Make sure your online business gets a bite of the apple this Valentine’s day

valentines day image

The days of grabbing some last minute flowers from the local petrol station on the way home from work are long gone. Nowadays, Valentine’s day is seriously big business. According to statistics 180 million cards are exchanged on Valentine’s day and the average annual Valentine’s day spending is a staggering $13.19 billion.

Growth in online Valentine’s s day purchases

For the past few years UK and US online Valentine’s day sales have been grown steadily year-on-year. In the UK alone it is estimated that 1 out 3 shoppers will go online for their Valentine’s day purchase. So if you are an online business offering something that would make a great Valentine’s day gift or experience then you really can’t afford not to tap in to this lucrative seasonal surge.

Valentine’s day is not just for the chocolate and card industries

And, don’t just think Valentine’s day is only of relevance to the card, flower and chocolate industries. These days popular Valentine’s day presents are surprisingly diverse –  from jewellery to electronics, clothing to pets. Yes, pet shops take note, in the US an eye watering $367 million is spent on pets on Valentine’s day.

Take inspiration from other websites

So, what can you do as a small business to get in on the act? A good starting point is getting some inspiration from other websites. There is a great deal that can be learnt from looking at websites that have been established for a while or who have a large marketing team and budget behind them. Assessing other sites can provide you with great insight and is a good way to generate ideas – even if you have to pare them down or adapt them to meet your own business requirements. Here are a few websites that we at ShopIntegrator think do Valentine’s day well:

Valentine’s day up your online business

  • Website: Give your website a Valentine’s day feel and focus by introducing some relevant images and graphics. When customers come to your website they should immediately be able to see where your Valentine’s day selection is. Remember, customers shouldn’t have to think to hard once they’re on your website. Categorise gifts where you can and try and help customers with their purchase by inspiring them with gift ideas ‘gifts for him’,  ‘gifts for her’ ‘gifts under £25’ and so on. And, as with any seasonal deadline, make sure last shipping and delivery dates are clear for your customers to see – shoppers will not want their Valentine’s day purchases turning up after the event.
  • Special Valentine’s day offers: Used sensibly, special offers can be a good way to pull in customers. Perhaps think about motivating customers with a Valentine’s day promotion as an added incentive.  For example a small free gift with every purchase  over a certain value or introduce discount codes and sales vouchers with free shipping and delivery,  percentage off or multi-buy savings. Just remember to factor in all your costs before introducing any promotions.  Although offers may generate more sales, your profit margins could be effected.

“People who receive gift cards often spend more than the value of the card

  • Spread the word: Telling your customers about what you are doing is essential. Use all your available digital marketing tools to spread the word.  Send out Valentine’s day related emails and promote your special offers on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and  all your other social media sites. And if you have a blog then why not use it to entice customers in. Not on the High Street. com have cleverly used their blog to inspire customers and to tap into the whole Valentine’s day phenomenon with fun and relevant posts.

Plan ahead your seasonal promotions

It is important think ahead and plan for seasonal surges such as Valentine’s day. Most industries have times when sales peak. You need to identify these periods in order to ensure you maximise the opportunities they can offer your business. And remember one of the benefits of being an online business is that you have a global audience – so try to think globally and culturally. Once you identify your best seasonal periods and start examining all the possible opportunities, you’ll be surprised at just how creative you can get.

Image courtesy of Claire Bloomfield at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this post, so please do leave a comment.

Advertisements

How small online businesses can benefit from post-Christmas sales

christmas salesThink 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 comment

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at freedigitalphotos.net