In a typical year, your eCommerce business would be holding its breath until Black Friday and Cyber Monday to understand the health of your holiday sales. While it’s tempting to wait, in 2021, companies need to break away from that approach. If you wait for customers, and they wait for Black Friday, carrier capacity issues and current delays could quickly push deliveries into 2022. You want to be a joyous part of the holiday season. So, it’s time to start prepping customers and your operations to get holiday sales started now.
Holiday sales can’t wait for Black Friday
If we learned anything from peak season last year, it’s never too early to start tackling supply chain issues and preparing your audience. Your business still faces a troubled market where delays can happen at any time and from any direction. So, you want to get ahead of that as quickly as possible. The best way to start is to encourage sales right now.
Just like you have a backup plan for carriers, distribution points, and fulfillment options, you want a backup plan for your sales. We think one of the best options is to start your sales right now and work to drive traffic early. Pushing your deals immediately, instead of waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, gives you a chance to land that revenue while also having more time to fill those orders.
Communicate this to your customers. Tell them that you’re offering the same deals right now and that this is specifically to help them get presents to friends and family on time. You want messaging that discusses delays and supply chain concerns ready to go just in case, but the strategy is to ensure that you don’t need to use it.
Make it easy to save big
A core part of getting people ready to buy now is helping them overcome reasons to delay. Start by offering your biggest sales and discounts as early as possible. The sooner you can promise the ‘Black Friday deals’ — no matter how far ahead of the actual day — the better. Major brands have already started this process, including Target, Best Buy, and Walmart.
The consistent theme of their messages is that retailers are already offering the best-planned pricing of the shopping season. Waiting isn’t going to get customers a better deal, so retailers can holiday sales as soon as the customer is ready to click “buy.”
Your store can capitalize by removing barriers to these savings. Ditch coupon codes and email newsletter items for fixed discounts and savings. If you plan bonuses like fast or free shipping based on order value, make that available immediately. Reduce the number of steps or wait time required for someone to save so that they’re encouraged to shop now.
Prioritize in-stock products
You can minimize the threat to holiday sales revenue by focusing marketing and messaging on items you have in stock and ready to ship. Create campaigns and individual ads for each product you plan to offer, but adjust spending and utilization based on inventory on hand. This allows you to generate sales with as minimal supply chain delay as possible.
Customers are shopping for items that you know have a chance to arrive for the big day. If your supply chain has created a backorder situation, then you’ve got a chance to secure sales on these items after someone has reached your store and bought their desired product. ECommerce competition is higher than it has ever been. Driving traffic with goods that are out-of-stock or take weeks to import may mean a missed sale.
Repeating customers’ troubles during the 2020 holiday season could lead them to go elsewhere if you have prolonged delays. While consumers have generally been more forgiving in 2021, it doesn’t mean they’ll want to put the holiday at risk.
Try a layaway option for holiday sales
Pushing spending earlier in the year can be a concern for some audiences. Not everyone has set aside their holiday budget yet. You could be targeting people who want to buy but don’t have the cash on hand. If your audience research points to this, consider adding a layaway payment gateway to your online store.
These services enable you to offer a “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) option that customers in the U.S. have used since the Great Depression. Credit cards replaced layaway for many shoppers in the years following, but there’s been a digital resurgence. Some studies find as many as 85% of consumers are curious about these payment options. The features allow the customer to control and budget their money better, making your offer more compelling.
BNPL is proving popular with younger shoppers, too. It helps retailers reduce cart abandonment from these shoppers by targeting price constraints. When you use a feature within your eCommerce platform, like this Shopify example, you make it convenient for customers to use BNPL as well. That tackles two of the biggest cart abandonment reasons — cost and inconvenience. And that example works well because it is linked to the Shop app that lets customers track order and delivery statuses.
Build out a holiday sales communications plan
You can get customers ready to shop early but still need to plan for potential issues. No one can be sure that this holiday season will be free of errors, backlogs, carrier capacity issues, or other challenges. Instead of waiting to see what happens, you should get ready too.
Start with a communications plan designed to share delays, updates, and general information with your customers. Peak season is challenging, but a robust plan can mitigate the harm of delays or disruptions. You’ve got a few options on how to communicate with your audience. So, we’ve put together a short guide on the three most effective ways to reach out, share, and maintain a positive customer experience.