Tips to get your online store ‘ready and waiting’ for Festive Season madness

With the holiday season upon us, along with it comes the excitement of boerewors, braais and sunny skies for some. For others, like retailers, the busiest shopping period of the year is about to commence and it is paramount to keep your wits about you and keep your online store running as efficiently and competitively as it does throughout the year.

Even though South Africa is still considered a baby in the global ecommerce world, research conducted by PayPal indicates that online spending in South Africa is forecast to reach R53 billion by the end of 2018, up from R37.1bn in 2017. If this is to be believed, it points to the possibility of a very frantic festive season. One could assume the potential of double the traffic going through your online store this season.

Don’t get caught off-guard if it does get this crazy. Here are some tips that will get you started on minimizing that ‘retailer-festive-angst’.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

First off, is the arduous task of scheduling those important retail dates. This task does not get the attention it deserves. With the daily running around, catching curve balls and extinguishing fires, approaching retail ‘hot-dates’ are often forgotten, only to realize when it’s too late that a promotion was never prepared.

If we look at last year in Google Trends, we can see that people actually started searching for “Christmas Gift Ideas” beginning in August – well in advance of Christmas, a good reminder why you should begin planning now.

Here are the remaining dates for 2018 that are worth scheduling:

23 November – Black Friday
Black Friday is understood to be the start of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S. A trend which is taking hold in South Africa. As ecommerce in SA grows, consumers are becoming more comfortable with online purchasing especially on days like Black Friday. South African online retailers said they experienced a 227% increase in traffic as early as 2015 and had, since then, “worked incredibly hard” to plan for up to five times the usual traffic.

26 November – Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday refers to the US online shopping bonanza that follows Black Friday. Another trend taking root in South Africa. Last year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday boosted November’s retail sales to 8.2% — double the annual growth expected by economists.

17 December – Day of Reconciliation
Although not a shopping specific day, it is a public holiday a week before Christmas. Most retailers (both instore and online) experience higher than normal traffic because of customer’s expectation of traditionally run Christmas promotions.

18– 24 December – The last few days leading up to Christmas
Need we say more?

2. Promotions

Once you’ve sorted your promotional calendar you can get cracking on the actual campaigns. The months of November and December will be too hectic for you to be creative about it then. That’s why it’s so important to prep your content ahead of time. Below are some essential components you can employ to create a successful online campaign for your online store.
Email Marketing – If you have an email list, this is going to be an important communication channel for you to tell your customer base about your promotions. If you don’t, now is the time to start creating it.

Blog Content – As things hot up going into festive season, the last thing you’re going to be worrying about is writing a blog. So try and write up those blog posts ahead of the festive season. Plus, it won’t hurt to post your blog prior to the promo so Google can pick them up and begin drawing organic traffic.

Social Media – As things slow down in office, people are increasingly spending time looking for creative ideas, so make sure you set up shareable lists, and easy to use tips for shopping at your store.

Retargeting – Retargeting is a very effective strategy over this period, ensuring that your clients see your ads numerous times, and create more opportunities for you!

Ad Copy – Compelling ad copy that resonates with your customers takes time to conceptualise, so it’s important to start the process early. Doing that also makes room for you to leverage spontaneous events with adhoc campaigns, which hopefully translate to more business.

3. Delivery

A reliable delivery service is fundamental to your online store and even more so over the festive season, when shoppers are buying gifts. Timing and flexibility are everything over this period of gift giving. And while delivery is one of the principle benefits of online shopping, customers are expecting more flexible delivery channels these days – channels which go beyond just home delivery. Especially over the silly season, shoppers are on the move more or away on holiday making home delivery challenging.

A good solution which should become a permanent delivery option on your check out page is Pargo’s click and collect option, which allows your customers to buy online and have their parcel delivered to a convenient store where they can collect at their convenience. Online shoppers avoid the frustration of missing the courier and don’t risk their holiday gifts being delivered to their loved ones a few days or weeks too early.

To make 100% sure there are no delivery oversights, Pargo offers a simple plugin, which can be installed on your ecommerce site. The plugin automatically allows your customers the option of click and collect, for delivery to any of Pargo’s 2000 collection points. This relieves you of the task of having to manually place the order, saving you time which could be better spent elsewhere. Not to mention the mental tranquillity of knowing the goods will be delivered, even if your customers are not at home.

4. Keep it up!

But it doesn’t end here. Keep the momentum going. After the festive season, Back-to-School, Valentine’s Day and Easter will be upon us. Once you have the staples plotted, identify additional opportunities to get existing and new customers engaged with your company. And remember to track activity from this festive season and apply those learnings to the next festive shopping season. Planning makes space for more creativity, which hopefully translates to more sales.

Plan ahead so you can maximize those lucrative shopping dates, where people want to spend money. And make the festive season gentler by taking a few steps upfront to smooth out the ride. This will ensure long-term benefits in sales and customer satisfaction. So if you haven’t started your prepping and planning yet, get going…………..today!

Pargo is a smart logistics company offering an easy to integrate click and collect solution for online retailers. Contact us today to find out more.