Already thinking about the Christmas business in summer? Definitely!
What online retailer doesn't know the feeling of being overwhelmed by orders just before Christmas? On peak days, more than 15 million parcels are delivered in Germany during the Christmas season. Not even Santa Claus can cope with all the chaos. But that doesn't have to be the case, because if you think about your Christmas business early enough and make the necessary arrangements, you'll be well prepared for the upcoming Christmas season.
Summer and Christmas - it goes together perfectly
Christmas is the most beautiful, but also one of the most stressful times of the year. This is especially true for online retailers. Many people buy their Christmas gifts online, because it saves time and is also the most convenient. Another advantage for customers: They don't have to fight over the latest trendy toys or hottest smartphones in crowded stores. In addition, online shopping often offers attractive Christmas promotions or lower prices. Gifts are therefore often ordered at short notice and have to reach the customer by Christmas at the latest. Many an online retailer starts to sweat just thinking about the upcoming Christmas season.
###Checklist for mail order companies 2018.
But one thing is also clear: Christmas is the most important time of the year for online retailers and quite often brings them a large share of their annual sales. For online retailers, therefore, good preparation is already half the battle - because books, smartphones, toys and much more the customer likes to buy online.
And that's where summer comes into play: online retailers should use the summer slump or the vacation season to already take care of the planning of their Christmas business. This saves them a lot of work in November and December.
This is how Germans store for their Christmas presents.
For most Germans, Christmas is the most important time of the year. Then, of course, everything should be perfect and run smoothly. Buying gifts is also high on the to-do list, because the loved ones should be given plenty of presents.
It is therefore all the more exciting to find out where Germans get ideas for their Christmas presents. Almost half of those surveyed already know what they want to give their loved ones. 28 percent get their inspiration from a stroll through town and 22 percent rely on recommendations from acquaintances. For 16 percent of respondents, the Internet helps them get ideas. This was the finding of a study by the auditing firm EY.
And this is how Germans buy their Christmas gifts.
Additionally, the timing of Christmas gift purchases is extremely relevant - even for online retailers. 39 percent of respondents, and thus the majority, buy their gifts only three to four weeks before Christmas. 38 percent start doing so as early as October or November, and 23 percent of respondents don't get their gifts until one to two weeks before Christmas. However, this also means that fast and reliable delivery must be guaranteed by the online retailer.
The problems of online retailers at Christmas time
From an order volume that has increased many times over to an enormous additional workload and excessive customer service requests - Christmas means an extreme amount of work for online retailers. Bottlenecks in orders are not uncommon. It also regularly happens that not all packages can be delivered by Christmas. But the Christmas season also poses many dangers within the company. The strain on employees is enormous. Therefore, it is not surprising if these can withstand the Christmas pressure only with difficulty. However, not only in the warehouse or logistics, but also in the IT area. The danger that the web store might not be able to cope with the huge rush is already making some developers sweat.
The volume of parcels before Christmas is many times higher than usual.
That's why good planning is all the more important. Many different factors have to be thought of here. The summer slump, which usually occurs in August and September, is the perfect time to start thinking about the Christmas business. Because in October and November, when planning would be most favorable in terms of time, many online retailers are already fully occupied with their day-to-day business.
1. Upgrade website for Christmas business
The summer slump is the perfect time to get busy optimizing your website. Anyone looking for Christmas gifts wants to get to their product quickly and without hassle. Therefore, it is even more important that the online store is simple and user-friendly. Is the navigation easy and understandable? Are the necessary and appropriate product filters available? If the customer does not immediately find what he is looking for, he may go to the competition.
Additionally, summer or fall is the perfect time to conduct some studies. A/B tests or eye tracking studies are particularly suitable here. For example, you can find out which elements need to be placed where and which texts, images and headlines convince customers the most.
