Leverage your promotional, website and shipping strategies to win more holiday sales.

The holiday season can be one of the most profitable times of the year for your business, but it can also be difficult to navigate. Shoppers are on the hunt for the best deals and competition is fierce. With so many enticing promotions everywhere you look, it can be challenging to stand out. 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.

If you want to break through the noise with a winning strategy this holiday season, here are 3 tips that will help.

Tip #1: Extend the season with impactful offers

By stretching your seasonal promotions, and offering site-wide sales, you can tap into the full potential of the holiday season. Try offering a mix of extended promotions and site wide sales to really drive sales.

Extended promotions

Year after year, more merchants are extending the holiday season by offering pre-holiday and post-holiday deals. This helps merchants manage peak order volumes, and garner more sales throughout the season. For instance, merchants frequently extend product sales on the days leading up to Black Friday, and leverage the period before boxing week, by offering sales meant to appeal to last minute holiday shoppers.

Merchants also tend to extend shipping promotions during this time, offering hurried customers free and fast shipping. They're wise to do so because enticing shipping promotions encourage customers to make purchases and lead to spikes in sales.

When it comes to which shipping promotions to offer, you have options. Some merchants offer free shipping across all orders, while others offer it with a minimum purchase, or on specific items only.

Offering free shipping throughout the holidays may not be financially feasible for all merchants, but a strategic mix of shipping promotions can satisfy customer expectations without breaking the bank. For instance, a merchant may only offer free shipping on peak sales days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to compete with other businesses in their space.

Dabble in site-wide sales

The biggest sale you can offer your customers is a site-wide sale. In recent years, more merchants have gotten on board with the trend. Last holiday season, site-wide promotions more than doubled compared to the previous year – with fashion and Health and Beauty merchants being the most likely to offer them.

Hosting a site-wide sale may inspire your customers to try something new, buy more items than they would otherwise, and purchase products that they haven't purchased from your site before. Be sure to review your product mix to determine if a site-wide sale is suitable for your business and that you have enough inventory to pull it off.

Tip #2: Showcase clear policies and deadlines on your website

It's important to have a strong shipping and returns policy in place for your business year round, but it's especially critical during the holiday season. Consumers want to see your store's shipping deadlines front and centre on your website to ensure that they will receive their orders on time.

Your returns policy should be easy to find on your website, and easy to understand. Shoppers will want to see it during the pre-purchase stage, so make sure they can find it without difficulty. Many of the purchases made during the holidays are gifts, and shoppers want to know if they are easily returnable in case they are the wrong fit, didn't meet their expectations, etc.

Tip #3: Choose the right partners, and leverage their support

Having support and guidance from your ecommerce partners is particularly important during the holiday season. It's critical to work with partners that understand your business needs, and can help you succeed.

The right web partner

Ensure that your ecommerce platform partner can integrate with your fulfilment operations. You will need to optimize your website for this purpose well in advance of the holiday season in order to manage a spike in sales. Everything should be set up and operational by November at the latest. If your business is growing, ensure that you have a powerful and scalable order management system in place so you can fulfill your orders quickly.

The right delivery partner

You need to have a strong relationship with a trusted delivery partner. They will help you get your products into the hands of customers when it matters most. You should also make sure that your ecommerce platform enables seamless integration between your online store and delivery carrier to facilitate efficient label printing.

Opt for a delivery partner with a vast delivery network, and a strong physical store network. With that in place, you can offer your customers a convenient mix of delivery and pick up options that will keep them coming back for more. Most Canadian online shoppers want free shipping, and are willing to wait for it; others want their orders shipped ASAP and are willing to pay for the rush; and some prefer to order online and pickup in store. The right delivery partner will make them all happy.

With heightened customer expectations and tougher competition during the holiday season, your business really has to strive to thrive. By developing a strong promotional mix, strengthening your online communications, and relying on the right partners, you will be well on your way to winning more sales and achieving your business objectives this holiday season.

Download our Holiday Success Guide for insights and tips to help you ace the holiday season.

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