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7 productive things to do during the post-holiday sales slump

by Gemma Tomlinson


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Now that the holiday rush is over, shoppers are enjoying the calm after the storm while you’re probably left wondering “what’s next?” The months following Christmas are often seen as a period of dry spell – consumers spend little and retail sales plummet. But as online retailers, you simply can’t afford to sit back and take the hit, especially when you need to deal with returns and exchanges, which are typically at their highest rates at this time of year.

We've looked into seven practices you should put in place to help you stay productive during the slump and get back into business as usual more quickly.

1. Review Challenges

Christmas is the busiest time of year for your ecommerce business. Simply having a Christmas strategy in place is not enough to bag yourself a fair share of the pie, you need to evaluate how well it performed throughout the holiday sales spike – by asking these questions:

  • Did you have the right people in place?
  • Did you have the right technology and did you utilise it?
  • Did you have the right infrastructure to support the sales spike?
  • Did your customers receive their purchases on time?

There’s added pressure over the Christmas period for e-tailers to deliver on their customer promises. If you ever found yourself unable to keep up with the increase in demand or struggling to fulfill delivery dates and keep the customer informed of their order progress, then now’s the time to look for a solution.

2. Overhaul Your Approach to Fulfilment

Once you’ve analysed the performance of your festive campaign, you need to think ahead to Christmas 2018. Make notes on where you struggled with fulfilment so that you can counteract these problems well in advance.

The most common changes ecommerce retailers make are:

  • Deciding between employing additional seasonal staff or outsourcing to a third-party provider to take the strain.
  • Switching from a manual approach to stock control and order fulfilment to an automated one.

For those online retailers that have faced a challenging festive peak, the favoured outcome is usually to partner up with a specialist fulfilment service; one that that can provide adequate staffing levels and visibility on stock levels as orders are placed, thus preventing customers from being disappointed with backorders and delayed deliveries.

3. Prepare for Returns and Exchanges

Bad news for e-tailers; many gift-getters will probably inundate online stores with refund and exchange requests on damaged, defective, or generally unwanted merchandise during this period. Handling these queries doesn’t come cheap – so how do you effectively resolve the issues without bottoming out?

To start with, you should implement live chat on your ecommerce site if you haven’t already. Make the most of this feature by answering questions about returns and guiding customers to alternative options rather than full refunds.

In addition, you should also take this quiet period as an opportunity to reevaluate your online catalogue and make sure it accurately portrays your products. Optimise the pages with professional photography, image zoom, reviews, and detailed descriptions. Pay particular attention to items that are regularly returned: take a critical look at their pages and make a few tweaks if necessary – doing this could mean fewer returns and more satisfied customers.

Did you know our fulfilment service takes care of your returns and exchanges too? Find more information here.

4. Improve Your Customer Care

As sales slow down, it becomes paramount that you provide top-quality support to each of your customers.

While it’s true that you should treat your returning customers with utmost respect to encourage repeat business, you shouldn’t neglect new customers who may have tons of questions concerning your brand and any products they recently purchased. Failing to deliver answers in time can be frustrating for these people and can potentially result in returns or refunds, or worse, it can drive them away for good.

To provide the best support to your customers, make sure that each of them is heard and that you are addressing their issue individually. Combining your efforts with personal touches will not only keep the number of refunds to the bare minimum, it may even turn a few new customers into loyal fans.

5. Market to the ‘New Year’ Attitude

Consumers’ mindsets are fickle and change drastically once January hits. All through December, they are eating, drinking, and spending money with wild abandon, but then New Year’s Day comes and suddenly they possess high levels of self-control and are resolutely determined to be a ‘better person’ – your golden opportunity to make a marketing pounce, by catering to their new-found self-betterment instinct.

Think about how your products relate to people’s new mindsets. Unless your business feeds on people’s cravings for junk food, liquor, or expensive clothes, you should market your products so that they tap into consumers’ New Year’s resolutions – think exercise equipment, juice cleanses, dietary supplements, and anything that can be tied to promoting a better lifestyle as long as it feels natural and true to your branding – to ensure a strong first quarter.

6. Consider a Multichannel Marketing Approach

Speaking of your marketing strategy, you should also consider deploying a multichannel approach when the post-holiday lull hits.

Rather than relying on one or two channels to reach your target persona, you should build campaigns that work together across a number of different platforms, including social media, email, PPC, etc. Consumers these days are constantly browsing online and checking emails or various apps. By implementing such a marketing strategy, you’re building out campaign assets that complement each other so you can directly present a cohesive message to your ideal customers, regardless of where they happen to stumble upon your brand. Plus, it will make it easier for them to browse your store and hopefully convert.

7. Announce Another Sale

Just when you thought the sale season had passed… get ready to do it all over again!

Most consumers shop during the festive season not because it’s the holiday, but because of the discounts. Likewise, most people are reluctant to shop post-holiday not because they’re any less interested in buying, but because they’re not quite ready to pay full prices again after a two-month long sale. So, to make sure you win your customers back for the next month or so, you should continue to provide discounts.

While every other e-tailer is trying to flog off their unsold tree ornaments and advent calendars, you can differentiate yourself by offering deals on non-seasonal items – scour your inventory for products that didn’t perform quite as well over the last couple of months, and discount them to get your business back on track.

Don’t succumb to the post-holiday sales slump this year! Just surprise your customers, keep them interested, provide top-notch support and you can start the new year off right with high sales and profits.

If you’re looking for an end-to-end solution to all your fulfilment challenges – from inventory management to after-sales services like returns and exchanges – get in touch with a member from our team today.

by Gemma Tomlinson on 26/11/2017

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