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How to prepare for the busiest shopping time of the year

Jessica | Thursday 6th October, 2016

It’s getting to that time of year you either love or hate. Nights are drawing in, the temperature has dropped, woolly jumpers are making their way out of the wardrobe and campaigns everywhere all start to have one theme in common – Yes, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and the chaos of shopping.

Some people can’t even bear mentioning the ‘C’ word in October and although Christmas might seem a long time away yet, retailers, marketers and the super-efficient few of us have most definitely been thinking about it before now.

With the average British family spending more than £800 celebrating Christmas, all sorts of establishments are primed to make the most out of the season.

1.5 million Londoners have already started their Christmas shopping and with the news that Selfridges’ opened their Oxford Street Christmas department in August, 141 days before the big day, it’s clear there is considerable demand to get buying, making a huge opportunity for retailers to make profits in the pre-season.

Today, there are many special shopping promotions before the ‘traditional’ Christmas shopping season for consumers to grab a bargain, with retailers profiting from holding seasonal sale promotions, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and online shopping discounts.

Black Friday was introduced to the UK in 2010 by Amazon. Although it’s fairly new to the UK, there is a year-on-year increase, with last year’s figures showing an increase of 33% from 2014, up to £1.1billion, with Amazon alone selling 5.5 million items.

Most retailers now offer some sort of Black Friday deal, with some promotions being extended and lasting a whole week, but in order to not lose out to the competition, retailers now need to be ahead of the game and be well-prepared.

Curry’s / PC World offer a Black Friday landing page all year round, with the years Black Friday date on show all year round and even an invitation to put it in your diary. It’s never taken down, meaning traffic is constantly being drawn to the landing page even out of season. This is a great example of a retailer delivering and meeting demand by going beyond customer expectations.

Partaking in promotions or loyalty schemes is a chance to reward your customers for choosing you and can be used to draw them back in the future, to retain their custom even out of a promotional period such as Black Friday. The huge market for both ecommerce websites and high street retailers means there is lots of competition, and rewarding customers with unique offers will help to shop with you again.

Using mobile devices to shop is now of course common practice, especially for ecommerce websites. Research by Econsultancy showed that 37% of shoppers use a smartphone to complete a purchase, whilst 30% use their tablet. Smart Insights have shown that Search is the most popular starting point for mobile research and now we all have simple ways to search through our mobile devices, such as the Google app by simply saying “OK Google” and Siri, quick mobile shopping is here to stay, but getting that initial search and browse on your ecommerce website to a purchase is the tricky part.

In order for those purchases to be made and not to be left hanging in a basket, track your customer across the purchase journey and use tactics to encourage shoppers to complete the sale, such as using social ads and cookies to remind them of what they searched and visited for and also by data capture to keep in touch and offer exclusive promotions.

By understanding your customers and the way they browse and shop through their purchase journey, you can understand and apply your marketing strategies in the build-up to Christmas to suit your customer. By getting ready early and using the whole seasonal shopping period and beyond, you should be ahead of the rest and maximise your profits.

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