Are you ready for the 2016 holiday shopping season? There are 150 shopping days until Christmas, but dominating the busiest shopping time of the year requires proper positioning for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and every day during the season — and you need to begin preparing for that now.
If there is one lesson to glean from holiday shopping trends of the past, it is that each season brings new opportunities and challenges. Don’t assume a strategy will work just because it did last year. Altering course in the midst of the holiday shopping blitz is extremely difficult, so forecasting what this year’s season will look like now is key.
Consider the following when formulating your holiday plan:
E-Commerce is surging in a big way
During last year’s holiday shopping season, e-commerce sales rose 20% over the previous year while total retail sales rose 7.9% Experts attribute much of the e-commerce growth to consumers who turn to the internet to conduct research and end up converting there as well. A responsive site with a quick path to conversion is vital to driving online sales, but remember that your website is but one touchpoint that omnichannel consumers engage with. So even if e-commerce sales do not make up a large percentage of overall sales, your online presence is an integral aspect of conversions that occur on other channels. If your site isn’t ready to keep consumers engaged, a refresh is immediately in order.
Target your marketing with data and discipline
No matter how broad or niche your target market is, it contains multiple personas that respond differently to messages. Engaging each persona with the right voice, offer, and channel plays a large role in perceived authenticity — and that’s the biggest metric in driving sales. Dive into your customer database and startify personas based on behaviors like merchandise purchased, amount spent, and channels engaged with. Knowing how to communicate with each customer increases the efficacy of every strategy from advance promotions to remarketing to recover abandoned carts
Prepare inventory to meet actual demand
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are losing their oomph. To plan inventory properly, understand that the season has moved away from these flagship days in both directions. The shopping season is expanding into early November and many retailers are seeing success launching holiday promotions around Veteran’s Day. The opposite is also true: the “Amazon Effect”, or knowledge that last minute gifts can always be purchased online, has resulted in greater shopping procrastination. Make sure you have inventory on hand to take advantage of last minute sales and remember that the busiest shopping day of last year wasn’t Black Friday — it was “Super Saturday” (the last Saturday before Christmas).
Get into position now to make sure you’re ready to capitalize on what is starting to look like a busy and profitable 2016 holiday shopping season.