Some say the holidays are a goldmine opportunity for businesses to maximise product sales. But if you want to take a real break this season or next, use your time wisely.
Plan it, communicate it and make sure you damn well stick to it for your own mental wellbeing!
For those selling products it isn’t rare to hear that certain businesses (especially fashion, packaged goods, and luxury items) do up to 80 to 90pc of their revenue during the holiday months… months which have already started for many shoppers.
Indeed, I heard last month some retail brands are so challenged with poor high street performance a new line goes on sale the day it goes on display. In tough times, as retailers we have to be utterly at the top of our game.
Although more and more people are shopping globally, they have different expectations. Don’t jump in without doing your own due diligence. Now is definitely not the time to open shops in other countries. Maximise what you have set in place ready for a springboard to open new territories next year.
Holiday season sales work – to a point
The story is even better news for e-commerce. While some customers continue to shop for the holidays in person, US retail e-commerce spending was estimated to have . UK e-commerce sales were forecast to increase as a proportion of all spending from 16.9pc in 2017 to 18pc in 2018.
Once regarded as up-and-coming retail holidays, Black Friday (November 29) and Cyber Monday (December 2) are now cornerstones of online holiday shopping — and the numbers prove it. Or perhaps they don’t tell the full story. There’s no doubting the sales numbers, but for some I am not so certain the profit figures are as solid.
Massive discounting may enable you to shift old stock or slower moving goods before the new season starts. However, you have to plan carefully and surround older and unwanted stock with a limited range of premium products at this time of year.
One of my companies, KitBrix CityBrix will be using the promotional period to offer outrageous value with the hope to also have the knock-on effect of selling other KitBrix accessories in a bundle offer.
Having done some research I discovered that during last year, out of all holiday digital revenue, almost half of it (40pc) occurred during Cyber week (the period spanning the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through to Cyber Monday).
That may not, by the way, mean all brands need to be discounting like mad. Indeed one of our brand investments, Yogi Bare (which sells the best of the rest Yoga equipment) took a stand not to sell on these days. So did Dryrobe, which gave its staff a day off to “go surfing”. I suspect not all surfed!
6 tips to maximise product sales over holiday season
How should we as e-retailers be prepared for this influx of holiday traffic and sales?
To stand out is very difficult in any sales space. Personalising a product with someone’s initials creates a huge value, which is why brands like GATE8 luggage and Yogi Bare can personalise their products with embroidery.
Clear software features allow buyers to make choices, so we spend time testing how we communicate valuable features such as these.
Here are some thoughts and ideas to get shipshape and able to take a growth strain:
#1 Agree and share your Christmas closing dates in good time
Have you put a website notification listing closing dates for last orders for consumers? Is it designed and a “go live” date prepared and agreed, containing a warning for the actual date when you are promised (with a buffer cover) to be certain of delivery before Christmas?
Use every opportunity, to publicise these dates: Pacific Direct, my previous company, used to sticker each physical invoice which goes out from about September onward with a reminder of last order dates. I wonder what you are sending that could include these notices. Perhaps put your last order dates on the signature of any:
- Newsletters from September
- On email signatures to trade customers
- On quotes for new customers
#2 Get ready to take on a Christmas shift to free your staff
The same announcements need to be considered when talking to staff. For years we have worked with our employees to gift them a thorough time off, which does mean other management and the leadership team have to step up and be active and available from Christmas Eve until work starts for real again. Agree who is covering which days of customer service communications, even if you cannot get goods from the warehouse.
#3 Communicate service standard expectations to all staff
This helps people be as proactive as possible towards year-end. Think hard about what you inform your staff of the access to good and if there is a closing date time for your warehouse. Don’t that New Year creates another flurry of activity.
#4 Mystery shop your own customer service process – and adapt fast
I have recently sent a test email to each of the companies I work with to sense check their service response to new enquiries – ensuring the process is slick but also checking the standards by which we respond and communicate. This has resulted in some price list improvement and some additional innovations in the run up to the rush period.
#5 In the US use the right language – so holidays, not Christmas
This is the way to approach the handling of Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as being respectful of all other religious celebrations.
#6 Agree your packaging post-Christmas for next year
We start having conversations with our warehouse picking staff and the supply base well before Christmas. Indeed, we try to put the design style, packaging and each year’s seasonal look and feel for Christmas to bed well before the prior year-end.
I am assuming if you bring in goods from outside, then you must have thought about excess stock and run rates of expected sales months and months ago, so won’t state the obvious here.
But there is one last thing. Plan your company Christmas party for January. They’ll enjoy it more as they’ll be back to breathing normally. Good luck!
Lara Morgan turned brand licensing business Pacific Direct into a global leader before exiting for £20m. She is now an investor and leader of several businesses in the sport, travel and wellness spaces