Alex Melone
Alex Melone 13 December 2023

Top E-Commerce Trends For The Holiday Season

It’s that time of the year when people stare at each other in disbelief and ask everyone around them where the year went. For you, however, it’s the exact opposite. Because, like all your competitors, you’ve hopefully been planning for the holiday season since January. If not, don’t fret, because there is still time to capitalise on post-Black Friday sales opportunities. Here’s your basic checklist to ensure that your Christmas promotions yield the best ROI possible.

With rising inflation pressuring household budgets, it’s a safe bet that consumers have already marked their calendars to grab a good deal. With nearly a trillion pounds in online sales generated globally in 2022, your business simply can’t afford to miss out.

Christmas Sales In a Nutshell

This period between now and the end of the year is a prime opportunity to increase revenue, move stock, and grow your customer base. It’s important to remember that Christmas promotions should run on the dates leading up to 25 December - then an extended promotion can be run on Boxing Day.

The use of “Christmas” has fallen out of favour in recent years, with more generic, inclusive wording being used during the holidays. 

Important Statistics:

  • Online sales are projected to reach a £30 billion in the UK.

  • The UK outranks Europe in terms of total retail spend. 

  • Total retail spend over the Christmas period is estimated to be nearly £80 billion in the UK.

  • Mobile and email take the lead in terms of sales generated.

Planning Your Calendar

The figures above point to three key factors:

  1. Shoppers are already planning to capitalise on festive promotions for their holiday gifting and post-Christmas purchases. 

  2. Many will be looking for exclusive deals to beat the rush. 

  3. You should be putting most of your efforts into online and mobile. 

Now you can use the following timelines to plan your promotions accordingly:

Early Sales

With SMS and email, customers will have subscribed to your business. Ideally, you’ll already have a list of preferred contacts, usually referred to as VIPs.

These VIPs are usually first in line for exclusive deals and, by offering them early access to Christmas and Boxing Day deals, you’re rewarding them for their loyalty and support. 

Standard practice is to roll out your early promotions about two weeks in advance of the general sale. By the time the general public gains access to deals, your VIPs will have already received the following:

  • Early sale announcement

  • Sale reminder

  • Urgent sale reminder

  • Last chance notification

Don’t forget to highlight the exclusivity of these early sales. While discount codes are an option, it’s recommended that VIP customers gain access via a dedicated URL from their email or SMS. 

Main Sale

As your VIPs near the end of their early sale, you’ll start teasing the main sale to the general public and those outside your VIP contact list. The sending order will be mostly the same as your early access, with the addition of an extended sale:

  1. Sale announcement

  2. Sale reminder

  3. Urgent sale reminder

  4. Last chance notification

Usually, the main sale will require a once-off discount code that will be added at checkout. You can also promote free items with specific purchases, or do BOGO (Buy One, Get One) deals on certain items, depending on what it is you sell.

Extended Sale

With most customers being bombarded with Christmas and Boxing Day deals, it’s easy for your campaign to get lost in the clutter. By extending your sale by a day or three, you give buyers a second chance to save and you avoid getting lost in someone’s inbox. 

Be sure to highlight the time limit here with a sense of urgency throughout. A countdown banner usually encourages customers to act. As well as adding these to your website, you can add countdown banners to your email campaigns, too. 

Be Prepared

As any experienced marketing agency will point out, Christmas promotions can be a golden opportunity to turn a business around or boost sales. While a good marketing agency will have already planned out a client’s Christmas calendar, it’s often the client who gets caught off guard. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Ensure your site is prepared for heavy traffic. Having your servers crash in the middle of a Boxing Day sale can be disastrous. 

  2. Do you have enough stock? Products will (ideally) fly off the shelf, so you must be able to meet demand. 

  3. Prepare standby messaging - When something goes wrong, you’ll want an appropriate message on hand to quickly notify customers. Think of a few potential hiccups and have your messaging ready to send.

  4. If time allows, it’s always good to test offers beforehand on your site. 

  5. Schedule enough time for your copy, design, and coding teams to craft messaging that’s easy to navigate and really highlights the offer. 

  6. For emails, you can resend your original designs with refreshed subject lines to generate more sales and give those who haven’t opened the campaigns another chance to shop. 

Be sure to speak to your marketing department or agency ahead of time to ensure your customers enjoy a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience. 

Remember, your customers expect you to be far better prepared for the holiday sales than they are - and that’s saying something. 

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