An additional, but exceedingly important point that online retailers quickly forget is that Christmas gifts are often ordered between two appointments and from a smartphone. This makes it all the more important to optimize the web store for mobile devices. 60 percent of all online purchases are made via smartphone at Christmas time. That's why customers should also be able to find their way around the webshop easily from their smartphone and place their order quickly and easily.
2. Update product pages
For customers, a detailed and helpful product page is crucial when choosing the right gift. Since they want to purchase the product as a gift rather than for themselves, it is even more important that all useful information as well as additional material is available to them. This makes it all the easier for them to decide on the product. The product description should therefore contain all the important information about the product and, at best, offer additional, useful information or suggestions. Appealing images and informative product videos also round off the product page. SEO optimized action should be taken here as well.
The summer slump is the perfect time to revise all product pages again and add missing information and additional material. But that's not all: detailed product pages bring advantages not only at Christmas, but all year round. Once you have thoroughly revised your pages, you can rest easy for a while. Perfect for skilfully filling the summer gap.
3. tackle assortment planning
Products that are trending or are promoted by influencers on social networks, such as Instagram or Snapchat, are the absolute hit at Christmas, especially among young people. Online retailers should definitely take this into account when it comes to assortment planning. For this reason, it is important to avoid bottlenecks as well as delivery problems through targeted and thorough stock or assortment planning. If popular products are no longer available at a certain point, the company may lose an enormous share of sales and potential is given away. As the Christmas season approaches, it is also important to replenish stocks in order to avoid delivery problems.
4. Prepare employees for the Christmas business
The Christmas season means a huge amount of extra work, both for the online retailer and its employees. It is almost impossible for the employees assigned to the day-to-day business to handle the Christmas business completely on their own. For this reason, it is important to organize additional staff, e.g. in the form of seasonal employees. After all, the extra workload is not just about shipping, but also about increased customer service inquiries. It also makes sense to offer training courses or workshops on the subject of Christmas business in the summer in order to optimally prepare employees for the upcoming period.
5. Discover and plan Christmas promotions
When it comes to Christmas promotions, it is important to start brainstorming early on. Which promotions make sense? What can be used to attract customers most effectively? What benefits can the online retailer offer customers? Promotions and discounts are often the deciding factors when it comes to choosing the right online store. In addition, the retailer remains positively in the customer's mind not only at Christmas, but also beyond, and the probability of a repeat purchase increases enormously. However, since almost all online retailers make use of this marketing measure, it is all the more important to stand out skillfully from the competition. The more unusual and crazy, the better. There should be no limits to the imagination and various departments and employees should be included in the brainstorming.
6. carry out test run
Last but not least, it definitely makes sense to run through the Christmas scenario as early as summer or fall. This way, none of the parties involved is thrown in at the deep end. Overstraining of the employees can be prevented and possible emergencies or unforeseeable events can be uncovered. Of course, when the time comes, scenarios may arise that were not foreseen. However, a rough test run gives employees more security for the upcoming Christmas business.
What might such a test run look like? Enormously high customer service requests, an increased number of orders to be delivered by a certain date, and extremely high additional costs in packaging, logistics, and customer communication are to be simulated and acted out in a training session lasting several days. In this way, various scenarios and possible events can be uncovered. The employees get a safe feeling for the upcoming Christmas season.
However, those who do not have the time and capacity for a test run can give their employees a checklist with the most important points, rules of conduct and possible, unforeseeable scenarios.
What else you need to know about the Christmas business:
What to remember
- Christmas sales should be tackled as early as summer or early fall .
- The summer slump can be optimally used to plan the Christmas business .
- The online retailer's website should be optimized for user-friendliness - through easy navigation as well as suitable product filters and optimization for mobile devices .
- Products and product descriptions should be updated and spiked .
- Product range planning should be envisaged early enough - trend products in particular should be taken into account .
- Staff should be optimally prepared for the coming Christmas business and further purchases of seasonal staff should be considered
- Christmas promotions should be developed and planned .
- The implementation of a test run rounds off the planning perfectly .
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