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7 Ecommerce Secrets That No One Does at This Time of Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and you know what that means for ecommerce.

It means insanity.

The holiday season is the time of year when retailers earn more revenue than any other time of year. Sales spike. Traffic explodes. Revenue rises.

Ecommerce retailers have a myopic focus on holiday sales, holiday sales, holiday sales, holiday sales. That’s totally expected. After all, this is the biggest sales period of the entire year.

Everyone’s doing the same thing — coupons, free shipping, major countdowns, huge email campaigns, and all the other typical frenzied ecommerce activities.

Why not try doing some things that ecommerce sites aren’t doing? Here are seven suggestions.

1. Prepare for January sales increase.

In December, no one’s thinking of January. It’s coming, but the only thing that ecommerce retailers are focused on is the big gains of Q4.

The chart below from comScore indicates consumer’s spending habits year-over-year, plotted according to quarters. Notice how Q4 always spikes, contrasted with the bottomed-out Q1.

retail ecommerce spending Q1 2007 to Q4 2012

This has become the expected model of eccommerce. Big Q4. Pitiful Q1. Year after year.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Unless you’re selling Christmas trees or candy canes, there is nothing inherently seasonally specific about your product. Why is it that Q4 is so big? It’s because retailers and commercial establishments have made it that way.

Now, I don’t think that you, a single ecommerce site, can necessarily reverse the ingrained commercial tradition of decades. I do think that with some intentionality and forward-thinking schemes, you can prepare for a more profitable Q1.

Practically speaking, this involves the following steps to prepare for Q1:

  • Planning ad creatives
  • Increasing PPC spend
  • Preparing email lists
  • Strategizing sales initiatives
  • Readying inventory
  • Etc.

The simple point is that you should be preparing for Q1 while everyone else is cruising the euphoric high of Q4. Don’t settle. Don’t rest. Just get ready for a smashing Q1.

Because (unless everyone else reads this article) no one is going to be doing that. You’ll be way ahead of the curve.

2. Give customers a buy-it-later option.

Fact: People can’t buy everything they wish they could.

Look at how people spend their money throughout the holiday season — massive amounts of money get spent from November 1-December 31. And then, rock bottom! Without warning, the holiday budget is blown.

US holiday ecommerce spending 2009 through 2013

Let me describe what happens during the holiday shopping season.

Consumers spend a ton of time shopping online. They’re seeing things that they will buy, and things that they want to buy. People are going to want to buy something for themselves. But they can’t. They don’t have the money. They’ve blown through their entire paycheck and then some. They want it, but they can’t get it.

You, as an ecommerce provider can accommodate.

Provide a buy-it-later option. They want it, but they can’t afford it. So, you set up a method by which they can buy it later.

This is nothing complicated. All you need is a CTA button near the “buy” button that says “buy it later.” Use this to capture 1) their email address, and 2) the product they want to buy.

On a specified later date, you send them a reminder about that item that they want to buy. It’s voluntary retargeting, and it’s insanely effective. Plus, you’ve got them on your email list to boot.

And, another benefit, you will probably boost your Q1 sales, too.

3. Make a wish list.

One of Amazon’s many genius moves was their creation of a wish list.

amazon wish list

But why should Amazon get all the fun? You may have fewer items for sale on your ecommerce site, but you can create a wish list, too.

A wish list can successfully fight shopping cart abandonment, and keep people tuned in for a future purchase.

Making a wish list is not a development nightmare. You can add an extension to your Shopify store, get a module for Drupal, or add it to WordPress.

4. A/B test.

Another snazzy holiday season move is pretty obvious: split test.

Any conversion optimizer knows the importance of split testing. During the holiday season, however, people just forget to run tests. A/B testing is one of those things that can easily be neglected.

Try not to neglect it. Split testing is one of the most direct methods of increasing your sales. You can monitor and make changes on the fly during the holiday season. Here are some of the upsides:

  • Run split tests early in the holiday season, and make adjustments that will optimize sales later in the season.
  • Conduct split-tests throughout the whole holiday season, and put the results into practice next holiday season.
  • Conduct split-tests during the holiday season, and implement changes during the regular season.

