Think ahead to the post-Christmas sales
Retailers have been predicting very healthy sales in the run up to Christmas this year, perhaps no more so than online where research forecasts a 20% increase year-on-year.
“Online sales are forecast to hit £5bn this Christmas, an increase of almost 20% on last year, while total sales over the festive season will top £40bn, a rise of 3.5% on 2012, according to forecasts from Deloitte where forecast for online sales are up 20%” Guardian Business News
In the excitement and frenzy that is all part and parcel of Christmas, it can be hard to think ahead to the post-Christmas sales. However, it is important that small businesses are prepared for the post-Christmas sales period before they go off on their Christmas break. Unprecedented growth and increased access to mobile devices, has seen the traditional ‘January Sales’ shift to December as people go online earlier and earlier to grab a post-Christmas bargain. According to research from Econsultancy, last Christmas saw Boxing day as the busiest in terms of traffic and sales through mobile phones peak on Christmas day.
Benefits of post-Christmas sales for small businesses
Post-Christmas sales are an opportunity to clear seasonal stock, excess stock and unwanted stock. It is also a great time to capture bargain hunters and people with Christmas gift vouchers that they are itching to spend!
In addition, research shows that the average order value increases post-Christmas. Econsultancy found that last year people were adding higher priced items and more products to their baskets after Christmas than in the lead up to Christmas. As a consequence they found that the Average Order Value (AOV) increased. Last year January 1st saw the peak with an AOV of £77.69.
Be prepared – plan your post-Christmas sales before Christmas
With the Christmas sales starting earlier each year, it is important that you are as organised as you can be before Christmas. This way you are ready to press the button to go live as soon as you need to be. Being prepared beforehand allows you to enjoy your Christmas break and not lose valuable shopping hours. So think about:
- Stock – What stock do you plan to offer deals on? For example identify what stock hasn’t been shifting as well as expected in the run up to Christmas and stock you have excess of that you would like to be rid-of. Think about your pricing. It is important you know what your product margins will be now you are offering products at a lower rate.
- Website – prepare your website so it is ready to go live for the post-Christmas sales. Make it clear on the home-page that you are having a sale. Your sale items should be listed clearly up front so they are easy for people to find. Many online retailers list their biggest discounted products at the top to entice consumers in. For example see Boden’s online sale where the highest percentage discounts are listed first.
- Shipping and Delivery – plan your shipping and delivery ahead. Remember you are selling your stock at reduced prices so your profit margins are going to be lower. Factor in shipping and delivery costs when you are working out your discounts. For example using free delivery or reduced rate delivery as an enticement may not be a viable option as you may end up selling at a loss.
Tips for your promotions.
Just like your website, get your promotional communications designed and ready before Christmas. This way you’ll be able to send out promotions to customers the minute your sale goes live.
Use all your online tools to spread the word to your customers – there is no point in having a sale if your customers remain unaware of it. Email your customers with news of your sale, enticing them in with a showcase of your top offers. Announce your sale and special offers on all your social media platforms.
Use a ‘drip marketing’ technique for the duration of the sale period. This is where you can plan a series of sequential communications to coincide with the relevant offers you have planned. For example send out a series of strategically timed communications that will pull customers into your website for the entire post-Christmas sales period:
Sale now on
Up to 40% off
New lines added
Up to 50%
Last chance to grab a bargain
Sale extended for a few days only
Sale ends midnight tonight
The post-Christmas sales can be a profitable time for your small business as long as you plan ahead and spend some time thinking strategically about what you are going to do. This way you’ll hopefully be able to increase your sales and AOV, get rid of unwanted and excess stock and avoid any of the nasty surprises associated with lower profit margins.
We’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this post, so please do leave a commentImage courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at freedigitalphotos.net