It all comes down to this week. Or at least that's what it feels like.
In reality, while you focus on how to capture the last-minute holiday sale, you should also be thinking about how to create experiences that will encourage seasonal shoppers to become valuable, long-term customers.
The best type of holiday shopper is the new buyer who becomes a loyal customer. Here are three ways to maximize what's left of the holiday season and convert first-time shoppers into long-term customers along the way.
1. Communication is key. One of the most important tactics that you can do during the final holiday push is communicate shipping cutoff dates to customers accurately and loudly.
However, it's also important to tell customers that shipping cutoff dates are not one-size-fits all. Since you know where your customers are located, use geography to communicate what the shipping cutoff means to them. For example, customers who are one shipping zone away from your warehouse will receive their goods much faster than a customer across the country.
Take a hard look at how far you're willing to go to drive last-minute sales. Beyond offering expedited shipping options at a higher cost, examine what you can do to provide an upgraded shipping opportunity without charging the customer.
Evaluate the value of getting that last sale. Think beyond the season and understand ROI around acquiring that customer. It may be worth it to eat costs now if you can acquire customers based on their long-term value over the next year. As an organization, you should have a strategic plan in place regarding investment in customer acquisition that drives long-term value.
2. Maximizing last-minute sales. As the days on the calendar creep toward December 25, it's important to install last-minute mechanisms into the website to ensure you're maximizing sales through the end of the holiday period.
One way to do this is to offer digital gift cards available throughout the season, and prominently display the program across acquisition channels to keep gift-giving top of mind. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, always let customers know that they can also find last-minute gifts at your nearest store. You also can create a sense of urgency by emphasizing store hours on the website.
3. Be creative with merchandising and discounts. To clear excess inventory, it's not too late to highlight potential "deal of the day" or flash sale products that haven't moved throughout the season. Be creative with your merchandising by highlighting products that haven't sold as well as you expected.
You should also get creative with your discounts. For instance, give the customer a reason to come back when the holiday season is over. In order to encourage repeat business, offer a percentage off discount that is redeemable in January.
Do your due diligence surrounding ROI and margin. For example, try offering $20 off a $50 purchase in January for a customer that makes a purchase over $50 in the remaining days of the holiday shopping season. You will take less of a hit if you spread the discount over a total purchase volume of greater than $100. And the discount may be the reason the customer chooses you over a competitor after the holidays.
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Nathan Richter advises top enterprise clients including Best Buy, QVC, Urban Outfitters, Sports Authority, and PETCO on website optimization. A veteran of digital marketing and online retailing, Richter has extensive hands-on experience helping enterprise clients implement successful multichannel marketing campaigns. Richter has directed online marketing and site optimization programs for David’s Bridal, QVC, The Franklin Mint, and dELiA's.