Yes, it’s barely midsummer, but it’s not too early to plan ahead for the holiday season. Here are eight tips to help you make the most of Cyber Monday—the peak day for online shopping, which occurs the Monday after Thanksgiving (and after Black Friday, the peak shopping day in the brick-and-mortar calendar).
- Make sure your catalog in-home dates get books in your customers’ hands before Thanksgiving so that they can browse and decide before Cyber Monday. Also make sure your in-home dates aren’t too early—more than three weeks before Cyber Monday–or your Web customers will have forgotten about your catalog by the time they’re ready to buy.
- Review your daily sales patterns of the past three years so that you can track the trend of ordering dates getting closer to Christmas. As your ordering peak days shift into December, make sure your in-home dates also shift later in the season.
- Separate your traditional call center customers and your Internet customers, and mail your Internet customers closer to their ordering sweet spot.
- Consider offering special promotions to Internet customers using dot whacks, ink-jet messages, or cover changes.
- Separate “pure” Internet buyers who’ve not received a catalog from you prior to ordering from catalog-generated Web buyers who received a catalog and placed their initial order on the Internet to further fine-tune your circulation strategies. Pure Web buyers order later, have shorter attention spans and dramatically shorter catalog life cycles, are more deal oriented, and respond far less robustly to catalog offers.
- Internet customers will comparison-shop for price. Offer them some door-buster specials to build traffic to your site. Make sure you’re not losing the price comparison battle and that your prices are where they need to be.
- Use Cyber Monday’s peak sales to quickly forecast sales to the end of your holiday season. By the end of your historical peak-shopping day you should be able to predict with good accuracy total sales through the end of December. Peak demand will also translate into total demand for the hot products and your need to reorder the holiday home runs.
- Cyber Monday will test all your back-end systems from the shopping cart to pick/pack/ship. If a system is going to break, today will be the day. So monitor your metrics and see where the systems are being stressed so that you can capture and ship every single order.
Jim Coogan is president of Santa Fe, NM-based catalog consultancy Catalog Marketing Economics.