Christmas and New Years are busy times for businesses. Retail is at a peak but some other businesses start to slow down. But, it’s important for every business to end the year at a high and start the year off with a bang – which includes great sales.
When there is so much competition it’s important to know what will boost sales and keep customers satisfied.
Dynamic Business asked experts what SMEs can do to boost sales over Christmas and New Years period?
Jake Colvin, Co-founder and Director of International Operations, Owlet Baby Care:
The latter end of the holiday season can see many businesses struggle with sales. It’s inevitable as consumers feel a squeeze on their funds, with more people and events to buy for. However, if you plan out the December-January period correctly, the quieter weeks are less likely to have a negative impact on your business.
Before deciding to discount as part of the Boxing Day sales, it’s important to assess whether a massive sale will have a positive or negative effect on consumer perceptions of your brand. Our company, Owlet Baby Care, makes premium baby products that retail at a price point that invokes quality. So, to discount heavily at any point in the year would dilute our brand image and impact our brand equity.
Instead, we choose to partner with other brands that align with our style and our customers. We also offer more giveaways and gifts with purchase, across the festive season and into the new year, to encourage sales. A cute Christmas tree inspired design for our Smart Sock is likely to generate more interest, particularly from our social media followers, than a 10% discount would.
With all that said, the baby care industry has less seasonality than some, because the products are needed by new and expecting parents, year-round. If you believe your business will benefit from offering goods at a lower price, to boost sales in December and January, ensure that you’re able to provide the same quality customer experience that you would without a sale. The joy of getting a lower price is quickly displaced if a customer discovers that your business is running late, experiencing equipment problems, or your staff are inexperienced or fatigued.
End-of-year sales see consumers bombarded with messages, so keep what your customer is going through during this time of the year at the front of your mind. Keep your expectations of the busy period realistic, and try to implement marketing strategies that will help your sale stand out from the noise. Find different ways to be impactful, but providing value to the customer should be your biggest concern. Consider what it is your customer is looking for, make it easy for them to find, and show them how they’ll benefit from purchasing from your business.
Alex Alexandrou, General Manager, Reckon:
Significant price cuts can be an effective tool for attraction, but with the emergence of Black Friday pushing prices even lower, it’s important to avoid a race to the bottom. Large retailers can make profit on small margins due to high sales volumes, but this is difficult for smaller businesses.
Instead of seeing the Christmas period in isolation, it can fuel your year-long sales strategy. As new customers come to your store over the Christmas period — due to discounting or otherwise — this provides a great opportunity to establish ongoing relationships. Loyal customers offer much more value to your business than those looking for a quick bargain.
Re-engagement begins by collecting customer data when a sale is made. Consumers will happily provide their names and email addresses in exchange for a discount or digital receipt. This can then be used to provide vouchers at other times of the year.
Digital tools are by far the best way to record data and can help with building loyalty plans. A tablet equipped with cloud software can allow shop assistants to quickly add in customer credentials in-store or on the go, attach purchase details to their record, and then select how to reward customers with online punch card programs, special discounts or birthday gifts.
Making the most of every customer interaction over the holiday period can offer gifts for the rest of the year, particularly if treated as a critical component of an annual customer acquisition strategy.
Jordan Sim, Group Product Manager, BigCommerce:
During this upcoming sales period, Aussie retailers need to invest in their ecommerce presence from beginning to end — from the first click to the website to the final click at checkout. We saw last month’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales drastically grow in size Down Under with a record number of retailers taking part. Customers now have more choice than ever before, meaning competition for cut-through in the Christmas and New Year period will be fierce.
For retailers to not jump on the sales bandwagon is akin to retail suicide. They are taking themselves out of the race for this market share and they reduce their chance of a customer coming back to their brand once the sale is over. Participating in these types of sales today is a given, but succeeding in them comes from being smart and giving customers what they want — a smooth, seamless shopping experience from start to finish.
One of the most valuable aspects of a merchant’s online presence is checkout. Figures from last year suggest Australia had a staggering cart abandonment rate of 71 per cent, so ensuring that the online shopping experience is smooth from start to finish will be essential for success over this sales period. More money is being spent online with retailers like The Iconic entering the market to provide online shopping experiences that are as (or even more) personalised and smooth as traditional in-store interactions.
BigCommerce research from October of this year revealed that Aussies are more prudent shoppers than their global counterparts online, capping online shopping at $670 AUD per month — compared to the equivalent of $1305 AUD in the UK and $1130 AUD in the US. This means that in order to have cut-through during the Christmas sales, retailers must prioritise the online shopping experience.