There’s still time to maximize your holiday retail strategy—and this year, it needs to include an online component. In today’s guest post, Internet entrepreneur Luke Knowles shares his success tips for fine-tuning your holiday marketing plan.
Deloitte Development LLC announced it anticipates total holiday sales will rise 2.5 to 3 percent from November to January. That forecast includes a 14 percent increase in non-store (i.e., Internet) sales. Clearly, new technology needs to be a major part of any retailer’s holiday sales strategy. Here are a few points to help develop a cohesive plan.
1. Provide Online Coupons If you’re still stuck in the newspaper-insert or direct-mail rut, it’s time to start thinking about online coupons. More than 88 million consumers (47 percent of Internet users) planned on using online coupons in 2011. Retailers should look to couponing hubs for fast and targeted distribution to a wider audience.
When crafting your coupon, remember consumers look for such specific deals as a percentage or dollar off each purchase. The average face value of coupons in 2010 was $1.46, with an expiration date typically of 10.1 weeks.
2. Be Tablet Accessible According to the Wall Street Journal, the average consumer who uses an iPad or other tablet to visit a retailer’s website makes a purchase 4 to 5 percent of the time. That compares favorably to the 3 percent of conversions by those who use a laptop or desktop computer. Many merchants also report tablet shoppers spend more on average, sometimes 10 to 20 percent more.
3. Mobilize Thanks to the ubiquitous status of smartphones, more merchants are including mobile marketing in the mix. According to a study released in January by ForeSee Results, 11 percent of visitors to top e-retailer sites made a purchase using their phones during the holiday rush. That’s a year-over-year increase of 2 percent.
One easy way for a small merchant to participate in this revolution is the RedLaser app, which allows consumers to comparison shop and find product information from their mobile phones using state-of-the-art scanning technology. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in participating.
4. Offer Free Shipping…Even for One Day Consumers have come to expect free shipping deals for online purchases. While you’ll want to prominently promote any such offer on your website, participating in Free Shipping Day is the best and fastest way for small businesses to gain widespread attention and increase traffic over the holidays. Scheduled for Friday, Dec. 16, the one-day event promotes free shipping offers for delivery by Christmas Eve from thousands of merchants. To participate in Free Shipping Day, complete the merchant sign-up form.
5. Narrow Your Selections Focus on your bestsellers as these key items are likely to drive your business in December. This means you’ll have to shift from offering a full assortment to being narrow and deep.
6. Create a Detailed Purchasing Plan For the rest of the season, you need to plan quantities, delivery dates, vendors, etc. The more ducks you have in a row, the more attention you’ll draw this year and, hopefully, next.
7. Start Now! According to an article in USA Today, a National Retail Federation study found 37 percent of consumers planned on beginning their holiday shopping before Halloween. As a result, you’ll have to compete against major merchants already rolling out their Christmas campaigns. Shoppers can procrastinate; you can’t.
Luke Knowles is an Internet entrepreneur and founder of Kinoli Inc., a small business located in Windsor, Colorado.