For retail ecommerce marketers, the time to think about an after-holiday sales event is before the season’s peak. Having a plan can encourage sales during a traditionally slow month, preserve margin, and free up cash.
Typically, an online merchant won’t know per-item sales until after the peak Christmas season — but it is possible to have a framework in place to boost January revenue.
There are at least three reasons a business might want to run a post-holiday promotion.
- Boost January revenue. For many retail businesses, the first quarter, especially January, can feel either like a nice rest or a brick wall. The peak selling season has ended, and customers are spent out. Revenue is scarce.
- Earn profit. Despite lower volume, merchants still need to earn a profit. Buy-now-pay-later style offers could encourage purchases and maintain margins.
- Clear out inventory, free-up cash. Closing out seasonal merchandise, even at a per-unit loss, opens up space on the shelves and generates cash.
Tips for Success
There is not a single path for an after-Christmas sales event, but there are common approaches.
Here are five things to consider as you plan your company’s January retail promotions.
Have a goal. As with any marketing initiative, start with a goal. Do you want to move excess inventory? Increase January sales by a certain percentage? Maintain margins on clearance items?
For example, your first option to purge excess inventory might be to bundle all your leftover products and have a wholesale auction, avoiding the retail channel completely.
Segment customers. Once you have a goal, consider which customer segments will likely help achieve it.
To move a lot of inventory quickly, consider targeting your best buyers with door-buster-style deals sent via personalized email messages. But if you’re looking to increase January revenue without sacrificing margin, promoting to your less active buyers with coupons or free shipping offers could be more effective.
You might also contemplate customer segments and the channel they use the most to interact with your store. Could you create an offer for your text messaging list or Twitter followers?
Consider the timing and message. The timing of your promotion is important both for practical and psychological reasons.
For example, you might want to start your sale on December 26 to get a jump on the competition. But customers may not be in a spending mood then. It depends on your audience.
Alternatively, you could target a December 26 sale for self-gifting. The message could be, “Didn’t get what you wanted this Christmas? Here is your opportunity.”
Take deep discounts early. It may seem counterintuitive, but if your goal is to move a lot of inventory, consider offering the deepest discounts early if you have the margin.
Here’s the logic. Consumers interested in clearance-level deals are also likely to be deal-seekers who pay attention to the market. If you offer too much discount later in the promotion, these customers will likely wait it out. But if you start with a bang, you can create a sense of urgency that drives conversions.
That approach could also shorten the sales period. You can achieve your goal quickly instead of dragging it out.
Learn from past events. Has your company run after-Christmas sales events in prior years? Look at past performance. Which products sold well? What were the most popular discounts? When did prospects start losing interest? How was the sales velocity? And how did the offer impact operations?
Use historical info to inform your planning for this year. If last year’s sale was a flop, change things up. If it was a big success, replicate the formula.