As retailers prepare for peak trade, we present a quick guide to maximise your digital and ecommerce efforts in pre-, during and post-Christmas.

With UK ecommerce sales to reach £52bn in 2015 according to a report by econsultancy this will be the most competitive holiday season ever - but are you ready to maximise sales and turn this into a bumper Christmas?

The holidays: key dates

  • 31st Oct - Halloween
  • 5th Nov - Bonfire Night
  • 27th Nov - Black Friday Deals
  • 30th Nov - Cyber Monday - Now Extends A Full Week
  • 24th Dec - Xmas Eve - Sales Start
  • 26th Dec - Boxing Day - Increased Sales Traffic
  • 1st Jan - New Year Sales
  • 1st Feb - Extended Sales
  • 1st Mar - Extra Discounts

Team / Service

Most large companies know what to expect; however, many small/medium sizes businesses can find that they suddenly become swamped with unexpected sales volumes, which impacts every area of their business. Think about the maximum extra volume your current team could handle. Could you hire temps at short notice if you needed them? For many companies it’s sales first, service second; however this can cause negative reviews online which can be counter productive.

Products

Have you reviewed your inventory? This is the perfect time of year to clear out your warehouse ‘Amazon-style’. Tier your campaigns into Clearance/Deals, Best-Sellers, and Long-Tail products.

Promotion

There are many options to increase sales, you don’t have to follow the pack and only sell products at a loss, you can reasonably Discount Products, use Discount Codes, offer Bundle Deals, and use Buy X Get Y. Make days like Black Friday work for your Business. Andy Street, chairman of John Lewis, has warned that retailers will have to rein in Black Friday deals.

SEO

Have you prepared content detailing your products and promotions? Many retailers still don’t have pages such as Black Friday Deals (/black-friday-deals). Prepare them now and include keywords for your brands and products to give you the best chance of your page being ranked by google and organic search increasing to your site. Also ensure to optimise the text for your best-selling products as an increase in product specific search traffic will make a big difference in the traffic received by the top positions.

PPC

Have you prepared any Search Ads for this holiday season, such as around ’Black Friday Deals’? You could also optimise your existing Ad Text with seasonal promotion messages. Don’t forget to optimise your bids and more highly monitor changes is impression share as your competition increases.

Google Shopping and Promotions

Shopping Ads will be a key battleground this holiday season. Price reviews, bid adjustments, text optimisation, and special promotions will all be vital areas to maximise sales during this period.

We will be covering Google Shopping and Promotions in an in-depth article next week.

Email

Don’t forget to let your existing customers know. Offer them personalised promotions and early access to sales. Keep them well informed but don’t spam them.

Social Media

You have the content prepared and your existing customers know - it’s time to build your audience with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and many other channels available. Again offer customers a reason to share, discount codes and early access.

Mobile

The biggest growth area this holiday season will be mobile. Showrooming, browsing and purchasing via mobile are now key to any retailer. We wrote these articles on the importance of mobile and the benefits of mobile advertising earlier this year.

Shipping / Click and Collect

Have you given shoppers as many options as you can? From timescales, to drop off points, and even Sunday delivery, customers now expect a lot more.

Are your delivery options and policy clear on your checkout and website so that customers know what to expect before they purchase?

Have you planned for bad weather, snow delays etc? How will you inform customers of delays? Have you planned for a worst case scenario, such as the City Link collapse which left many retailers in turmoil? Mothercare had to find a new delivery company on Xmas day.

Technical Considerations

Can your website handle a big increase in visitors? Is your page speed fast enough, and optimised for mobile? Has your technical team tested for these events? Even many large retailers such as Argos struggle to keep their sites running smoothly on Black Friday, so ensure you have the necessary levels of technical support in place.

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