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For many retailers and brands the holiday season is the most essential period of the year; with the highest peaks in site visitors, peak volumes through warehouses, and greatest contribution to annual sales. It is also the time of year with greatest pressure on your business practices and promotional campaigns. eBay Enterprise have gathered our collective experience to help you be more effective in the coming season. See our top tips below for maximising sales during the holiday season and delighting your customers.

Understand who is shopping your site during the holidays
• For many sites, the holiday shopper is fundamentally different than the shopper who visits during the rest of the year. The ‘holiday shopper’ is more likely shopping for a gift and is often in unfamiliar territory – cater to giftees with gift finders; filtering by key attributes such as gift recipient and gift value.

Lay the groundwork early
• Develop a daily forecast and calendar, this plan will be key in not only gauging your progress against plan but will also help coordinate with other groups such as customer service, fulfillment and technology.

Connect with past purchasers
• Don’t be afraid to invest in previous customers. Past purchasers may only represent 8% of site visits, but account for over 40% of total online sales. Make sure these customers feel special with exclusive offers, early access event invitations, and utilise their value with refer-a-friend campaigns.

Break through the clutter
• Inboxes will be continuously bombarded with promotional emails and brand messages. It is essential you break through the clutter and promote value by using more sophisticated tactics. Develop focused holiday messages and triggers across all your campaign channels.

Develop a robust promotional plan
• It is not only essential to develop a robust promotional calendar but to also develop a solid ‘plan B’. Unforseen and uncontrollable events do happen, volatile weather or running out of the ‘hot’ product play havoc with your carefully coordinated plans. Your back up plan will allow you to swiftly respond, and recover what otherwise becomes a game of catch-up.

Engage shoppers anytime, anywhere
• Cater to your device-toting customers by providing exclusive holiday mobile offers. Responsive email design caters to your on the move customers; ensure subject lines are targeted, concise, and have clear call to action.

Leverage the power of social networks
• Focus on ways to harness the power of social media to make shopping fun and rewarding. There’s no better time than the holiday season to recognise those most valuable and influential customers.

Monitor and refine continuously
• Now is the time to closely monitor your site navigation – adding new ‘gift’ categories can become your most popular site destination during the holidays. Similarly review your search terms daily, and create appropriate redirects to relevant products, or to a page that explains you don’t carry the product and offers alternative solutions.

Drive decisions and close sales
• You've worked too hard to get the consumer to the product page (or further) only to have them abandon. Three keys to closing every possible sale: 1) give them all the information they need to make a purchasing decision; 2) remove any and all obstacles that might prevent them from buying; and 3) provide them with other avenues for gathering additional information and finalising their purchase.

Be there when your customers need you
• Empower your call centre agents with the right tools, training and resources to address customer questions and enhance their experience. Also, empower your customers with self-service options on the website so they can easily find answers to questions and complete their orders.

Delight your customers with speed and convenience
• Holiday shoppers are increasingly demanding a choice of delivery options, fast and free service, impeccable packaging and handling, and hassle-free returns. Plan ahead to ensure customers receive their packages as quickly and as perfectly as possible.

Optimise your store assets
• Your stores are one of your best competitive weapons this holiday season. Omnichannel store integration programs drive better customer experiences and increase sales. Don’t forget the store locator – making your store locator easy to find helps those last minute shoppers!

Bounce customers back
• Take advantage of the momentum by getting a customer who has made a purchase to buy again and capture new customers who received your products as a gift. Create a cycle of brand engagement.

This guide distils our collective experience into a single, concise format that can be used as a reference manual and workbook to help you be more effective this coming season, and hopefully emerge prosperously on the other side.

We hope this guide is an integral part in helping you reach and exceed your holiday goals this season.
http://ebayenterprise.com/commersations/publications/2013_holiday_planning_guide/

About eBay Enterprise
eBay Enterprise is a leading global provider of commerce technologies, omnichannel operations and marketing solutions. Our comprehensive and modular solution suite enables the world’s premier brands and retailers to deliver connected consumer experiences across all touch points of the entire purchase lifecycle by engaging potential customers, converting browsers into buyers and delivering products with speed and quality. Our omnichannel solutions and expert strategies help our clients grow faster than the industry and win with today’s digitally connected consumer. eBay Enterprise is headquartered in King of Prussia, Pa. and has major service offices in Barcelona, London, Los Angeles and New York. The products, services, and businesses described above are those of GSI Commerce, Inc. or its wholly owned subsidiaries d.b.a. eBay Enterprise. eBay Enterprise is an eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) company. More information can be found at ebayenterprise.com.

Published on: 1:20PM on 30th October 2013