1. Payment Options

Optimising the customer experience at the online checkout stage is essential to boosting sales, and improving the payment process now will set retailers up for a fruitful festive period. We only have to look at the growth of Klarna, a Swedish banking service that offers online payment solutions, to demonstrate the importance of a flexible and smooth checkout.

An increasing amount of retailers are adopting Klarna as a payment option, which allows customers to pay for items up to 30 days after delivery. In 2017, popular UK merchants Topshop and JD Sports struck up a partnership with Klarna, recording an average 20% increase in conversion rate as a result.

Klarna facilitates a frictionless checkout on both desktop and mobile, providing a secure one-click process where no card details or passwords need to be entered. Having such a quick payment solution in place will not only drive further sales from existing customers, but will also attract new customers looking for an easy buying experience in the lead up to the festive period. The sudden expense of Christmas shopping can often cause great stress to consumers, but if merchants are able to offer deferred payment options, this will help customers to stagger the spend and provide a less stressful buying experience.

  1. Rewards Programme  

Setting up a rewards programme is vital in building a foundation of loyal customers. Your most frequent year-round shoppers are almost guaranteed to spend with you during the festive period, and with a strong loyalty programme in place, the groundwork can be put in place now to ensure they spend more with you.

To build an effective rewards programme, identify what barriers there may be in your customer’s journey and build around this. For example, if customers are not completing purchases due to a lack of cost-effective delivery options, retailers could implement a programme which focuses on free express delivery. ASOS offer their ‘premier’ customers free annual next-day delivery for less than £10, and this was a key factor in the company’s continuous rise last year. They reported a 30% year-on-year sales growth in the last four months of 2017, as consumers took advantage of free and fast delivery in the run up to Christmas.

ASOS, and many other well known brands, also offer a points based loyalty scheme where customers accumulate points as they spend, and in return receive vouchers or discount offers. This type of rewards programme encourages spend all year round, as well as boosting conversions around the festive period as customers utilize their earned rewards.

  1. Competitive Analysis

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and January sales: these are all key sale events during the festive period. Analysing what competitor brands have previously promoted during these events is a key step to being ahead of the game, and there are several analysis tools available that can help retailers form a festive period strategy that will drive sales beyond that of their competitors

VoucherVu is a subscribed service that provides insight into vouchers, promotions, and cashback deals, both past and present. As well as current online promotions, retailers can use the service to look into two years worth of past sales and deals, which will prove invaluable when determining festive marketing opportunities. For instance, a retailer can discover that a rival brand offered up to 30% off during Black Friday, plus 10% cashback with key cashback sites, and can therefore decide to offer a stronger offer and ensure they are strategically and economically prepared ahead of time.

With the use of such tools as VoucherVu, brands can ensure they are being proactive rather than reactive in the run up to the festive period. This will not only increase efficiency during this busy time, but will also support in a strong festive sales performance.

  1. Display

Effective display marketing is key to both attracting new prospects and re-engaging current customers. Retailers should be establishing their display campaigns now in preparation for the upcoming festive period.

If executed properly, display advertising can serve as attention-grabbing visuals that create focused interaction at opportune moments. For instance, display technology can be utilised to detect if a site visitor is new, and, in turn, a pop-up can appear with a strong call-to-action enticing the visitor to sign up. An example could be: “Sign up now to be the first to hear about our Black Friday deals”; this kind of message not only prompts the visitor to sign up to the mailing list, but also lays down the groundwork for their return during the competitive festive season.

Strong promotional offers can also be put in front of returning high-value customers. Offers such as “Spend £50 today and receive an exclusive Black Friday code” will cement customer loyalty to the brand and ensure their sale spend is higher. The festive period is often filled with ‘advertising noise’, but retailers can put in the work today to stand out from the crowd, and establish a strong customer base ready to spend when the holiday sales commence.

  1. Retargeting

With GDPR having come into force this year, many retailers have suffered a huge loss in their email customer database. If you want to reach out to existing and potential customers before the peak Christmas period, re-building GDPR-compliant mailing lists will help to make a big difference to your marketing efforts. Check out our advice on GDPR compliance here.

Once a brand’s customer database is back to full health, setting up retargeting email campaigns is a vital step in ensuring there are no lost sales opportunities during the festive period. As with display advertising, many brands use retargeting within their marketing strategy, but there are steps that can be taken in order to jump out to consumers.

Appealing to customers on an emotional and personal level will be sure to tug at their heart (and purse) strings. For example, basket abandonment emails can be tailored to include the customer’s name, an extra 10% off code to use on a rainy day, and free express delivery on this order if they complete. Retargeting emails also provide the perfect opportunity for upsell; a fashion retailer could send an email to customers based on previously viewed items and suggest full Christmas party outfit ideas, as an example. This is encouraging the customer to spend more based on their interests, and also tapping into the excitement of the festive season.

Plan Ahead

Whether it be through retargeting emails or a simpler checkout, retailers can be smart by proactively planning out their holiday marketing strategy now, and ensuring their ecommerce site is fully optimised ready for the festive rush.