The 2019 holiday season was a gift to e-commerce retailers: Online sales between November 1 and December 24 were up 18.8% from the previous year, contributing 14.6% of overall retail sales, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse™.
Those figures are even more notable considering that the traditional holiday shopping season was shorter in 2019 due to Thanksgiving falling relatively later on the calendar (November 28) than usual.
But now that the wrapping paper has been cleaned up and holiday decorations put away, how do e-commerce retailers keep the momentum going in January and beyond?
“On average January revenue is usually predicted to be 20% to 65% lower versus December,” says Anh Vu-Lieberman, Senior Director for E-Commerce at Branded Online. However, savvy brands can plan ahead for this traditionally softer sales period (which can last until the third or fourth week of January) and use this time to do a brand reset while refocusing for the coming year.
Vu-Lieberman discusses some of the strategies e-commerce retailers can use to boost their bottom lines.
Get dialed in to mobile.
“As smartphones keep evolving and improving, all e-commerce retailers have to be mobile first,” Vu-Lieberman says, adding that the most recent holiday season was the first where mobile revenue outpaced desktop, by 5.7 %. This focus on mobile, for instance, helped some Branded Online clients get ahead of any potentially lackluster 2019 Black Friday sales due to inclement weather and travel delays. “Some of our brands had a 10-to-1 return on investment on SMS, meaning for every dollar spent in advertising they got $10 in sales, which is extremely responsive,” says Vu-Lieberman.
Extend end-of-year sales.
The calendar may have already flipped to 2020, but e-commerce retailers who want to drive customers and conversions are extending into their traditional year closeout sales in January. This is partly driven by the later-than-usual holiday shopping period in 2019. Plus, sale-on-sale promotions can also help move out inventory to make way for new collections that launch in mid-January.
Choose words carefully.
Certain words are triggers for e-commerce shoppers, such as “favorite” or “best seller.” “If you don’t know a brand and it’s the first time going to the site, the word best seller evokes an emotion,” Vu-Lieberman says. “If you didn’t have that, you wouldn’t know what the brand is about. It also helps with building out purchase affirmation.”
Another tactic that we use in marketing campaigns to message Best Sellers is to feature highly-rated products or most-loved products, whether it’s onsite or on social.
Add installment plan options.
Retailers offering installment payment plans such as Afterpay and Klarna target not just shoppers looking for a discount, but also customers who don’t mind paying for expensive items out of their normal price range. Surprisingly, it’s not just millennials on limited budgets who find installment plans attractive; Vu-Lieberman says one of the brands she works with discovered the average age of its Afterpay customers was 44. “Even though the item is full price, it will be more attractive advertising it on Facebook or paid search as ‘Take this home for $39.’ People focus on that installment number rather than the full number.”
Don’t overlook the present for the future.
While fashion retailers prep for new collection launches in January, it may be easy to forget that e-commerce trends more towards a buy now, wear now attitude. Especially with the cold weather in most parts of the country, customers may not have as much interest in summery resort wear that will sit in their closet for a few months, compared to a pair of boots they will use immediately. Vu-Lieberman says often brands will take a new year, new you approach. For example, promotions geared towards New Year’s resolutions can focus on athletic wear, or retailers can craft campaigns for new looks for the office.
Build a strong customer base.
Brands need to strike that fine balance between catering to loyal VIPs and bringing in new customers. That can take time and money—Vu-Lieberman says brands can spend up to 25% of projected revenue on advertising—but it’s a strong investment in the long run. To make it pay off, brands should look for a partner that specializes in e-commerce retail solutions.
Branded Online uses its technology and expertise to help companies develop custom e-commerce solutions that benefit them not just in the holiday and post-holiday shopping months, but all year long. Contact us and learn more about all the ways we can help your online business run smarter.