2017 Holiday Plan: Even out peaks and valleys to maximize sales

3 minute read

Online retailers, regardless of their size, are often so busy handling day-to-day details of the business that holiday preparations get pushed aside. While key selling periods like Cyber Week and Boxing Week can feel far away, planning ahead helps attract more customers, and finish the year with a bang.

Holiday sales volumes continue growing year after year as shoppers seek the product variety and convenience that online shopping provides. Canada Post has seen this growth in our own e-commerce shipping volumes, with key selling periods like Cyber Week and Boxing Week yielding even higher sales than the rest of the holiday season.

Extend the cycle during key selling periods

How can merchants stand out and attract shoppers for longer time periods during the all-important holiday season?

Since 2013, Canada Post has been monitoring the biggest e-commerce merchants in Canada during the holidays to evaluate how promotional activities impact e-commerce volumes. One key trend seen in 2016: Successful merchants are leveraging pre-sales before key selling periods, such as Cyber and Boxing Week, and are sustaining promotional activity from mid-November until year-end.

A well-timed, targeted approach that attracts shoppers’ interest earlier on can extend these lucrative shopping windows, level out the number of orders you receive, and help you better manage surging sales volumes to avoid fulfillment bottlenecks.

Tip: Give pre-sales prominence for maximum impact

Holiday pre-sales leading up to major Cyber Week or Boxing Week sales allow you to test the types of promotions most likely to resonate with your audience. They also provide an excellent opportunity for early holiday capacity planning, which can really help you better match forecasts to real sales.

Following the frenzy of Cyber Week, online shoppers’ attention usually shifts towards making Christmas purchases, which carries on until mid-December. Offering and promoting pre-Boxing Day sales can maintain shoppers’ interest until Boxing Week, as well as cater to those all-important last-minute shoppers.

Learn how to extend your selling windows and prevent fulfillment bottlenecks over the holidays

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Tip: Give pre-sales prominence for maximum impact

Emphasize pre-sales opportunities or extended shipping deadlines around important holiday events, and highlight them in the best screen space on your website. The more noticeable these offerings are, the more important they’ll seem to shoppers.

Reaping the benefits of effective holiday promotions

The holiday season is the best time of year to give it all you’ve got. Online shoppers are hunting for the very best sales and shipping offers, so make sure to create campaigns that actually delight customers instead of simply adding to holiday “noise.”

Create build-up and excitement to keep shoppers coming back to your website to check the latest sale. Post a countdown or use language that increases urgency or implies exclusivity: “This week only: Free shipping on orders of $75 or more.”

Tip: Leverage a healthy mix of sales promotions

Build your audience by having visitors to your e-commerce site to participate in competitions, giveaways and other activities on social media. Offer them unique pre-sales including, but not limited to, style/brand sales, BOGO offers or incentives like credit for future purchases.

By offering varying and effective sales promotions throughout the holiday season, particularly on the days before established high-volume periods like Cyber Week, merchants can ease fulfillment issues by levelling out volume spikes with continued promotional activity.

In order to make your sales stand out from the rest, you need to come to the table with a strong series of your own shipping offers to complement your sales promotions that will grab shoppers’ attention.

Tip: Gain an edge with free shipping

The incentive and expectation of free shipping, or at the very least offering express shipping, increases orders and conversion enough to offset your costs. As a bonus, it will also mean an incremental boost to sales.

Your shipping department will be in overdrive as a result of continuous and enhanced promotions, so it’s crucial that your fulfilment processes are top notch. At the same time, ensure you have the necessary resources and inventory levels on hand to offer your shoppers a great shopping experience –  not only during peak periods but the entire season. Sustained promotions throughout the holidays mean you’ll have consistent orders over a longer period of time.

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