For the majority of retailers, the holiday season is the busiest and most profitable time of the year. With the most popular shopping dates fast approaching, it's time to start preparing your store, staff and website for the holiday rush.
Holiday shopping can start as early as Halloween for a lot of people and continues to stay strong well into the New Year. To get ahead of your competitors, start planning your holiday strategy early - you'll be less rushed and you'll be able to bring in sales from early-bird shoppers. Check out our tips below to find out which 12 keys dates you should look out for this winter.
October 27th - Early bird deals
Start promoting early deals and offers on your site to attract the first shoppers of the season. Limited time offers will create a sense of urgency and encourage shoppers to make a purchase sooner rather than later.
- 10% off until December 1st!
- Free shipping on all orders in November
- Free gift wrapping before December
November 1st - Get Festive
As soon as Halloween has past, it's time for your store to get into the festive spirit. Create holiday categories and landing pages that are clearly visible from your store's homepage. Attractive and eye catching banners on your homepage will make customers aware of your holiday products and offers, and will encourage them to click through to your holiday section. If you have any new products or holiday specific products, upload them to your site and include them in your holiday categories. In order to meet every customer's needs in the build up to Xmas, make sure that you take an accurate stock check and restock your most popular products. If your store has been established for a number of years, take time to analyse your previous holiday sales to give yourself a better idea of how much stock you will need.
November 27th - December 1st - Thanksgiving Weekend
If your ecommerce store is based in the US or has a large US customer base, offer sales and incentives around the Thanksgiving period. The evening of Thanksgiving is an extremely popular time for online shopping and, for a lot of people, signifies the start of Xmas. Take advantage of the famous online sales that go hand-in-hand with Thanksgiving: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The popularity of these two days means that customers are already expecting great deals from your store - if you're not ready in time, you're guaranteed to miss out on a huge number of sales.
November 27th - Thanksgiving
November 28th - Black Friday
December 1st - Cyber Monday
December 5th - Set a final shipping date
Inform your customers of when the final shipping day is for guaranteed delivery before Xmas. It is vital that your customers are aware of the final shipping date so that they receive their products in time and are not left disappointed. Adding a banner to your store is an effective way of letting your customers know about delivery options and deadlines.
If possible, offer your customers an 'express' service as close to Xmas as you can. Although this will cost more them more, late shoppers will be very appreciative of the last-minute shipping option and will be more likely to choose you over your competitors.
December 8th - Green Monday
Similar to Cyber Monday, Green Monday is another chance for you to attract customers to your store with great deals. Coined by eBay, Green Monday is often the best sales day in December and is promoted by big brands like Walmart and Best Buy.
December 16th - Hanukkah
In the lead-up to Hanukkah, make sure to that you promote your offers and deals through social media and newsletters.
December 20th - Last weekend before Xmas
Last minute shoppers are expected to flood to ecommerce stores during the last weekend before Xmas to make their final purchases. Remember to keep your stock levels up and promote your most attractive deals.
December 23th - Gift card day
It may be too late for customers to order physical products from your store in time for Xmas, but it's never too late for gift cards. Use social media and email marketing to remind your customers that if they've forgotten a present for anyone they can still purchase a gift card to use on your ecommerce store.
December 24th - Xmas Eve
December 25th - Xmas Day
December 26th - Boxing Day / Kwanzaa
Sales sales sales! Last year in the UK alone, customers made an incredible 129m visits to ecommerce stores on Boxing Day, making it the biggest shopping day of the year. It is vital that your website can cope with the increased levels of traffic that it will experience over Xmas Eve, Xmas Day and Boxing Day - downtime is simply not an option with so many sales up for grabs. As with Xmas and Hanukkah, in the build up to Kwanzaa you should promote your offers and store over any available marketing platforms, including your social media accounts and your newsletters. Keep your promotions going all week until the final day of Kwanzaa to encourage customers to purchase gifts.
January 1st - New Year's Day sales
The holidays may be over, but the New Year sales are just beginning. One of the most popular sales of the year, shoppers head online in their millions during the New Year sales in the hopes of finding a great deal. In the week leading up to New Year's Day, remind your customers of any promotions you will have available on your store during the New Year.