The final months of the year for online retailers in the UK and beyond are a huge opportunity to:
- Increase annual sales;
- Evaluate your quality of service;
- Find new staff;
- Attract new customers.
This is due to the peak period for retail, which is based on several key shopping holidays, culminating with Christmas retail planning. This has traditionally been at the heart of heightened sales activity in November and December. Though supplanted by events like Singles’ Day and Black Friday Weekend, it is still one of the single most important events that retailers must prepare for.
How to Approach Your Christmas Retail Planning
Here, we outline seven areas of Christmas peak planning online retailers should focus on to maximise these major months on the calendar.
1 – Start Christmas Marketing Early
Ideally you should start planning your Christmas marketing campaigns in September to give yourself plenty of time to identify your goals, determine what discounts and deals you will present to new and existing customers, and update the Christmas section of your website.
If you feel like you’ve missed the boat to dedicate this to your Christmas planning this year, there’s still time to make improvements. But keep this planning schedule in mind for 2019.
2 – Analyse Your Crucial Data
When preparing for Christmas, it is crucial to review last year’s figures in great detail. This gives e-commerce companies a guide on what sells well and what won’t, when you experienced the most activity, how much stock you’ll need at certain times, where to offer discounts, and much more.
Refer to your sales figures in recent years leading into the peak period, as it will indicate which products you should build your strategy around for the latest shopping spree. It’s also effective to monitor your competitors’ actions to see what’s working for them and what you can do to set your business apart.
Finally, review data relating to business operations, customer feedback and website behaviour to pinpoint areas where you can improve your approach to Christmas retail planning.
3 – Prepare Your Stock Levels
If your inventory is prepared poorly and several popular items are out of stock in a hurry, then you risk losing prospective and existing customers to those who are better prepared.
Analysing your sales last year and in the months leading up to this event should help gauge how many items you require. But do consider adding a little extra in the belief that e-commerce activity will continue to rise. Finally, stay in regular contact with your suppliers (and possibly arrange a back-up) to prevent shortages from leaving any lasting damage.
4 – Test Your Website
A key component for e-commerce companies entering the Christmas retail rush is the capabilities of their website, so don’t leave this to chance. Global online transactions in November and December 2017 were 80% higher compared to that year’s average, and it is crucial your website can capably handle this rise is visitors without slowing down or, the worst-case scenario, your e-commerce site crashing at a crucial moment.
Early in your Christmas planning, test your website can handle a substantial increase in volume. Plus, as mobile e-commerce becomes increasingly prevalent, there is little excuse for online retailers to not have a fully mobile optimised website to accommodate these customers.
5 – Staff for Holiday Shopping
Most high-street retailers in the UK will take on significant numbers of temporary staff over the final months of the year. This is also something that online retailers need to consider at Christmas, whether it’s for customer support, marketing, website management or deliveries.
6 – Confirm Your Christmas Delivery Service
Christmas is crazy for deliveries, with UK retailers predicted to have dispatched over 330 million orders in November and December 2017. Ensuring your service runs as smoothly at this time of year as all other times can be a challenge, which is why it’s crucial to work with an international delivery partner with plenty of experience managing this hectic period.
It’s important to consider your customers’ expectations for deliveries at Christmas too – price is decisive at this time, meaning you should offer shoppers a free option over a certain spending limit if possible. Plus, find ways to make the experience familiar and secure for consumers, such as reliable tracking, personalised labelling and recognisable final mile delivery partners.
Finally, even if your current delivery partner seems capable and experienced, you may still require additional support handling an influx of Christmas shopping. If this is a potential scenario, arrange a contingent carrier early to build a good working relationship and give you a hand during the most turbulent moments.
7 – Don’t Stop at Christmas
The seventh and final step of preparing for Christmas is one online retailers shouldn’t ignore – don’t make 25th December your end goal. While it might be tempting to catch your breath and ease your way into the New Year, it is actually the days after Christmas when December sales reach their peak.
Therefore, it’s essential you don’t sleep on the potential of the January sales. Do this by extending your Christmas marketing campaign planning to the early weeks of January and maintaining your links to additional delivery partners and temporary staff a little longer.
Deliver a Merry Christmas with P2P
Hopefully these seven steps will help you approach Christmas retail planning with complete composure.
If you have identified your delivery options as a concern when preparing for Christmas, P2P can offer an innovative choice of tracked, untracked and express services to help you efficiently and reliably reach your customers overseas. Our experience and support ensures every corner is covered, even during the peak period of the year.
Whether you are looking for a dependable long-term delivery partner or a contingent carrier to support your Christmas planning, get in touch and talk to our logistics experts today.