Christmas can generate a huge amount of revenue and preparing for it can seem daunting, especially if you're an independent retailer stretched for time, or feel you don't have the expertise needed to create a plan for a successful season. For multi-channel retailers with a store and e-commerce website, it's vital to ensure your strategy integrates the two.
Plan your Christmas campaign Set a diary task to spend a half or full day to review last year's marketing efforts and how they affected sales. Plan the day away from the store so you don't get distracted.
• Decide what worked well and what didn't. You can do this by monitoring clicks on marketing emails and using your EPoS and e-commerce system to monitor sales spikes online and in store. It's also worth checking which posts worked well on social media.
• Plan the Christmas section on your website.
• Ensure your website is robust – check last year's Google Analytics. Is it scalable? If traffic spikes, will it be able to cope? If not, take action now!
Plan key dates before and after Christmas Review, refine and update on last year's campaigns. Decide on specific goals for your marketing campaign based on past performance. Here are some ideas, although you don't need to do all of them. In terms of sales, your hand may be forced on these by key multiples.
- Halloween and Bonfire Night
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday – traditionally American discount days, though in 2014 they became much more prominent and many UK retailers took part.
- Wish List – allows people to create their own Christmas wish list online that they can share with friends across multiple social media sites
- Flash Sales – decide on the main lines you could include in flash sales and what you have a lot of stock of?
- Gift Guides
- 12 Days of Christmas – a lot of retailers run a competition around this using their social media channels - Last day for online orders message
- Hero products
- Happy Christmas
- Boxing Day
- January Sales
Get your graphics ready for online including your in-store, marketing emails, website and social media. Create professional looking graphics and ensure you find out the correct dimensions for different platforms. For marketing emails, there are many tools you can use which offer templates and the dimensions needed for them, including iContact, dotmailer and Mail Chimp. Create the Christmas section on your website. Beta test it to make sure it all works correctly before it goes live.
• Start with a fireworks theme around the 5th November to launch your campaign – perhaps highlight your expected hero products for the festive season.
• Launch the Christmas section on your website following beta testing.
• Start building and testing marketing emails – create a dummy list of internal contacts to send them to. Check, check and check again! Check links, whether the 'first name' field name is working correctly, check how it opens on different platforms and that your social media links are working as well. Get them done early so you're not panicking last minute. Thoroughly checking everything will also make sure you're not left red-faced because of missed typos.
Target Early Birds
- Encourage customers to get their shopping done early – for example “Get your Christmas shopping done and dusted. Grab some early bargains and beat the rush!”
- Give consumers a sense of urgency, perhaps with your first flash sale of the season.
- Remind them there's only one payday left until Christmas or 'x' amount of days.
Your Christmas campaigns should now be in full swing. Make sure you take time to monitor your campaigns against stock levels – are you promoting the right things? Tweak marketing collateral if you need to.
If you've planned well, you can integrate all of your marketing channels – marketing emails, in store, online, and on social media. Do you have a text message service? If so, now's the time to use it! If not, SMS is a cheap way of targeting customers. You can send web links and special offers via text. It's worth trying it in a targeted way in the future. If you've planned a '12 Days of Christmas' campaign, start it now. If you're running it on social media, make sure to cross-promote it across channels. You can even ask staff to mention it to customers at point of sale.
Create a sense of urgency:
- Send out reminders of opening times and your last online order dates for Christmas – ensure these are visible on all channels.
- Promote a list of your last minute 'hero' products – which products are a sure fire hit with anyone? Boxing Day Will you be doing
Will you be doing a Boxing Day sales? If so, ensure promotions and marketing communications are ready and scheduled beforehand.
Sales, sales, sales
Start sending out your post-Christmas messages – 'Did you get what you really wanted? If not, treat yourself to it now!'
LATE JANUARY/EARLY FEBRUARY
Evaluate sales over the Christmas period
In Q, you'll be placing most of your orders so it's important that you've a tool to help you decide what you need for the following festive season.
- Create broad sales reports. Separate online and in store, and then by product category and sub-categories. Run reports for sales volume, revenues and profitability to really get a view of what's selling well and what's most profitable for you.
- Set your sales goals for the following season based on past performance
- Look at peak trading times over the festive season. Was there anything you did at that time that triggered demand?
- Understand what your competitors were up to by comparing like for like products:
Were their prices similar to yours?
Did they run any promotions on products similar to yours?
Were they doing anything that you thought was a good idea? Look at broader retailers outside of your sector as well.
- Evaluate your suppliers:
Was shipping reliable and on time?
Are they the best suppliers for your products?
Did any go above and beyond?
Do you need to look for more suppliers?
When meeting with suppliers, go armed with data, which can be exported from your EPoS system, to back up your arguments for better pricing.
Identify hero sub-categories that you think will help drive profitability
It's important to start building up your customer database now, so that when it's time to start your Christmas marketing campaigns, you've both a sizeable and accurate database of contacts ready to go. With a customer database, you should also be able to see a log of customers' transactions both in store and online.
Tactics for collecting data:
- Use a flexible system that will allow you to decide which fields you want e.g. First Name, Last Name, Email, Address and Phone Number, and also allow you to create more fields.
- Have a newsletter sign up form at point of sale.
- Run Facebook competitions using a low cost or free app such as www.woobox.com, which will allow you to collect entrants' details.
- Try not to duplicate customer data. A cloud based EPoS system helps prevent any duplication, as there's a single database across platforms.
- Following the Christmas period, when people are short on cash, is a good time to introduce or push your loyalty scheme. This will also help you to build up a customer database.
To download a free PDF of Cybertill's Guide to planning for Christmas, visit www.cybertill.co.uk/xmas-guide.
Using cloud technology, Cybertill provides a seamless retail system, including EPoS and Ecommerce applications, which helps retailers trade in store, online and across a variety of other sales channels.
T: +44 (0)800 030 4432
Date Posted: 1 September 2015
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