|Mon Aug 22 2011 22:24:19|
Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?
By: Ina Steiner
If you're not yet ready for the holiday shopping season, you're in trouble, according to a panel of retailers at the recent Etail East conference moderated by Michael Hayward, CEO of ROI Labs. And while small sellers may have more flexibility than their larger counterparts, it's a good reminder to make sure that you're ready now for the busy holiday shopping season ahead.
You won't have holiday sales if you don't have inventory! Tad Martin of Cross Commerce Media, said when he worked at Overstock.com, he would meet with suppliers months before the holiday shopping season. For example, he would have to make a commitment to Godiva in May and wouldn't be able to get additional product beyond his spring order.
Plan Your Marketing Campaign
Plan your promotions, including email marketing and website design. All of the panelists agreed testing was important, though they disagreed whether retailers should test during the busy holiday shopping season.
Michael Merhab, Vice President of Ecommerce of CBS Interactive - CBS Sports, said he would have his holiday plan in place by mid-year. In fact, he starts planning by pulling analytics in December, begins formulating his plan in January, and runs test in May and June. The first email goes out to customers in September as a loyalty preview.
Jay Greenberg, Director of Ecommerce Marketing at Bed Bath & Beyond, told the audience he knows what the home page of his company's website will look like each day during December. He can still make changes throughout the month, but he can rest easy now knowing he has his bases covered.
Greenberg also said it's important to prepare your call center and customer service staff and said merchants can use them as a sales tool to increase order size. Udayan Bose, founder and CEO of NetElixir, which helps retailers acquire customers online, said it's important to have a "Plan B" in place.
When the conversation turned to promotions, everyone agreed free shipping resonated with customers. Greenberg said it was his go-to promotion. Merhab said free shipping "smoked" 20% off orders, even when the math would suggest otherwise. For example, an offer for a $65 item with free shipping would do better than 20% off, when in reality the $4.95 in shipping & handling was less than the $13 savings in a 20% off promotion.
Halloween decorations are already making their appearance at retail stores, and Christmas decorations will be here before you know it. Are you ready for the holiday shopping season? Take a quick survey and let us know, and we'll publish the results in a future issue!