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The Road To A Successful Christmas October 23, 2014

Christmas Sales GraphChristmas is the season of opportunity.  Consumers are more motivated to buy than at any other point in the year as this graph demonstrates. Monthly retail sales between 2001 and 2012 show low sales in January which rise ’til peaking in September, after which they jump by a whopping 60% in December.

There is also a notable increase in online spend year on year. Last holiday season saw a 19.2% growth in Internet purchases from the previous Christmas, prompting economic forecasters to predict that online expenditure will reach £162bn by 2020, which represents 40% of total retail sales. What’s more, people are now going online earlier to get ahead of the seasonal rush as well as avoiding shipping delays. Which means, for a business to really benefit from the coming seasonal harvest, it must start implementing its online marketing strategy now!

This goes doubly for small businesses as, the closer it gets to the holidays, the more likely people will choose a large company as a default vendor. After all, their ubiquity affords them a high level of brand awareness leading people to choose large outlets as their last-minute shopping destination. Those likely to support small business tend to conduct such shopping early in their spending cycle, making it imperative that their attention be grabbed quickly.

These considerate consumers make up 31% of British adults who, according to a study conducted by analytics firm TGI Clickstream, plan their Christmas shopping primarily in the months of September and October. This is likely related to the newest consumer products, namely technology and fashion ranges, being released at this time. Furthermore, these individuals are big gift givers spending an average of £400 as a consequence of buying gifts for an estimated 10 people per year.

Online Purchase

How To Get ‘Em Early

Online visibility is key but competence is paramount: What I mean is, being seen online via search query or a well-placed ad is only half the battle.  The other factor is ensuring each visitor be presented with a consistent and quality experience. Conduct any site overhauls and maintenance prior to the launch of seasonal promotions. Giving a site a fresh lick of paint can also improve the user’s perception of a product’s quality, an important factor to online shoppers; 64% of which singled out prestige of item/service as being a key consideration.

Make it easy: This ties into my previous point but is worth a mention in its own right, what with 41% of early Christmas shoppers saying that convenience plays an important part in their purchasing decisions. This is the main benefit of online shopping, meaning that a faulty checkout page can cost a business a significant amount of sales. Furthermore, a good website needs to be easily navigable as bad online experience can turn users off making a purchase and/or repeat custom.   

Utilise existing consumer base: Research and common sense state that a business is more likely to sell to an existing customer than it would a new prospect. Marketing Metrics have affixed a range of 60-70% to this assertion which far outstrips the comparative chances of selling to a new customer – just 5-20%. Sending seasonal emails can really help with this endeavour, alongside gift voucher initiatives which can boost the rate of referral business and customer evangelism.

Get personal: Small businesses have the advantage of intimacy over larger companies. Consumer loyalty can be tied to how much a person empathises with a company. If someone can attribute a sense of humanity to a business they’ll likely engage in repeat custom. Creating a strong “About Us” page which lays out a company’s history and mission statement can create an instant impact. The use of personalised “thank you” emails after an online purchase can also increase the sense of affinity between the customer and business.

Focus: A good marketing strategy needs to be specific: predominately focused on a selected range of products/services which are the most likely to entice customers and give the business optimum value per order. Building a strategy tailored to a high-valued set of goods can prove the most efficient way of going about budget marketing for a small business.

The holiday season is an incredibly important period to a number of industries. Consumer goods retailers benefit from the very nature of Christmas, making a significant portion of their sales revenue during the holiday period.  Travel and hospitality services also see a seasonal bump with Christmas only being trumped by the summertime as being an optimal  vacation period. Even the cosmetic health industry enjoys an upturn, with many viewing the upcoming New Year as a thematically appropriate time to showcase a new look. Simply put, Christmas is a major tent pole in any consumer focused business so don’t let it pass your company by. Be proactive and make sure that your company is in the best position to enjoy the upcoming holiday windfall.

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