Note: As October closes and the countdown begins in earnest to Black Friday, MarketLive will present 12 top holiday tips for maximizing sales during the upcoming season. Here’s Tip #1.
Halloween isn’t even over yet, but the holiday season has most definitely begun. While consumers may complain about “holiday creep”, they’re also getting shopping done early — and merchants should help them along.
Shoppers are starting their holiday purchasing earlier this year than they did in 2014. Fully 61% of participants in the MarketLive/E-Tailing Group’s 2015 Consumer Shopping Survey predicted they would start their shopping by now, compared with 56% last year.
Happily for merchants, the early start doesn’t mean an early finish: fully 73% of shoppers anticipate they’ll still be finishing up their gift lists come December. While that’s fewer procrastinators than in 2014, the opportunities are still robust to extend holiday sales well beyond the traditional period between Black Friday and Christmas.
The action item
The challenge for merchants early in the season is to encourage shoppers to purchase immediately without undercutting later promotions, particularly around red-letter shopping days like Cyber Monday. To succeed, they should appeal to shoppers’ changing needs throughout the season.
Right now, emphasize:
- Exclusives and hard-to-find items. Merchants should highlight items that might be out of stock later in the season and difficult to find elsewhere, putting the emphasis on the brand’s unique product offering.
- Items to help with seasonal preparation. Cookware and home decor are obvious product categories to promote early, as are other purchases preparatory to tackling the actual gift list.
- Early purchasing benefits for existing followers and customers. Offering exclusive deals to loyalty club members and others already familiar with the brand rewards a crucial audience segment while spurring early spending.
MarketLive merchant Cost Plus World Market is kicking off the season with free shipping for selected holiday products, such as stockings and other decor, with a global banner. The stockings index page cross-promotes other holiday-prep categories, such as candles and entertaining supplies.
In the peak season, highlight:
- Best-sellers, top-rated items and other popular gifts. Now is the time to spotlight the products and categories that are perennial customer favorites and encourage shoppers to share their own wish list picks for maximum mass appeal.
- Popular discounts for new acquaintances. As shoppers kick into peak research mode, they’ll be on the lookout for free shipping offers and product price discounts and willing to explore new brands, merchants should introduce their brands with whatever savings they can offer.
After December 15, message:
- Gift cards and in-stock items. Merchants should selectively spotlight those items that can reach their destinations on time and step up customer service messaging around delivery deadlines. Gift cards should be promoted, including via purchasing mechanisms within social networks.
- In-store fulfillment options and last-minute store savings. Pickup in-store, ship-to-store, curbside pickup options, and in-store events and promotions should all take center stage as shoppers hustle to complete their purchases.
We’ll address post-Christmas messaging in a future holiday tip. Check back for new tips daily next week and visit MarketLive’s Holiday Resource Center for the latest research.