When purse strings are loosened and shopping inhibitions are put on the back seat, brands respond by offering their best for the lowest price. What is it? It’s a holiday: a time when sales abound and money flows like wine. A holiday is a brand’s and a consumer’s best friend because both end up on top. It’s a win-win situation that comes around a couple of times per year and is missed when it’s gone — until the next one comes around, that is.
The Holiday Sale
Retail sales from 1st November through Christmas Eve, the so-called holiday season, were up 4.9% in 2017, resulting in the highest rate of growth since 2011. Narrowing on online sales and that figure increases to 18.1%. Clearly, sales work. We, as consumers, love deals and jump at the opportunity to pay less, even if we had no real inclination of making the purchase before the sale aspect was introduced.
Thankfully, even though the official holiday season is limited to the tail-end of the year, the real holiday season is year-round. From Valentine’s Day to Boxing Day, we have holidays and special events every month that can be capitalised for extra profits. Let’s take a look at a retail holiday calendar 2018 edition:
|● Valentine’s Day (14th February)
● London Fashion Week (16th – 20th February & 14th – 18th September)
● Mother’s Day (11th March)
● Easter Weekend (30th March – 2nd April)
● Father’s Day (17th June)
● eCommerce Expo (26th – 27th September)
● Buy British Day (1st October)
|● Halloween (31st October)
● Black Friday (23rd November)
● Cyber Monday (26th November)
● Small Business Saturday (2nd December)
● Free Shipping Day (15th December)
● Christmas (25th December)
● Boxing Day (26th December)
All of these (and many that aren’t here) can be converted into holiday sales. All you need are the ‘three holiday Ps.’
The Three Holiday Ps
Planning for upcoming holiday sales as an eCommerce agency can be summed up with three Ps: analyse the past, plan for the future, and promote the sale. First, the past will serve as a guide for the future — you have to know what worked and what didn’t, otherwise you risk making the same mistakes. Second, with proper preparation and planning, you end up with a strategy that can account for everything and leaves enough space for tweaking if something comes up. Third, you have to promote the sale, if not your audience will be left in the dark and the sale in the dust.
Analyse the PAST
The first step you should take when planning a holiday sale is to analyse the past. Have you had holiday sales before? If so, which promotions were most successful? Were there any best-selling products? What about channels — did any channel funnel the most site visitors that ultimately ended up converting? You have to ask yourself all these questions because key in planning is to look over past data to see what worked and what didn’t. After looking at your own data, move to the industry as a whole. Study the landscape, keep track of past and current trends and incorporate them into your sale. After all, the data is right there, why not use it to your advantage?
PLAN for the Future
Preparation is vital; with a proper strategy in place, holiday sales are much less stressful. Because of this, you have to plan ahead of time — way ahead. Keep in mind that the unexpected sometimes happens, so leave enough wiggle room for any deviations from the original plan. Start by going over your inventory to find if there’s anything in excess. If so, make the sale work for you and get rid of those hard-to-sell items. On the other end of the spectrum, if you have any best-sellers, stock up on them so you don’t run out mid-sale and disappoint your customers.
As you progress in your planning, create a promotions calendar and decide the route you’re going to take. In terms of discounts, give your customers actual savings — you can go small-to-big, big-to-small, small-big-small, big-small-big, and so on. For example, take a look at the following Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale:
- Black Friday: 50% OFF ALL ITEMS & additional 25% on select items!
- Saturday: 35% OFF ALL ITEMS!
- Sunday: Free Shipping on ALL ITEMS!
- Cyber Monday: 50% OFF ALL ITEMS!
- Tuesday: 20% OFF ALL ITEMS!
One final thing, don’t have the discounts every day. Not only may your customers leave everything to the last and forget about it completely, but offering varying degrees of discounts will also keep them on their toes; they’ll browse longer for those must-have items they don’t want to miss out on.
PROMOTE the Sale
The last thing to check off before the actual sale is to promote it. Think like a creative digital agency and be creative! You want to build anticipation, so tease your audience with bits and pieces of information as you lead up to it. To this end, make the most of social media and email marketing to increase your sale’s visibility and awareness of it amongst your audience.
First, give them a heads up that you’ll be having a sale soon — tease it, build up the suspense and make them want it (bonus points if you tell them to keep a lookout for your emails). Next comes the actual announcement with some of the discounts you’ll offer. Don’t give them everything in the initial announcement though, keep them waiting for your emails so the initial excitement carries over email to email. From here, it’s a reminder email now and then with more and more information until the sale finally arrives.
Part of the promotion is also to switch up your brand’s content in preparation for the upcoming sale. Apart from putting out ads to build extra awareness, don’t forget to set up landing pages and sale banners across your site with clear CTAs so your users are always one click away from your products.
When is the biggest sale in UK commerce? Year-round. With holidays popping up every month, there’s always an opportunity to make your customers happy with a sale. You can choose one or all, but do save your biggest savings for one or two across the year.