All systems go for the Christmas season

The season which brings the online retail trade the greatest sales has to be well prepared. We’ve compiled a number of items which should already be top of the To Do list.

The Christmas period confronts retailers with major challenges long before it gets going. The aim must be to make thorough preparations in order, on the one hand, to generate the greatest possible sales and, on the other, to respond adequately to the rush of orders.

To cope with the quantities ordered in the Christmas business without sacrificing quality and service, early steps have to be taken to set the correct course in technical, logistical and personnel-related questions. After all, the relevant analyses, the development of new solutions or the incorporation of additional personnel need an adequate run-up period. And there’s no time for this when things get moving. Then smooth technical, organizational and logistical sequences are an absolute must.

  • Prepare the technical basis well!
    Everything hinges on the technology, be it the online shop or the infrastructure in the back office. Check the technical side of things for peak loads and crisis points to ensure that the most important website areas and special pages for the Christmas business remain stable even when the access rates are high and see to it that purchases can be processed even if there are online failures.
  • Make sure there is skilled support!
    If you plan early you will have enough time to look for, select and train personnel and gather customer experience. Choosing the right logistics partner may also be a crucial factor. If deliveries are made to customers too late or they arrive damaged, the first casualty will be the sender’s image.
  • Clear up!
    Ensure that the conditions in your webshop are optimum and manageable. Which products don’t fit into the range, where can you improve navigation and how can you reduce the risk that a purchase will collapse?
  • Draw up a good marketing strategy!
    Email marketing is still one of the highest-impact advertising activities. But its effectiveness will depend very much on the strategy, including the content, the target group and the times of dispatch. Email service provider Epsilon International has analysed the email marketing activities in the retail trade specifically in the 13-week period up to Christmas and from this it has generated concrete practical recommendations. For example:
  1. The earlier the campaign, the better the opening rates and the bigger the shopping baskets. You should therefore send a series of very early messages to create attention and to increase willingness to buy.
  2. Focus the messages on the last week in November in order to avoid the great rush of competitor messages. Avoid the campaign days of Tuesday and Friday in the period from the middle of November to the beginning of December.
  • Think beyond Christmas!
    You should also provide for the phase after Christmas, for example with marketing activities for the post-Christmas sales (vouchers etc.), exchange enquiries and complaints. You should also schedule sufficient personnel for this.

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