For retail, November to December is typically the most wonderful time of the year, from a revenue point of view! On average, Australians spent $375 each during the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales period, equating to total sales of around $1.3 billion . Next up is Christmas, with Roy Morgan predicting that Australians will spend $52.7 billion across the holiday season, an increase of around 2.6 per cent on the previous year.
Traditionally the real action happens on Boxing Day, although customers who indulged in some of the $686 we are expected to spend on groceries may be more inclined to pick up post-Christmas bargains on their smartphone, dressed in the comfort of loose-fitting cotton pants and lying on their favourite couch! Indeed, an estimated 25 per cent of all online sales are now made through mobile devices – retail is literally in the hands of the consumer!
How can retailers offer sales and promotions that really appeal to their customers – and seal the deal? Here are some tips to ensure that the holiday season – and any other high activity period – really works for you.
Predict the win
While retail is all about what’s new, your learnings to predict trends comes from the past. Data about the type of items customers look for at this time; which pages on your eCommerce site received the most hits and why purchases were not completed; which promotions worked best – are all invaluable insights to gain an edge.
Data from your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) allows you to target specific groups of customers with personalised emails. For example, you might see trends about customers abandoning purchases once delivery fees are provided and you could consider an incentive for your high spending customers to overcome this – such as free shipping.
Or perhaps your delivery times were the challenge and you need to explore options such as click and collect? Doing this lowers your costs and also allows you to upsell to the customer when they visit your retail location to pick up their purchase.
Take every advantage
Sales and promotions are of course a time honoured recipe for success and the magic ingredient is real-time visibility. You need data from all sources to understand what your customers are buying and what stock you need to have. Our recent survey with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) revealed that only 53 per cent of surveyed retailers have real-time insights into sales and inventory.
With an Enterprise Resource Planning solution that links inventory, warehousing and distribution on one platform – retailers can up their game. You know what stock is available at which location and how quickly it can be moved to outlets, or directly to the customer. When the supply chain is linked to real-time sales information from every online transaction and in-store Point of Sale (POS), it sharpens the retailer’s ability to respond quickly to unexpected demand or trends – which is a strong competitive differentiator.
Talking about Point of Sale, half of all ARA respondents6 have POS solutions that do not process sales when offline. Myer recently experienced a major POS outage that resulted in very frustrated customers and lost sales in the busy Christmas period. Many retailers who continue to run older systems do so because they feel a change will be expensive. The reality is that recent developments make offline POS capabilities more accessible via simple devices such as tablets – which can now also include integrated credit and debit card payments. Further, the opportunity cost of lost sales from every outage – along with resulting damage to brand reputation and the negative, often abusive, experience staff endure – makes the decision to upgrade commercially sound.
Upsell the right way
Amazon leads the race in the upsell stakes with their famous on page upsell: “customers who bought this also bought that”. In fact, way back in 2006, Amazon reported that 35 per cent of its revenues were a direct result of its cross sales and upsells – even though there’s often no discount offered in most cases, just timely suggestions!
A study done by Harvard Business School , discovered that when video game business, Nintendo offered an optional bundle of a video game console with the game, the sales of consoles increased by 100,000 units – and video game sales jumped by more than a million. Conversely, when Nintendo made the bundle the consumer’s only option – their sales went down by 20 per cent – nobody likes a pushy salesperson, be it in real life or automated!
There is also an upsell opportunity with email invoices. Add suggestions and offers – make it easier for your happy customers to buy more from you!
Your promotions and the way that they’re shown on your website need tailoring to the devices customers are using. The user experience should be simple, easy to understand and should flow all the way through your website. If a customer interacts with you via their smartphone or tablet, make sure the interface is optimised for that device. People tend to ‘snack’ on mobile content, so it needs to be easily navigable for a customer to return to.
Your customers expect a ‘know me, serve me, anytime, anywhere’ experience. If something is not in stock, you need to tell the customer before they complete the purchase and suggest suitable alternatives. Some retailers even offer discounts to customers that purchase alternatives from items in-stock and even get it to them via express delivery at no additional cost.
Profiting during seasonal periods means fine-tuning your systems and integrating them with the promotions and specials you’re offering. It also means optimising your website for devices and making sure you can deliver on what you’ve promised by bringing together critical customer data, real-time sales information, ecommerce and tools such as POS to support your teams, for an unparalleled shopping experience.
With these tips in mind, you’re set to cut through the noise and clutter of the holiday period, satisfy your customers and boost your bottom line.
Les Bruzzaniti is the Retail Product Manager at Pronto Software.