Holidays are the spikiest periods in every ecommerce sales-timeline. And, luckily, another holiday is already in the hood. But, how ready is your Shopify store?
To take advantage of the coming holidays, you’d need to do the following things:
You need to prepare for it…
You need to prepare for it ahead of time.
To get started, below are the few tips you should consider implementing on your Shopify store right away:
1. Define the target holidays to optimize your store for
There are hundreds of holidays and observances in the US alone. So, even if you’re a Fortune 100 company, it would be pretty messy to create special promotions for every single holiday event or observance. The best approach is to choose a few strategic holidays to target. And since we’re already in October, you should consider optimizing your store especially for the following holidays:
- Black Friday (usually the last Friday in November)
- Cyber Monday (usually the next Monday after Black Friday)
- Christmas (usually December 25th, although festivity may start three weeks earlier and last a week longer.)
2. Explain and organize your sales and marketing strategies
To avoid pathetic stories of woes, you’d need to iron out your holiday marketing and sales strategy ahead of time. Anything else would be like jumping in the dark. So, here are a few things to decide:
Goal and Intent – what is the exact goal you want to achieve with your coming holiday sales promotion campaign? No goal is better is better than the other. And a poor objective is way better than having no goals at all. For starters, your goal may be to reach $10,000/day in sales. Of course, that’s a pretty decent milestone which a medium sized store may aim for. But that’s if you have what it takes to pull it off
Promotion Strategy – what type of offers do you want to promote in order to reach your goal both quickly and profitably?
– Unit Discount Coupons?
– Buy One, Get One Free?
– Discounted Bundle Coupons?
– Cash Back?
– Free Shipping?
Target Audience – who do you want to reach with your offers? Is it going to be open to everyone? Or would you segment it? Maybe some offers would target new store visitors, while others would be exclusive to email subscribers, social media followers, or old customers etc. You can even create an offer to reward those who refer others to your store.
Channels of Promotion – which channels do you plan to use for your holiday sales promotion? Would you use paid adverts, influencer marketing or your existing social and email contacts? If you decide to use paid adverts, which channels would it be? Would you prefer Facebook, Twitter or Reddit? Or would it be Bing, Google Adwords or Display Network? Or, if you prefer to mix a couple of the channels, which ones would you prioritize?
Marketing Materials – based on your choice of promotion and communication channels, what types of creative are you going to use? Do you have the necessary expertise to create those images, call-to-action buttons, advert copies, email messages, and banners? If you can’t handle this personally, then, do you have someone else who can create the materials for you?
Advertising Budget – you need to be clear how much you plan to spend on the holiday sales promotion. This would be an easy decision if you’ve been using paid adverts prior to this time. But here are some tips in case you have no existing data to inform your choice.
3. Get your accounts in order
You will need cash to run a successful holiday sales program. There’s no other way around it. But chances are that you won’t be able to spend the money wisely if you don’t know what your numbers are. So here are two important account numbers to be clear about.
Monthly Cash Flow – you want to know the exact amount of money that goes in and out of your business monthly – at least for three months. You can look at this as revenue and expenditure figures. You want to pinpoint where each amount comes from and goes to. This will enable you to prioritize your expenditure, and direct more ads-spend to things that produce more revenue. This knowledge will also help you to make a clever inventory forecast in readiness for the holiday.
Maximum Unit Cost Of Sales – in other to run your holiday sales promotion wisely, you need to know the cost of each unit of product you sell. This is not just the cost of inventory, but also includes the cost of sales and distribution, plus other applicable fees. This will help you determine the maximum amount you can give out in discounts and promotions without running at a loss.
4. Refine and schedule your advertising method/channels/budget
Now that you are clear about your unit costs and cash flow, you’d need to revisit your marketing strategy and tune it up to expectation. Your aim here is to make sure that every aspect of your marketing effort is properly aligned to your objective and budget. Once that’s done, the next thing is to schedule your chosen marketing/advertising methods. You need to make sure everything is on a clear timeline.
This is also the time to assign roles and duties to your team members. These could be your virtual assistants, graphic designers, copywriters, account managers, Shopify developer and other team members that would help you make the campaign a success.
5. Prepare your inventory
It’s easy to run out of stock at the peak of the holiday sales. But you absolutely don’t want that to happen. Yet, you also don’t want to overstock your inventory unnecessarily. Thus, your historical sales data should be handy here (see tip #3). You want to make an informed inventory/stock decision that’s backed up with clear data.
You may also want to liaise with your suppliers and/or a friendly competitor to work out a win-win backup modality. This should be part of a contingency plan to cushion any shortfall you may have in your inventory during the holiday. You absolutely don’t want to piss your customers off with an “out of stock” sign, or unfulfilled orders.
Secondly, if you want to offer your products in new bundles, then this is the time to plan it out.
6. Plan for Customer Service
Holiday seasons are usually hectic. So you want to be sure you have a solid plan in place for Customer Service. You should have a live chat feature on your store. You should also consider deploying an efficient customer service system and personnel. The idea is to integrate all your channels and respond effectively to customers on all fronts – but especially the social media and email.
Plus, you should promptly review your return/refund policies. You want to be sure that everything is tuned up to help you actualize your holiday campaign objective. But be sure to also keep your customers happy throughout the process.
7. Deploy a bold list building system
Unless you raise your list building game, you will keep pouring money into adverts. And you will never maximize your ecommerce ROI potentials even during the holiday season. So, I want to assume that you already have a list building system on your store. But you really need to up the ante this holiday.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a nice guide on email marketing for ecommerce.
As I mentioned earlier, the holiday season brings a huge revenue opportunity to all ecommerce store owners. And it’s my hope that you’d maximize that opportunity in the next holiday by applying some of these tips to your Shopify store.
However, even when everything seems ready, you should be sure to add the following tips to the mix.
(I) Prepare ahead for the worst case scenario
What will you do if your store suddenly goes offline on the first day of your holiday sales? Do you know any IT personnel who would be willing to rise up to the task even in the middle of the night?
What if your supplier or shipping partner breaks down and fails to get your stuff out? What if your important media campaign and adverts go wrong? What if you run out of cash? What if your payment processor crashes? What if sales fail to come as anticipated?
You’ve probably heard folks say that it’s better to “plan for the worst and hope for the best”. So, you need to think about these things and predesign some emergency response actions. The aim is to avert or minimize the consequences of those worst-case scenarios if they eventually occur.
(II) Be sure to track every activity
Data is critical to profitable decision making in every ecommerce business. So you want to be sure that all your business activities are well tracked this holiday. The resulting data will very helpful to you after the holiday. It will also serve a solid benchmark when you plan for subsequent holiday promotions.