Marketing & Advertising

Holiday Ecommerce Promotions to Prepare in September

In “2013 Holiday Ecommerce Preparedness Checklist,” we addressed tasks to do now for the holiday rush. This article adds a few ideas that are more customer and marketing centric.

Create New Categories

Create a few different gift categories that can be promoted at different times. Consumers look for new ideas, especially for those friends and relatives who already have many things.

You may want to organize your categories by a type of product, by price, by target customer, or some other logical schema based on the products you sell. You may also want to have a special category for “last minute gifts” or “stocking stuffers” that you promote as the holidays are closer.

Promote the new categories aggressively during key shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As you create these gift categories, plan for additional inventory as most online retailers see great success when promoting these types of products.

One thing I like about gift ideas is that you usually do not have to discount the products. Part of your service to the consumer was finding these and making them easily available to your shoppers. You may even want to write some new descriptions about how they are ideal gifts.

Create Gift Baskets as New Items

Do you sell items that are related or could be bundled together? Why not create a gift basket that includes all those related items? Creating a new SKU in your shopping cart and market it as a single item. This will reduce the need to list individual prices that encourage comparison shopping. It will also make it easy to add to the shopping cart and increase your conversion rate.

You can always attach some type of promotional shipping to your gift baskets such as “Free Shipping for your Entire Order,” adding even more value to the gift.

By selling a gift basket, you will likely increase the size of your order. An example might be if you sell iPhone covers. Why not add a pair of headphones and a screen protector to the bundle? Or, if you sell kitchen utensils, add a counter storage container to the bundle.

Wish Lists and Sharing

If you don’t already have a wish list in your store, consider adding one. Make sure your customers have a way to share their wish list with friends directly from your store. This will help gift buyers find the correct item and make it more likely they will purchase from your store and not a competitor.

There are many new social shopping sites as well. Consider setting up a gift store in Wanelo. Items that are liked on Wanelo will be visible to all the other people who follow that person’s profile.

Loyalty Rewards

In my previous online business, we always created a promotion this time of year to encourage shopping through the entire holiday season. We offered a 10 to 15 percent discount on all single purchases more than a specified amount through the end of the year. We would then modify the customer profile to extend that discount automatically through the end of the year. This also can be done with a coupon code.

We also enrolled these customers in our loyalty program and emailed them special incentives throughout that period. We found that this encouraged additional purchases and that most of those customers continued to purchase from us going forward.

There are many possible loyalty programs. Be creative and think of something that will appeal to your customers and give it a try. The goal is to keep them engaged with you as long as they are in a “buying mode.” Discounts do provide that incentive, especially when there is no work involved. Be sure to remind them that they have the discount with your personalized emails and social promotions.

Offer Gift Wrapping

Many global retailers have set a new standard by offering gift wrapping for a set fee. Since so many online shoppers desire this service for convenience, this will add a great incentive to purchase from your store. It will add some overhead to your fulfillment process, but you can charge a few dollars per package to recoup some of the cost.

It will set your store apart and encourage orders that can be shipped directly to the gift recipient. This is another reason to purchase from your store.

Offer a Deal on Expedited Shipping

With free shipping commonplace and Amazon Prime setting a new standard for customer delivery, nearly all merchants need to offer some type of expedited shipping options. Consider next day, two day, and standard delivery options. Since you are likely offering some type of incentive that includes a free shipping option, why not offer a similar incentive to reduce the cost of expedited shipping?

Also, analyze your shipping costs. See if you can find an option that will facilitate 2-day shipping for something like $10 rather than the $15 to $20 that you might normally pay. This option is especially important as you get near the holidays. Customers want guaranteed and trackable deliveries. Be sure to look at the new USPS Priority Mail options as many of those are not offered with guarantees. USPS also has good pricing for flat rate boxes.

Promote, Promote, Promote

Once you create these various options, promote them. Be sure there are links from your shopping cart, home page, emails, and social media sites. Create your graphics for the promotions now so they are ready to go as needed.

Dale Traxler
Dale Traxler
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