What tactics can retailers use to make the most of seasonal shopping opportunities?
Autumn/fall is now upon us. And although Christmas might seem a long way away, some shoppers are already stocking up with gifts for the festive season.
According to some recent research from shopping channel QVC, 1.5m Londoners have already started their Christmas shopping.
That’s a substantial pre-season opportunity, but you must act now to engage with early bird shoppers or risk missing out to the competition.
The traditional Christmas shopping season has seen upheaval in recent years, including ever-longer seasonal sales promotions and the growing popularity of online shopping. And most recently, the emergence of Black Friday has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons.
Black Friday was introduced to the UK by Amazon in 2010. Although fairly new, this sales event reaped £1.1bn last year in 2015, up 33% on the year before.
With such lucrative revenues, you might have already launched your own Black Friday promotions in recent years, but now you must be prepared to serve seasonal shoppers even earlier in the year.
So what are the main tactics you can use to make the most of this opportunity?
Gear up for ‘peak’ performance
The growth of the Christmas peak in spending now spans over two months of sales, so be prepared to deliver exceptional service and maximise profits throughout the entire time.
In the UK, the Black Friday sales period isn’t punctuated at the end with the Thanksgiving public holiday as in the US, so your promotions can run all the way to Christmas and even through to January.
In addition to sustaining promotions, reward the loyalty of your returning and longstanding customers.
With the increased competition between online and physical retailers, you must create compelling reasons to keep them coming back for more.
Unique offers and content for specific customer segments demonstrates that you appreciate their loyalty and helps deepen their emotional connection to your brand.
Argos’ extended sale.
Cater to all shopping habits
On Black Friday, there will be many different kinds of shoppers hunting for bargains, some for altruistic reasons and others more selfish.
Research from delivery firm Doddle showed that instead of purchasing gifts for those on their Christmas list, 40% of Brits make personal purchases on Black Friday.
As well as creating promotions for gift ideas, analyze your customers’ past purchases and browsing preferences over the year so you can deliver the right offers for self-gifters in the lead up to Black Friday, and then for those buying gifts for others in the weeks that follow.
Brexit and the resulting currency fluctuations have attracted more shoppers from overseas markets, such as China.
Factor in this potentially increased demand, and make your website navigation and checkout process, including shipping details, as easy as possible for international shoppers.
Get ready for Black Friday 2.0
Consumers are becoming even more tech savvy. They use social media to research products and are browsing and buying products across multiple devices.
In fact, some of our own research showed that 37% of shoppers use their smartphones to complete a purchase, while almost a third (30%) use their tablets.
You need to be able to track these customers across the entire purchasing journey and provide the right encouragement to convert initial interest into sales, and avoid customers leaving items lingering idly in baskets.
The Black Friday phenomenon has already delivered success for many retailers, but as with the retail market, it is constantly evolving.
Understand your customers and their purchasing journeys to maximise revenue between now and the year’s end. Black Friday is casting a longer shadow, but by making the most of the entire seasonal shopping period, you can significantly increase your annual sales results.