The big 3 are right around the corner – Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day.
Here’s our guide to making the most of the silly season madness.
For many sellers, the period between Black Friday and Boxing Day can account for as much as 30% of annual sales, so the last thing you want to happen is running out of stock. Forward thinking sellers take this into account and start planning early, making sure you’ve got your orders in with your suppliers well ahead of time.
- Many suppliers lead times will increase for orders in the back quarter of the year so be sure to chat with your supplier well ahead of time and leave plenty of
- Order big – November to December is not the time of year to run out of stock so forecast for a big sales uplift. Use previous years as a benchmark but don’t forget to factor in your current year-on-year sales growth plus a little extra to account for the projected growth of sales figures across the silly season.
- Don’t forget about January – a lot of sellers forecast for a big end to the year with the holiday season and order up plenty of extra stock, but don’t forget to get your order enough so that you can keep the ball rolling into the new year.
Focus on the Whole Sales Period – Not Just The Three Big Days
Shoppers go nuts for the entire period from the end of October through to Boxing Day – the combination of gifts, end of year bonuses and a run of sales days results in over 60 consecutive days of open wallets, so plan to maximise every single one of them. Run sales, promotions and marketing activity at an increased rate over the entire period rather than just focusing on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day. Sure you might sell 5 times more on those days than usual, but any given day across November and December can double the volumes you’d get earlier in the year so don’t let sales day myopia prevent you from maximising your Q4 returns.
- Keep your sales going after Cyber Monday – just because a customer missed out on Monday doesn’t mean they won’t come back later.
- Run promotions and sales throughout December that take advantage of Christmas gift shoppers.
Mind your Margins
Everyone loves to post big revenue numbers to wrap up the year, but don’t sacrifice profit for revenue by getting too competitive on your sales; lower prices means more sales but it also means smaller margins. Before cutting your price on any product think about how many extra units you will have to sell to make it worth while.
- Successful online selling is all a numbers game – don’t wait until the new year to realise your sales were all revenue and no profit – keep a close and vigilant eye on your profit margins throughout Q4.
- Run margin calculations on your products throughout the course of your sale to determine how much profit your making. If you’re selling more units but making less profit bring the price back up or end the promotion.
- Identify your loss-leaders or end-of-line products – it may be in your interest to sacrifice margin on some products to move through old stock or bring new customers into your ecosystem, but make sure its strategic.
Don’t Blow Your Marketing Budget
For most of the year, and after a little hard work with initial setup and optimisation, your paid marketing channels (Search, Display and Paid Social) will run smoothly and profitably without too much need for tweaking. Q4 however is a different beast, and with the mad rush of customers ready to buy stuff online comes a mad rush of advertisers ready to buy up display inventory, search keywords and social media placements. The cost-metrics in your auction based paid marketing channels will be flipped on their head, so you’ll need to be at the top of your game with optimisations and oversight.
- Check your PPC bids and performance daily to make sure your paid ads remain competitive whilst still running with a profitable ROI.
- Consider things like seasonality of your products and average order value that may impact your sales during the holiday season.
- A long-tail keyword strategy using your knowledge of the industry and a little extra keyword research to find holiday specific search terms will help you to move out of the overly competitive generic keyword auctions.
Understand Your Customer
Whilst a Q4 uplift in sales is typically seen across the board, different product categories and niches will benefit in different ways from the end of year peak. Before mapping out your end of year sales and promotional calendar, take the time to consider how your brand will perform differently from others and how your products will be influenced by seasonality. A 10% off everything Christmas promotion in the weeks leading up to Christmas makes sense if you’re selling children’s toys, but would a similar promotion be as sensible for someone selling replacements parts for refrigerators? Probably not.
Here are a few of the different product types and what considerations should be made for them:
- Gifts peak – If you have a product suitable for gifting you’ll find your sales increasing daily right up until your Xmas delivery cutoff. Running themed promotions and offering things like delivery guarantees and gift-wrapping will help coax the customer through the decision making process. More than any other sellers Q4 is a season of three sales months, not three sales days, so have strategy in place to maximise every minute.
- High-end peak – If your product comes with a high price-tag, then you’ll want to hover closer to the big sales days where people are coming online ready to spend big to save something off the top of an otherwise hefty price-tag. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big for people looking for deals on everyday items, but Boxing day is more oriented toward people looking to spoil themselves. Maybe they’ve gotten a nice Christmas bonus, or feel like they deserve a treat after being generous with others the day before. Either way, Boxing Day is where you should be focusing your promotional energy.
- Generic products peak – If you’re selling something on the mundane side of things, like chopping boards or plain white socks, then you might want to look toward the big sales days and reel in shoppers with unbeatable prices. Even if your product isn’t suitable for gift giving, the massive influx of gift shoppers at the end of the year can easily be distracted if they see a good price on an everyday item.