Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and New Year sales all happen in a short timeframe. It’s important to be as prepared as possible to attract and retain your customers. There's so much to do, and a lot of organisation that needs to happen to ensure you have a cracking peak season.
You also need to be aware of the likelihood of buyer’s remorse, and the increase in refunds that could follow this period. Let’s explore the different ways you can approach and navigate the peak season.
This year, start preparing early so peak season in 2023 is a success - rather than a massive source of stress! - for you and your business.
Peak season: The numbers
For online businesses, Christmas shopping is a huge opportunity to increase sales, and close out the calendar year with a bang. Australia has seen a 19.6% average growth rate in online shopping over the past five years and many shoppers tend to stock up leading up to the holiday period due to the prospect of sales during this time (we’re looking out for specials on Christmas lights and items to party on a budget).
New research reveals that in 2022, Australians are forecast to spend $63.9 billion in the pre-Christmas sales period, up 3% on 20212. To prepare, it’s important to focus on more than just your stock levels. Merchants need to ensure an optimal online shopping experience, test that their site can handle large amounts of traffic and that refund workflows are seamless for both the customer and staff.
Thinking strategically about peak season marketing
How will you reach people to let them know about your products? Think about:
- Your target markets: know these segments inside out, their interests, frustrations, behavioural traits. Build personas based on these commonalities which will help guide you in all aspects of your marketing efforts.
- Targeted campaigns: once you’ve developed personas, you’ll know how and where to reach your customers. Create content that speaks their language, is timely and of interest just to them. It’s a personal approach that makes customers feel valued, increasing the likelihood of generating loyalty and keeping top of mind.
- Content planning: this should be year-round, not just in the peak season. It’s important to frequently communicate with your contacts to keep top of mind. Ensure you reach them via their preferred method, eg: email, text, snail mail. But be mindful of how often you reach out, as those who communicate too much risk annoying and disengaging customers.
- New customer offers: attract attention by offering a discount or special offer you can give to those who’ve never purchased from you before.
- Existing customer offers: reaching out to those who’ve previously purchased from you is a tried and tested way to re-engage those who know your business and products. It’s a great idea to encourage repeat purchases by offering a reward eg: free shipping on orders over $99.
Here's three tips to optimise peak season in 2023:
1. Curating Customer Experiences
How will you wow your visitors? What makes your shop different and unique to that of your competitors? And how is the customer journey through your site? Be sure to test this with newbies to check it’s easy to find what you’re looking for (especially test that the search function works). If you’re offering a sale, be clear about the terms and conditions, always provide links to the relevant places to make it easy for customers to find what they need and set clear expectations as to sale end date, shipping and returns policies.
2. Rewarding Loyal Customers
People become loyal to brands they love, and if you’ve created an amazing customer experience, chances are you’ll see repeat purchases. Why not go the extra mile and reward loyal these customers? Some great initiatives include:
- Loyalty programs: usually a points or benefits system whereby your customers are offered incentives to continue buying from you. It also allows you insights into buyer behaviours and can direct your sales, marketing and product efforts because you know what your customers are more likely to buy.
- Subscription offers: customers are charged on a recurring basis for a product, usually for a discounted price. It’s a great way to retain customers and helps to inform your forecasting.
- VIP programs: offer exclusive rewards to your top customers when they achieve a goal eg: spend $500 in one transaction, or make a purchase before the end of the month. VIP programs can take many forms and the benefit is that you can chose a model that best suits your industry, helping them to feel valued and incentivises their loyalty.
- Referral programs: 92%3 of consumers believe suggestions from someone they know over advertising. Therefore, why not encourage this and offer an incentive to those who tell their friends to buy from you? Offers like “give $20, get $20”, or “share this code with a friend, if they buy you receive 10% off your next purchase” can be a real incentive to those who already buy from you. For new customers, it’s a form of social proof that your product is awesome – that’s one less advertising dollar you need to spend!
3. Optimal Refunds Workflow
Refunds and exchanges happen, we’ve all done it and online businesses aren’t immune (no matter how tricky some might make it). While it’s not ideal, buyer’s remorse happens so you need to be prepared. Why not look at it as an opportunity to provide an unforgettable, positive experience?
- Easy returns: a quick customer journey is ideal here, is it a button on your site? Or a form the customer can complete? Or maybe, you’ve already included the return slip in a reusable postage bag that the customer can simply send back. If a return is made quick and easy, the customer is more likely to buy from you in the future.
- Customer support: think through how you can best support your customers with any questions they may have. FAQs on your site, a chatbot with predefined answers to common queries or staff members ready to respond to an email or pick up a phone. When making a purchase, 83% of customers said good customer service was the most important criteria.
Our team is prepared to support your business in any way over the upcoming peak holiday season. We love creating Instant shopping experiences that allow your brands to wow customers, leading to higher loyalty and repeat purchases. Using Instant increases customer satisfaction through seamless checkouts and the ability to edit or cancel an order. We’re excited to see our customers excel over the holiday season and offer frictionless experiences everywhere.