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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Post Christmas Sales or Slowdown - What Next?

If your online business has been like eCorner's then the lead up to Christmas has been hectic. Don't get me wrong it is very nice to be busy and seeing the business come in. For many retailers and online stores it has now started to slow down. Online stores will find it difficult to take new orders and guarantee delivery before Christmas. So now is a great time to clean up, repair and refresh.

Many online retailers  are looking to the post-Christmas sales period to clear that extra stock. So what can we do to help in that process?

Marked Down Prices

One of the very simplest ways to communicate specials to your customers is using "marked down" prices. It is effective and easy to do. Your online store software should have a capability to show RRP (recommended retail price) versus Marked Down price. This can be highlighted on home page specials or maybe a unique Post Christmas Specials category. Using a strike out can also help you emphasis the price change.

Promotional Product Bundles and Free Gifts

Do you happen to have some products that you bought for Christmas that really didn't move. Don't worry you are not the only retailer who has that problem. Generally the issue is that even after Christmas and with deep discounts these still will not sell. So why not think a little laterally. For instance create a product bundle with another product and offer the no seller as a free gift. This may enable you to hold up the price of the main product. As an example if you had some impressive pink ties that just did not sell then add them to a shirt as a "shirt and tie" bundle. The combined price might be the same as the RRP for the shirt and the website would show the bundle with the free gift and the value saved based on the RRP of the combined products. Bundles can be a very effective way to move some stale stock items.

One thing to remember when bundling products is to make sure that they generally fit in the same package. So think about size and shipping cost when creating your promotional bundles.

Free Shipping

Shipping cost is one of the main causes for shopping cart abandonment. In recent surveys it accounted for 70% of all shopping cart abandonment. But on the positive side when you are offered free shipping you feel like you are getting a bonus. Most good online store software will let you create a "free shipping" method and will also let you force a shipping method to a product. So consider Free Shipping as an alternative to a discount.

Coupons and Newsletters - Why Just Once?

You most likely sent out lots of promotional newsletters pre-Christmas to let your regular customers know what was on sale. Now its time to do that again post Christmas. However consider adding a coupon to your newsletter that offers some value discount or percentage discount or free shipping. Many online store owners will create coupons that can be used once but why? Send the coupon out to your customers and tell them to pass it around to the friends, the more the merrier! You can set the coupons to expire say in 30 days but be used as often as they can be within that time frame. It just means more sales and if you track your coupons back to the original customer then send them a gift or just say thanks for the extra business.

What about moving stale stock on eBay?

It is true that it is more expensive to list and sell a product on eBay than on your own online store. However eBay is doing all the promotion and marketing for your product and business. Generally this will be much more than you do yourself. So consider taking your online shop specials and also listing them on eBay. Good online shop systems will integrate seamlessly with eBay enabling you to sell on shop and on eBay. The products listed on eBay may be seen by millions of visitors. On eBay you will have more competition but if you have long-tail products or if you have great prices or an exceptional value proposition, like maybe free shipping or promotional bundles, then your products will sell.

Clean Up Your Website and Adwords

Going into the new year you need to get rid of all that Christmas content, keywords and images etc that you added to the online store. Many of you would have started and ran special Search Engine Marketing Pay Per Click (SEM PPC) campaigns before Christmas. Now its time to stop those and get rid of the Christmas keywords. It is surprising how many PPC campaigns that you see after Christmas still promoting Christmas offers like "guaranteed delivery before Christmas".

Make sure that your stock levels are up to date and remove sold stock from your website. It is often very hard to get new stock delivered just after Christmas as many suppliers close down. So don't run the risk of selling a product you cannot deliver.

After all the post Christmas sales finish then consider a refresh of your web content and home page to welcome your customers into the new year.

I hope all that helps you improve your business and revenue from your online store.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all at eCorner.
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