mum", "Gifts for the dog", "Take a chance gifts" and so on. Be inventive as you need to stand out in a crowd.
  12. Don't forget that Google might take weeks to crawl and index your new content so allow plenty of time and don't wait till the last minute.
  13. Gift wrapping and gift cards can be easily added in the shopping basket so you might want to think about offering free gift wrapping and free gift delivery.
  14. You can have multiple shipping addresses so your buyers can ship directly to an alternative address. Offer this service and make sure you get the gift there on time.
  15. Free shipping for all Holiday Purchases, or anytime, can be a great incentive to buy online. If you are selling a product online you can structure an average shipping price into your costs. Then allow free shipping by Australia Post.
  16. You can time the shipping and delivery so that as you get closer to the holiday shipping is no longer free but maybe at a premium to ensure delivery.
  17. Give your store a holiday theme. It is easy to setup a new style and change the colours and banners. You can even start doing that right now and make that the live style later in the year. Set up a count down - it can be a easy as a little added text to your home page.
  18. After the holiday is a great time for specials and people on vacation like to shop around for bargains. So don't think everything stops on December 25th. The smart store operators will be ready with the Boxing Day and New Years specials campaigns come December 26th.

Bottom line is holidays are the most important retail selling times and online selling times and you need to be prepared to take advantage. Your online store needs to be complete and setup as soon as possible and you need to start promotions early and not wait until a week before the holidays start.

Start to promote only when you are ready and you store is complete. Remember you don't need thousands of products just a few of the products that sell. Focus on quality and provide good content (descriptions, images etc) and the products will sell.