How Online Retailers Should be Preparing for Christmas 2017

The sun may only just be reappearing and beachwear promotions rolling out, but for online retailers it’s never too early to begin thinking about Christmas. It may not be until November when sales really take-off, but every year Christmas seems to come earlier. The first consumers usually start to make purchases for the festive season in September.

In order for online retailers to experience a successful Christmas in 2017, it is advisable to begin preparing in a few ways sooner rather than later. From arranging parcel delivery and sorting out stock levels, to planning promotions, there are many ways online retailers should be preparing for Christmas 2017.

Choose a Delivery Partner
As an online retailer, you may already have a delivery company you work with for everything from national to international parcel delivery. Around Christmas you should hopefully have an increase in orders, requiring more little and large parcel delivery. Therefore, you may need to enlist the services of an extra delivery company or larger one which can comfortably deal with getting thousands of orders to their destination on time and intact.

Choosing a delivery partner now allows you to build the relationship in good time, increasing trust, which will be beneficial come the busy period. Our parcel delivery service is comprised of a huge network, offering letters, packages and large parcel collection and delivery for online retailers.

Review Last Christmas
The next thing to do will be reviewing and analysing sales data from last Christmas. Online Christmas sales were up 19% in 2016 compared to the year before, with plenty of ecommerce companies performing well. Looking back through sales data will show which products were popular, when the busiest periods were and what performed less well.

A good idea can be to check web traffic for the months of November and December. This can highlight any increases in volume, showing what customers were searching for, what worked and other areas to target in the future. As it will be the busiest period too, it is worth testing your site and hosting package to ensure it will be able to cope with extra traffic.     

Prepare Stock Levels
Along with slow or late parcel delivery, one of the most frustrating things for customers is finding what they want to order is out of stock. Especially around Christmas time when they will be in urgent need of presents quickly, this can turn them off using your site to make future purchases.

There are a few considerations to make to adequately prepare Christmas stock levels:

  • Review the best-selling and most viewed products from last Christmas on your site.
  • Assume sales will increase this year, ordering in extra to meet a (hopefully) growing demand.
  • Focus on popular products throughout the rest of the year, as these will likely remain so, especially if they work well as gifts.
  • Predict key sellers for Christmas 2017, based on upcoming trends and market reports, to keep up with or stay ahead of competitors.  
  • Keep in regular contact with suppliers to nip any problems at the source. Have a back-up on hand too, in the event of an emergency.


Plan Staffing
To deal with the increase in sales and customer enquiries, staffing levels will also be higher in the run up to and over Christmas. Most high-street retailers take on temporary, seasonal staff to deal with increased demand, and to make the process as smooth as possible this should be the case with online retailers as well.
Start thinking about staff for all areas now, from those who will be in charge of marketing for Christmas to others taking care of the business delivery service. It’s likely you will receive more customer enquiries, with consumers requiring their orders on time to have their gifts ready. More staff to answer calls, emails and track orders will ease the process.  

Create a Christmas Marketing Calendar
As the first Christmas shoppers usually begin buying from September onwards, it’s good to have a marketing plan in action before this. With around four months to go until then, putting one together now will give you plenty of time to tweak it. The calendar should run until January, allowing time to cover pre and post-Christmas sales.

It should include:

  • Black Friday (online sales increased by 25% in 2016 in the UK), Cyber Monday, Christmas week and January sales
  • Social media activity
  • Marketing to drive traffic to your website – Doordrop Media, Direct Mail and Email marketing
  • Chosen promotions (based on previous and forecast trends)
  • PPC and SEO, along with re-targeting

Putting together a plan to hit all these areas should help boost your Christmas sales. It can be worth hiring additional marketers to ensure it is a strong plan. 


Begin focusing on these points to ensure your online retail business is well prepared for Christmas 2017.     

 

 

Image courtesy of iStock.