The Holiday Season At Scale

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the holiday season 2020 is fast approaching, but there’s still plenty of time to prepare. Traffic spikes, email offers, special design elements, there are so many details to consider when preparing for the high-volume holiday season. Make sure your eCommerce customers get all the benefits they need during the seasonal blow out sales. 

When it comes to planning for the holidays in eCommerce, best practices are everywhere. Yet advice from the right people on how to approach the biggest online shopping season of the year is rare.

Let’s start with the big picture.

Top five concerns for holiday eCommerce:

  1. Rising ad spend – 80.4%
  2. Customer service needs – 74.5%
  3. Inventory – 72.5%
  4. Shipping and fulfillment – 64.7%
  5. Returns – 56.9%

Certain aspects can be considered as a solution to the concerns that are faced during the holiday season. Take buyer psychology as a priority:

  1. Most people aren’t shopping for themselves

One strategy to be considered is creating recipient-specific gift guides to help shoppers who are looking to fill specific needs but don’t know where to begin. Another is, organizing inventory by persona like parents, children, colleagues, etc. If a merchant can find a way to provide inspiring practical solutions to stressed holiday shoppers, they’ll have an immediate competitive advantage.

Bundling products is a chip off the same fairway. Customers will be more inclined to buy the pricier clubs if they can throw them into a free bag. A merchant might also try offering discounts on recommended products and letting customers bundle less-expensive gifts.

  1. Everyone is looking for a discount

It’s important to keep in mind that discounts are everywhere during the holiday season 2020, and everybody is looking for one. For most of the holiday shoppers, a good deal is way more important than brand loyalty or after-sales service.

Merchants should do everything they can to advertise discounts during the holiday season. Don’t stop at highlighting discounted products on the homepage. Always make the discount as clear as possible on the product detail page. Show customers a percentage figure or a total dollar amount of how much they’re saving and reinforce the value of the discount throughout the checkout process.

Most effective holiday eCommerce offers:

  1. Site-wide discounts – 74.5%
  2. Specific product discounts – 58.8%
  3. Coupon codes – 52.9%
  4. Free shipping on all orders – 43.1%
  5. Free shipping by order value – 41.2%

Go big or go home. That’s the driving takeaway from the site-wide discounts that dominate the list. Even for companies that don’t normally discount, the holidays offer an opportunity to do so without hurting your brand’s reputation. Unfortunately, site-wide discounts, while enticing to customers, can wreak havoc on profit margins. Likewise, free shipping has become the norm in online shopping, which too can undercut profitability.

Everything You Need to Prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  1. Prepare early for customers who have already started researching

It is important to prepare your holiday sales as early as you can and let your customers and visitors know about your upcoming sale well in advance.

According to research, over 70% of US shoppers plan to participate in BFCM. It is essential to not only start preparing early but also to ensure that customers looking for gift ideas and information on particular products find you amongst the sea of competitors.

  1. Partner with influencers

Partnering with influencers to promote your products during the holiday season can be an effective way to build widespread brand awareness and trust. Done the right way, influencer marketing can also drive direct sales during your seasonal campaigns.

The key to setting up a successful influencer promotion is knowing in advance how your product resonates with their audience. Look amongst those whom you’ve had some success with in the past and choose your top-performing influencer partners to promote your sale.

  1. Break it down into daily deals

Keeping the momentum and excitement throughout your holiday season sale is one of the most challenging aspects of an extended BFCM campaign. Successfully engaging new shoppers during multiple days may require the creation of exclusive sales on specific products.

Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Store runs single day offers called “Bay Days,” where they choose different product deals to highlight each day throughout a long sale period.

  1. Craft an irresistible BFCM offer

A strategy many retailers use is to run a “jaw-dropping” holiday season sale on a popular item to attract customers to their store.

There’s a chance they’ll pick up a few other items on their way to the checkout. Occasionally this product serves as a loss leader as the customers end up adding more to their cart than they would have without the flagship product’s deep discount.

  1. Organize your upcoming sales

Look at all of your products and plan your deals and the holiday season discounts ahead of time instead of putting on a sale last minute. Review your margins and inventory to find suitable discounts, and learn how to set up different discounts on Shopify Plus. For this BFCM, you can now create automatic holiday season discounts that will apply to a user’s eligible cart. 

Choose the products you want to run a holiday season sale on and schedule their start dates and sale prices. This way, when the sale rolls around, you can refer to your plans instead of scrambling at the last minute. You can find help in the Shopify App Store to make scheduling sales easy.

  1. Create contingency plans

Do you have the proper backups in place in case anything goes awry? What happens if the shipping company you work with becomes too busy? How quickly can the inventory be restocked if you sell out earlier than expected?

We’re not looking to stir up unfounded fears, but it’s important to prepare for tough situations. Think about the worst-case scenarios for your business and create contingency plans wherever possible. It’s much easier to handle the planning now with Shopify Plus rather than troubleshooting in the midst of the biggest holiday season sales weekend of the year.

  1. Ensure your store can handle the increased demand

If you rely on a supplier for your inventory, or your product is created or manufactured by you or your team, consider the increased demand you’ll experience during the holiday season.

Use forecasting tools to predict Holiday season sales better and to order enough supplies before BFCM. 

Work with the necessary suppliers and ensure they’re prepared to handle your projected sales for the holiday season. One of the worst things that can happen during a holiday season sale is selling out faster than you wanted to and not meeting the demand of your customers.

Ideas For Holiday Season Email Campaigns:

Begin planning, creating, and scheduling the emails you’ll send out during your Black Friday and Cyber Monday or holiday season sales. Here are some ideas for email campaigns you can put together:

Announcing Black Friday Cyber Monday sale: You can send details of the sale ahead of time to existing subscribers, and a reminder email when the sale officially begins.

Last reminder before the sale ends: With the volume of emails sent over BFCM, it can’t hurt to remind subscribers that your sale is almost over to make sure they’re aware. Plus, you’ll inevitably get some procrastinators jumping on the expiring deals.

Exclusive sale for email subscribers: One way to capture attention in a crowded BFCM inbox is to send a deal that’s only available to your list, on top of your publicly-posted deals. Make sure to distribute it on other channels, like Instagram, and let people know when to expect the subscriber-only offer.

Sneak-peek of upcoming promotions: Whether your BFCM offer is a discount, an exclusive product, free shipping, donations to charity, or a totally-unique-to-you promotion, start teasing it early to your subscribers so they’re on the lookout for the announcement. Send emails in the weeks leading up to BFCM and holiday season with hints and teasers.

There is too much to do to prepare for the holiday season sale. Remain customer-centric as you prepare. The holidays are about giving. So make the best use of Shopify Plus and its advantages to give your customers a memorable holiday season experience. In return, they’ll give you the greatest gift of all, their loyalty!

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