The holiday shopping season is the most important time of the year for many online retailers. But the weeks and even months after the holidays can be a slow period for retail ecommerce businesses. It is therefore important that Internet storeowners and marketers have a post-holiday plan to generate sales or otherwise retool the business for a new and better year.
There are many ways your business can plan for post-holiday conversions. What follows are a few suggestions.
Decide on Discounts
Any post-Christmas sales strategy should start with a goal. What is it that your online retail business wants to accomplish in the period immediately following the peak holiday selling season?
If your goal is to reduce inventory — closing out products you did not sell through during the holiday — you may need to lower prices. Similarly, if cash flow is the aim, you may be willing to sell products at a discount.
But lowering prices is not the only strategy for after-Christmas marketing. In fact, if your post-holiday goal is to maintain margins and earn a good profit, slashing prices is probably the last thing you want to do.
So as you develop a marketing and sales plan for the end of December and the beginning of January, start with a goal and a decision about whether or not your business will offer sale prices, coupons, or other discounts.
Offer More Than Low Prices
Even if it makes sense for your online retail business to discount products after Christmas, do your best not to compete on price alone.
In fact, for most ecommerce retailers, it is generally a good idea to offer services or content beyond just selling items at a price. Your ecommerce business might offer unique or hard-to-find products to do not require discounting. Or you could bundle products and services together. Or you could focus on offering strong guarantees or support after the sale.
If you decide that after Christmas you’re going to use price to attract shoppers, let the other things be the reason to keep those shoppers long term.
As you develop your after-Christmas ecommerce sales plan, look for opportunities to offer something other than just low prices. Look for ways to create long-term customer relationships.
Focus on Accessories and Complementary Products
Electronic toys need batteries. New skis require boots. A game console could use more games. In other words, online retailers may be able to generate after-Christmas profits with accessories and complementary products.
For example, an online store could segment its holiday customers, identifying those who purchased products (perhaps as a gift) that has accessories or consumables. Once those shoppers have been identified, that retail store could could focus on promoting those accessories and consumables via email or other personalized marketing.
While shoppers might be less likely to purchase new products right after Christmas, those same customers may buy the things they need to make products they already own work or work better.
For your post-holiday ecommerce sales plan, consider marketing to existing customers with offers that complement what those customers bought during the holiday season.
If you have plenty of funds available in your marketing budget, you might also try to acquire some new customers, promoting consumables or accessories at a discount via pay-per-click advertising in search engines or commercials on Pandora, Hulu, or YouTube.
Solve Customer Problems
Helping customers is always good for online retailers.
Right after the Christmas gift-giving season, shoppers will have a return problem. A new sweater might be the wrong size. An aunt purchased the wrong rod or reel. Perhaps your customer received two copies of the Rocket League game for Xbox. Your online store can make exchanging or returning products a lot easier, and you might even encourage new sales.
Make returns simple for shoppers, and give them a choice. For example, offer a free, dollar-for-dollar return or, alternatively, offer 10 percent more in store credit. So if a shopper wants to return a $50 item, that shopper can receive $50 on her payment card. But that same customer could, instead, get $55 in store credit for a purchase made in January.
Depending on your store’s margins and the products you sell, this sort of offer can be used to generate a significant amount of post-holiday revenue.
As you plan your ecommerce sales strategy, look for ways to help your customers solve some problems. Also look for opportunities to encourage sales as you address those issues.
Rest and Recover
Often the pace of ecommerce sales will slow down after Christmas, pulling down profits too. In this article I’ve made a few suggestions for a post-holiday ecommerce sales plan. But for some ecommerce businesses it may make sense to use the relatively slower period to simply focus on customer service or to rest and recover from the holiday fulfillment frenzy.
Using a slow period to improve your business (and yourself) is a strategy, too.