Ask anyone who sells online when their favorite time of year is, they’ll probably pick a date somewhere in those three golden months between the start of October and the end of December.
Why? In the US 32% of online sales occur in the last three months of the year, and on average 38% more sales volume occurs during Q4 than any other quarter of the year.
With these figures in mind, it’s safe to say that this is one of if not the most important times of the year for any online seller, so we’ve put together this six-part series to get all our super sellers ready for a bumper end to the year.
To begin with, we’ll be looking at the sales days and holidays from the beginning of October through Cyber Monday before exploring December and the Christmas rush in Part #2.
It might be the smaller of the sales months, but in many regards it is the most important. Why? Because October is your last chance to get ready for the online shopping frenzy that awaits just around the corner.
Whilst there are still some smaller regional sales days to take advantage of, for the most part October is a time to cement your marketing plans, ensure your supply ability is up to your sales forecasts and finalize your planning for the peak to come.
Where: USA and Global
When: 31st of October
A mainstay of the US holiday season, Halloween is picking up steam across the world and becoming an increasingly global event.
Of course, if you’re selling candy, costumes, decorations or gift cards you don’t need to be sold on the importance of this holiday. However, even sellers with no Halloween specific products to sell can take advantage of the trick or treat season.
- Running special Halloween promotions in the lead up to the day, hosting your own Halloween themed sales day and incorporating Halloween themed design elements to your storefront are just a few of the many ways you can market your brand in October.
- If you aren’t selling in any of the typical categories associated with Halloween, you might even consider including a free Halloween gifts with purchases in October to help aid in conversion and create memorable, positive customer interactions. It could be something as simple as sourcing some Halloween candy with your branding, putting a Halloween twist on one of your cheaper items or even bundling ‘discounts’ on your products as gift cards to another retailer that does specialize in Halloween wares.
This is when sales really start heating up. Not only do people begin sourcing their Christmas gifts early providing a steady upward curve of sales throughout the month, November also features the most glorious four day stretch in the ecommerce calendar – Black Friday through to Cyber Monday.
Aside from the big sales days, big things to watch out for are inventory levels and fulfilment times – you don’t want to be running low or falling behind this close to the finish line so you should be constantly checking your forecasts with actual sales and constantly monitoring all of your relevant logistics metrics.
Anticipating changes in consumer behaviour during the early weeks of November is also a must – with the Thanksgiving and Christmas sales peaks around the corner you can expect a lot of ‘just browsing’ traffic; you may even see a spike in traffic to your site or marketplace listings bigger than your sales spike.
This is all to be expected. Customers interested in your products might be holding out for Black Friday/Cyber Monday or might be sniffing out early gift ideas for Christmas. Even if they don’t convert on their first or second visit, you don’t want them to forget about you when they do open their wallets.
Clever remarketing is key here, and you should be redefining your audience segments to try and catch this behaviour. Stretch out your remarketing list membership windows, update your remarketing creative for the relevant sales days and double down on your remarketing spend from the end of November through to Christmas cut-off to ensure your marketing presence is felt throughout the customer journey.
If you’re running a Black Friday or Christmas promotions, start promoting early and try to not only build your remarketing audiences, but also capture some hard email leads; a quick popup asking for an email address or social media follow to be updated when an upcoming sale goes live is a great way to start building your sales day audience ahead of time.
Where: USA and Global
When: Friday, 23rd of November
With scenes of chaos across the United States becoming a regular news fixture the day after Thanksgiving, more and more shoppers are going online to get their Black Friday shopping fix and revenue from online sales keeps breaking records year after year.
Black Friday is set to be bigger than ever this year, not just in the US but around the world where more and more countries have adopted the fourth Thursday in November as a yearly sales binge.
Whilst the physical retailers that birthed the sales event have to wait till after turkey day to start their sales, more and more online retailers are skipping the midnight kick-off altogether and launching price promotions on or even before Thanksgiving making an early start an essential for sellers in 2018.
With only the two days of the weekend separating Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the status-quo in recent years has been to roll the two into one big five-day sales bender starting Thursday and finishing up Monday night.
Be mobile ready – last year 66% of purchases on Black Friday where made on mobile devices up 8% from the previous year and you can expect that trend to continue.
- Have boots on the ground all day, monitoring sales, answering questions and optimizing your marketing channels.
- With traffic and search volume going through the roof and conversion rates to match, you will need to be checking your bids and performance metrics for any paid marketing channels as you go to make sure budgets aren’t running out, traffic isn’t being lost and opportunities aren’t being missed.
- Bring something to the table. If you want significant sales uplift, you’ll need to offer something worthy of the day whether it’s price promotion, bundling or free-shipping; It’s a sales day – you need to have a sale.
- If you have emails, now’s the time. Let people know when you’re starting your sale and what your most compelling offers are. If your setup is sophisticated enough, personalization can work wonders on a day like this; sending people an email to let them know the product that they’ve been looking at all week is on special is going to work a lot better than a generic blast. However you do it, having an email marketing plan for Black Friday is essential for sales success.
- Track, record and monitor everything you do – those insights will be invaluable this time next year.
- If you’re an Amazon seller, apply early to get products on lightning deals, be prepared to discount your products, bid up on your Sponsored Products campaigns and get your inventory into FBA well ahead of time – you can expect delays on products being checked into fulfilment centres all through Q4.
Where: USA and Global
When: Monday, 25th of November
Black Friday is great, but for online sellers this is the big one and last year was the biggest day for online sales in the US ever with $6.59 billion going through the digital coffers.
It might be the more recent addition to the holiday sales calendar, but just like it’s older sibling Black Friday it’s only getting bigger year after year and spreading around the world to become a truly global sales event.
Mobile sales aren’t as dominant as on Thanksgiving and Black Friday thanks to a higher proportion of workers back at their desks, but it’s still on the rise so mobile readiness is a must.
Like most sales days, Cyber Monday is spilling over into adjacent days. More and more sellers are starting the party early and leaving late so have a plan to capitalize on the increased traffic that might still drop by your online store or marketplace listings Tuesday and beyond.
- Just like Black Friday, monitor, optimize on the fly, offer something truly special for your customers and be well prepared on Amazon.
- Finish with a bang by keeping a promotion or discount up your sleeve for Cyber Monday to distinguish it from the preceding days and give your customers a reason to come back for another round.
- Have a plan for cart abandonment and consider extending any promotional offers for those customers who have added discounted products to cart but haven’t converted.
December, Christmas and January Recovery!