The Holidays: the most wonderful time of year…especially for retailers. And with Deloitte’s latest holiday sales forecast projecting as much as $965 billion in sales between November and January – a 4% increase over last year – this season is about to be even more wonderful.
To make the most of this golden opportunity, retailers need to have a strategy in place well before Black Friday. That’s why we’ve created these five sales tips to make this holiday season the brightest one yet.
Tip #1: Timing is everything
They say the early bird catches the worm, but the same might not be true during the holidays. Displaying holiday messaging or decorations too early might actually turn off customers you’re trying to court.
According to Outbrain’s recent holiday content study, marketers typically roll out their holiday content during the first half of November. But most consumers’ holiday spirit doesn’t reach its merry apex until late November or early December. The study showed a peak in holiday content consumption on Cyber Monday, with 26 percent more clicks compared to the Sunday immediately before it.
The point being, just because some stores are selling Christmas décor before Halloween doesn’t mean your marketing efforts need to follow (Santa) suit. Instead, use the weeks leading up to peak season to create strategic, targeted, and well-timed holiday messaging.
Tip #2: Mobile matters…more than you might think
In every industry, in every market, and at any time of the year, mobile is more important than ever. And in the retail world, this is especially true during the holiday season. Why? Mobile is where the shoppers are. In a study by Synchrony Financial, 45% of all respondents said they used a mobile device to perform a shopping-related task (like researching, sharing, purchasing, or reviewing) in 2015. And the number of mobile-only shoppers is growing, too: according to comScore, 13% of internet users access digital retail destinations via mobile devices only.
In fact, more Americans open and click on holiday content via smartphones during the last three weekends of November and on Christmas Day than they do via computers (source: Outbrain). With this in mind, retailers must make sure their mobile site is easy to find and easy to use. Tailor your communications for mobile readers and use a responsive email marketing template that’ll ensure your content looks great on any device. Remember: a site that takes too long to load or is poorly designed is probably going to result in lost sales.
Tip #3: Take care of your showroomers
Another reason retailers lose sales by not being mobile-friendly? Showrooming. According to one report, 75% of mobile shoppers use their phone while in the store, with 25 percent of those actually using a mobile device to make there purchase on site!
The good news is, apps win with showroomers: more than half of the consumers who responded to Cisco’s fifth annual retail survey said they’ll use a retailer’s app while shopping, with many using third-party apps for the same purpose. Strong mobile apps not only help retailers provide a convenient and efficient shopping experience, but they can also deliver special offers or money-saving coupons once customers walk through the door.
Tip #4: Whip your app into shape before the holiday sprint
Happy Holidays! To say your app is about to get a workout is an understatement. Make sure it’s in peak condition with a preseason tune-up.
Analyze the performance of your app now to identify existing problems, and fix them before the heavy shopping season begins. App insights allow brands to diagnose critical issues, see which devices and operating systems cause trouble, and prioritize bug fixes for the biggest business impact. More importantly, performance monitoring can flag how and when your app stops working, so you can resolve those issues before they cost you buyers during the high-stakes holidays.
While you’re at it, this is also a great time to beef up cybersecurity to make sure your shoppers’ personal and financial data is protected during this high-risk time of year.
Tip #5: Make the purchase process easy
Now, more than ever, your customers are ready to shop! But they’re also stressed out, with limited time and a long list of things to do. Do ‘em a solid by making it easy to buy, whenever and wherever the urge strikes.
One easy example? Give your subscribers an option to buy with every email—and promote those opportunities. Outbrain found shopping-related headlines had a 21 percent higher click-through rate than other holiday content. Simplify the hustle and bustle and you’ll keep your shoppers merry all season long!
Kevin Cundiff is Vice President of Retail for Fortegra