Written by David
6th January 2014 • 8 min read
January sales have been in full swing for a couple of weeks now. Has your eCommerce store made the most of the sales period to drive up your revenue for the winter season? Or have you been too busy recovering with a post-Christmas hangover?
However you’ve done in the sales this year, the slow-down period over the next couple of months is the ideal time to make sure you’re prepared for next year’s eCommerce January sales. That way, you’ll be ready to take your share of the pie – and it’s a pie that’s getting bigger.
In this article, we’ll share insights and tips into getting the most out of your post-Christmas discounts. And we’ll start with some good news.
Online Sales Volumes are Surging in January
Spending on the high street in January has slumped in recent years. In 2012, 44% of high street retailers reported January sales volumes were down compared to the previous year, and only 22% notched up a rise. This gives a balance of -22% (That’s according to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey).
By contrast, online and mail order retail showed a big rise in sales, with a balance of +50%.
The Lesson. If you’re running an eCommerce store, you’re in the right place to make the most of the January sales.
If you’re still trading solely on the high street, you need to get your skates on and look into multi-channel retailing. You’ve got some catching up to do, but having a high street presence as well as an online store will give you an overall advantage.
eCommerce January Sales are Starting Earlier
One of the reasons for the high street slump in January revenue is that January sales are starting earlier. Sales are now beginning in the days immediately after Christmas, or even before Christmas.
We’ve even heard about this trend from eCommerce traders using the Veeqo app.
“A few years ago, we would only get one or two orders on Christmas day,” a Veeqo user told us recently. “Now it’s one of our busiest days.”
One key driver of this change is the rapid rise of mobile commerce. Back before tablets and smartphones, you wouldn’t boot up your PC to go shopping after tucking into your turkey. With tablets, you can buy anything you want while you eat at your Christmas buffet, or in front of the Queen’s speech. This is especially the case when people use the tablet they’ve been given as a Christmas gift.
The Lesson. Plan January sales together with your Christmas strategy, and start your sale as early as you can without cutting into your pre-Christmas revenue.
As the retail consultancy Summit points out, some online retailers are starting their sales as early as 20th December.
Go Big or Go Home
Sales are a great way of clearing out excess stock to free up capital and warehouse space. Idle stock is holding back the flow of money through your business.
But if you want to shift product and attract extra traffic to your store, you’ll need to plan on some hefty discounts.
According to the “eCommerce girly” Peggy André, consumers are looking for discounts that make them do a double take.
“A reduction of less than 30% is not particularly attractive to Internet users who can get an immediate discount of 50 – 60% from many well known brands,” André says.
The Lesson. Don’t be afraid to offer big discounts. You’ll free up extra cash to buy new stock, and you’ll get people talking about your store. Remember, it’s always harder to win a new customer than to keep an existing customer. Every new customer that shops in your store during your sale is a marketing asset to your business.
Create a Sense of Urgency
High street retailers typically markdown sale items all at once, then wait for the crowds to show up and clear out their stock. Because of this, high street shoppers feel a sense of urgency. If they don’t arrive early to the sales, they’ll miss out on bargains.
With an online store, there are a few different ways to create a sense of urgency that are more effective than just slashing prices on all your stock.
This sense of urgency is vital in getting your customers to buy today, instead of holding off for another day. Every “not now” is potentially a lost sale forever.
Here are some tactics you can use to create a sense of urgency:
- Flash Sales. These can be deal of the day, deal of the week, or they can even last just a couple of hours per product. Keep your customer coming back to your website and opening your emails again and again by offering a new deal every day during the sales period. Each time they open your emails or visit your website you’re building a stronger relationship. Of course there’s a good chance that when they visit your site to check out your latest deals, they’ll remember other items they want to buy from you too.
- Show Stock Levels. Down to your last five items in stock? Let customers know, and be clear: when it’s gone, it’s gone.
- Time limited coupons. Coupons are fantastic for rewarding your loyal customers and social media followers. Sending out time limited coupons get customers visiting your store and checking out your other deals. Be sure to make it clear whether coupons can be used on sale items.
The Lesson. Use a range of discounting tactics to keep your customers returning to your store and spreading the word to their friends.
Remember – Sales Are for Life, Not Just for Christmas
These days, sales happen all year round. Even if you’ve missed out on the eCommerce January sales rush, you’ll have plenty of chances to make up for it this year. You can use every holiday to generate buzz around your brand – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Bank Holidays, the Summer Holidays, and Hallowe’en. Also, don’t forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
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