Xmas 09 was always going to be a make or break period for many retailers in the UK. Thankfully a year of sustained doom and gloom in 09 was drawn to a close with a hugely busy Christmas sales period, both for online and traditional retailers. With some retailers citing the Christmas 09 period as one of their biggest and best for over 10 years what lessons can be learnt from this boom for online retailers so that 2010 can be another bumper year?
Key learning’s from 2009:
1. ‘Cyber Sunday and Monday’ peaks shift - This year (despite the UK’s ongoing Royal Mail troubles denting delivery time confidence) the online peak trading time fell a week later than 2008 to the 6th and 7th of December. This points to growing consumer confidence in online shopping and the growing trust that retailers make good on their promise to deliver before Xmas. Another factor in the date shift could be the ‘Big R’ - recession. With the UK’s money belts firmly tightened over 2009 many people will have been looking for that bargain closer to Xmas and with many offline retailers advertising pre Christmas Sales it appears this trend is reflected in the online retail market
2. No rest for online retailers – yet again this year people decided after a day of family and food on the 25th it was time to switch back on their computer and do some more shopping. Boxing Day and the 27th of December were the two busiest days in online retail of 2009. So for all those Ecommerce businesses out there the lesson is clear, cancel Xmas because you should be working
3. The year of the multichannel retailer- 2009 was the year of the multichannel retailer with companies such as Next, John Lewis, Currys and Tesco enjoying a boost from increased pre purchase online browsing and increased shop footfall
Top of the shops – Boxing Day 09
Online data experts Hitwise have reported the following as the most popular websites ranked by visits on 26th December:
2. Amazon UK
6. Your M+S
7. John Lewis
10. Tesco Direct
Top Product Searches W/E 05/12/09 – Did your present hit the mark this year?
1. Apple iPhone
2. Apple iPod Touch
3. Microsoft Xbox360
4. Nintendo Wii
5. Sony Playstation 3
6. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
7. Nintendo DS Lite
8. GHD Hair Strengtheners
9. Apple iPod Nano
10. Go Go Hamsters
In summary for online retailers large and small the key learning’s from 2009 would be:
1. Do your sale preparation well in advance. Not only should you be operationally set for your sale but you should actively be promoting it. If you are an online only business you have a wealth of options.
a. E-shot your customers with advance warning of when your online sale starts,
b. Utilise display banners on your site to advertise sale start dates and promote top offers and price cuts during your sale period.
c. Rationalise your PPC campaign so you are actively promoting ‘sale’ search terms within your adverts and increase your spend during this critical time
d. Cut through the noise – what extra special incentives are your running at sale time to give your site the competitive edge? BOGOFF, fee gift amazing competition?
2. Cancel Christmas – can you really afford to miss the key trading days of 26th and 27th of December? Make sure you time your sale to start at least on these days and is well promoted. If your delivery and dispatch times will be affected make sure this is communicated to customers and most importantly ‘staff up’ to cover customer queries and site management
3. Delivery, Delivery, Delivery – delivery messages should be well communicated and above all you can keep your promises to your customers! Make sure you use a trusted carrier – customer confidence is key, you wouldn’t want poor Timmy to be without his Go Go Hamster on Christmas day now would you!