As summer reaches its peak, most
people are probably more preoccupied with building sandcastles at the
beach than preparing for the holiday period.
But as e-retailers, we know that –
at the time of writing – there are just 121 days until Christmas
day itself. And there's no avoiding it – that most wonderful,
chaotic time of year will be here before we know it!
all know how important this period can be. Since the turn of the
century, holiday sales have soared by nearly half to $3.12
and e-commerce is an important component of this growth. Indeed,
while the growth of overall holiday sales between 2012 and 2013 was a
relatively modest 4.1%, e-commerce
sales rose by 12%.
yet so many online retailers are underprepared. Studies
that 42% plan to begin their marketing push in September, and 23%
even later than that, in October. This is even more surprising given
the delivery issues which plagued online retailers in 2013.
no way around it: the holiday period is a busy, chaotic time, and
plenty of elbow grease is required if you're to maximize its
potential. But you can give yourself the best possible chance of
success by getting
are a few ways you can start planning now...and preserve your sanity
later on in the year!
your inventory ready and up to date
If you haven't already bought up your
inventory for the holiday period, this should be an immediate
priority. It should really be in place and ready to roll by the end
of August to avoid any last-minute drama.
also really important to make sure that your inventory levels are up
to date and accurate. The last thing you want in the holiday rush is
to sell stuff you don't actually have
a total customer service nightmare which you can ill-afford at any
time of year, let alone at Christmas! If you're selling across
multiple channels, make sure you have processes in place to ensure
your inventory is accurate across them all. (Of course, AmeriCommerce
customers will be all set in this regard – our Admin
gives you everything you need!)
your key dates
Now is a great time to take a
strategic, analytical view of the holiday period and define exactly
what you can achieve logistically. Work out how long it generally
takes to fulfil your orders, factor in the inevitable seasonal
delays, and this should give you a realistic, achievable
pre-Christmas order deadline. This date should be communicated
clearly – and regularly – to your customers, helping to avoid any
confusion or post-sales complaints.
The temptation, of course, is to
extend this date and milk as many last-minute sales as possible. But
remember, even if it's due to issues beyond your control, a customer
needs that order in their hands by Christmas Eve, or you can bet
they'll be 100% blaming you! 'Under-promise, over-deliver' is always
the best policy.
up your customer data
The holiday season is a great
opportunity to target your database with timely, relevant
communications. However, if your database is clogged up with old, out
of date, obsolete customer data, you can undermine all that hard
work, however awesome your messaging might be.
Take the time to go through your
database and tidy up this data in the coming weeks. The improved
accuracy can help you be much more targeted in your communications,
resulting in greater focus, relevance and chance of success!
your merchandising ready in advance
Merchandising and product information
is incredibly important. Not only is it a great way to showcase and
sell your products, the content on these pages is actually indexed
and picked up by search engines, driving more traffic.
Putting together the content required
for these pages – and getting them live sooner rather than later –
not only allows you to take care of this important task before you
get insanely busy, but also allows time for the pages to be indexed.
We're talking great product
photography, videos if necessary, and compelling, unique product
descriptions – everything you need to showcase your products
Reading: How important is Product Photography in Ecommerce?
5. Plan your marketing and gather
content in advance
It's no secret that the most effective
marketing is proactive rather than reactive – of course, this means
investing significant time and effort into advance planning.
you approach your busiest time of the year, you want to make sure all
you're doing is launching
campaigns – not creating
the time to start pooling content that will help your sales drive
over the seasonal period. You can write blog articles, create
graphics, and plan e-mail/social content in advance, meaning that all
you need to do during the holiday period is schedule or send out your
This all takes the weight off your
shoulders when it comes to that busy period, freeing you up to
concentrate on logistical stuff.
It's also a good idea to pre-plan your
discounts and promotion codes. What can you realistically afford to
offer your customers? Once you've made a call on this, make sure the
functionality is tested on your website sooner rather than later to
avoid any technical problems during the busy period!
a pretty consistent theme running through these points, and that's
have shown that more than half of e-retailers won't even begin their
marketing push until September, so getting all this leg work done in
August is sure to give you a healthy head-start when it comes to
maximizing your seasonal success. The simple message is this: plan
now, win later! If you ask us, it's never too early to start planning
Have you started planning for the
holidays yet? Let us know in the comments section..