5. Prepare to launch something new.

This is one of my favorite holiday season tricks. While you’re riding the crest of big-time sales, get ready to launch a new product.

According to Harvard Business Review, “most product launches fail.”

Why? Why do most product launches fail?

There are tons of theories, most involving abstract non issues. This chart from Brainzooming.com typifies that huge blind spot in product launch failure. See if you can discover what’s missing from this list of causes.

reasons product launches fail

It’s preparation and timing. Why did they overlook it?

I would argue that much of product failures have to do with preparation and timing.

Preparation means that you are doing buildup and major marketing up to and following through the launch. Timing means that you choose the optimal time for your business and customer reception.

Post-holiday season is an ideal time to launch products. The New Year makes people think in terms of new. A new product coheres with this new-thinking mentality, and improves the likelihood of a positive reception.

One company, TVS Motor, declared that their new product launches were responsible for boosting Q1 Revenue by 31%. In 2014, Lundbeck investors observed that new product launches were up by 40%, resulting in huge sales upticks for companies, and a powerful revenue base that stabilized the rest of the year.

A product launch early in the year does several things: 1) stalls the typical post-holiday sales free fall, and 2) provides a great basis for increased sales for the remainder of the year.

But in order to launch a new product, you’ve got to do a ton of preparation during the holiday season. That’s something that not very many retailers are doing.

6. Sell New Year items.

For the holiday season, try a new approach to your marketing. Instead of pushing sales with a Christmas theme, try pushing sales with a New Year approach.

Many of your customers, especially the planners, have already made their holiday purchases. They’re thinking ahead to the New Year. The types of purchases that people make in the New Year are very different from their holiday-season purchases.

If you start pushing New Year items early, you’ll be able to get a leg up on the New Year’s sales, while also sustaining typically holiday sales.

With New Year’s sales, almost anything goes. You can sell coffee, headsets, computers, organizers, digital goods, books — anything that you would ordinarily sell during the holiday season.

The difference? You just market it differently. Instead of saying that it makes a great gift, say that it makes a better New Year’s purchase.

This isn’t just marketing fiction. This is reliable fact. The best items to buy in December are champagne, golf clubs, pools, TVs, and tools. But who’s buying those? The best time to buy a lot of other stuff is during Q1.

Here’s how Lifehacker breaks it down:

the best time to buy anything chart

Promote your January sales during December, and you’re cruising towards a winning January sales season.

7. Add in extra charges.

Warning: Use this technique with caution.

To blow your revenue sky high during the holiday season, try this: Add in extra charges.

Here’s the theory behind this proposal. During the holiday season, people are going to buy stuff. They will spend the money to get what they want. Basically, they are price insensitive, situated at the beginning of the bell curve on this pricing sensitivity graph.

price vs. penetration

Holiday season sales work on a built-in urgency principle. Customers feel a strong need to buy. They are driven by a compelling sense of time. Thus, they will willingly pay for extra charges.

So, go ahead and add in those extra charges. Have them pay for shipping, charge a holiday convenience tax, throw in a restocking fee — whatever it is, many customers will be willing to pay it. The closer it is to the climax of the season, the more likely they are to pay these extra charges.

Keep in mind that this could backfire. I only recommend it with caution, and only if the circumstances demand it.

Conclusion

The holiday season will be profitable for you, whether you try hard or not.

You can essentially let the holiday season take care of itself. Meanwhile, you can be implementing some of the lesser-known tactics that may boost your sales. Rather than waste your time during the holidays, maximize it. Others are snoozing. You can be ramping up big time.

What other holiday season techniques could try that no one else is doing?

About the Author: is a lifelong evangelist of Kissmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

  1. It’s really interesting, we spend all year planning for the holidays but in January many businesses are left scratching their heads.

  2. Nice article, very important specially for start up business.

  3. I agree with your suggestions thank you for e-commerce statistics its best ethics for business. I would like to follow.

3 comments

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