Do’s and Don’ts of Holiday Sales
Every business can benefit from offering holiday sales. Any business owner will tell you that holiday sales can make or break their bottom line. According to the National Retail Federation, holidays represent nearly 19% of some retailers’ total yearly sales.
If you took a look around a department store in your area you’d likely see holiday decor year round. From Valentines Day to Christmas, and everything in between retailers are always looking for the next holiday sale opportunity, so it’s no surprise that this practice is extremely lucrative in e-commerce as well. If you own a business and have not begun planning for next year’s holidays, now is the time to get started.
Before you begin your planning let’s explore what makes holiday sales so successful.
Why are holiday sales so successful?
Holiday sales are a proven way to boost revenue for both retail and ecommerce stores. Keren Kang, CEO of Native Commerce, an e-commerce and digital marketing company notes that holiday discounts can serve a variety of purposes. The holiday season is the busiest buying season of the year, and competitive discounts drive more sales.
Since the Great Recession consumers have come to expect regular sales, especially around the holiday season. When the economy collapsed in 2008, people stopped shopping so frequently. The retail industry saw sales drop to 35-year lows, and in response deeply discounted items to pad their bottom lines. Consumers got used to frequent discounts, which created a shift in buyer mentality. Now the retail market seems to be permanently on sale.
Holiday sales are so successful because coming out of the recession shoppers became savvy, some becoming obsessed with finding the best deal possible on every item. With the rise of e-commerce it’s now much easier for consumers to find the items they want at the price that they want. A consumer seeing an aggressive holiday discount on an item they’ve been eyeing prompts them to purchase at what they deem to be the best price.
For example, a 42” flat screen television may be $1,299 normally, but seeing a Black Friday flash sale for half off retail price would be an enticing deal for a potential buyer.
How to create a unique holiday sale
The tricky part about coming up with an idea for a holiday sale is that every other business will be doing the same. You have to find something that works, and stands out to your customers. Don’t just copy a sale theme from a competitor or larger brand, come up with something unique for your audience and business.
Also keep in mind the positioning of your brand. If you are positioning yourself as a high-end brand, it’s a general rule of thumb to only discount a select amount of inventory that you wish to clear from your inventory. If you sell more standardized items offering a more aggressive discount would be acceptable.
Here are a few creative ways to market your holiday sales year round.
Take advantage of social media. Your business’s social media pages are there to connect with your customers, so why not use it to your advantage to give customers a discount? Engaging your audience via social media can be a great way to give a seasonal boost.
If you aren’t able to implement ads via social media there are plenty of less expensive ways to spread the word about your promotion. For example, if your company sells wine in bulk, run a poll asking users what their favorite wine is, and pick a few voters to win a free wine box for the holiday. Freebies are a great way to let customers know they are appreciated.
Now, if you do have marketing spend to use, working with an influencer or blogger is a good way to promote a sale to your customers. A seasonal partnership with the right influencer can increase sales significantly.
Offer a free gift. Even if the gift is only worth $10, those you gift will happily convert over to paying customers solely based on the free value they get. This will look different for every business. For example, if your business sells hand soap you could offer a free hand soap with every purchase over $25. If you sell a service such as landscaping, offering a free consultation or a free service would entice people to buy in. Lastly, if you run an online store offer a free upsell (either a mystery offer or one the customer can see) to encourage them to purchase.
Add a holiday bonus for referrals. If your business does not have a referral or rewards program yet now is a good time to begin implementing one. A referral program helps you create social proof for future customers by building credibility for your business. Referrals and reward programs are proven to increase the reach of a business, and they work just as well during the holiday season. Encourage your affiliate, referrers and loyal customers to push your brand during the holidays by giving them something they can benefit from such as more points or another motivating gift.
Offer customers a secret sale. A secret sale for your most loyal customers will show them that you value their commitment to your brand. While the general public expects a certain level of sale for most major holidays, your most engaged customers can receive an added discount. Share a special sale link that only they can view, send them a special one-time coupon via email, or mail them a personalized coupon to use. No matter the time of the year this is a special way to show your appreciation.
Partner with a small business or local charity. During the holidays most people feel a sense of community and togetherness. Partnering with a small business or local charity in your area can encourage cross-promotion and traffic. For example, you might hand out coupons at the local bakery and thrift store to encourage their customers to visit you (and vice versa). Supporting a local charity may look like selling a special product and donating revenue to the charity or asking customers to round up their purchase to donate the extra cents.
No matter the holiday, it’s important to create sales plans in advance of the actual event. You want plenty of time to market your special discounts to get more people to buy in.
Quick tips for holiday sales
Offering a unique sale to customers will allow your business to stand out in a crowded market, and is one of the most important pieces to consider as you are planning. But, what happens after you figure out the details of your sale? Before your sale goes live here are a few important aspects to consider to ensure the success of your holiday campaign.
- Develop a marketing plan beforehand to keep messaging consistent throughout all mediums of advertising. This includes social media, email, direct mail, and any other mediums your business utilizes.
- Review shop policies such as return and shipping policies, and update as needed.
- If you run an online business it’s important to clearly communicate shipping time frames with customers. Also, outline any restrictions that may apply to the discount. This applies to traditional retail shops as well.
- Update product photography or design on marketing pieces to give your products a fresh look for the season.
Create a sale that works
No matter the time of year, holidays can be a crazy time for everyone. People will purchase things without thinking about it too much. Holiday sales are the perfect opportunity to make more profit and boost sales. Now is the best time to develop a holiday sale that works for you and your business.