The run-up to Christmas is a hectic and challenging time for retailers – both online and on the high street.

With competition intensifying, getting your plan of attack right is vital. This gives your business the best chance to fully capitalise on the opportunities the festive season presents.

One thing that can help predict what might be effective is analysing trends around retail at Christmas. So while having a think about your Christmas decorations and how big your Christmas tree should be this year, it might prove more effective to get a better idea of how are people actually shopping. Where are they searching for gift ideas? What is different this shopping season to the year previous? 

By doing this well ahead of the time of year in question, retailers can formulate strong B2B marketing and B2C marketing plans that can transform how successful their Christmas sales prove to be.

Analyse and Optimise

Consumer insight leaders Hitwise have previously conducted research that sheds light on some of the interesting trends noted in the final quarter of the year.

This included a drop in like-for-like sales in October, higher conversion rates in December and a large increase in sales in the week before the 25th December(*) as people search frantically for that perfect Christmas gift.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are other big retail events in the year’s final quarter that fall into the general Christmas build-up. However, Hitwise found that conversions are actually remarkable lower here than in the days and weeks leading into Christmas.

If you’re a retailer that has a chance to optimise your sales campaigns for Black Friday, consider how visitors to your site could be converted. For example, Amazon has scored a 15% year-on-year rise in the number of conversions it saw on Cyber Monday. This indicates the potential this event presents to retailers who get it right and combine great deals with great tactics.

Optimising your website or running specific campaigns can not only help bring more people to your site, but also see more converting into customers. If you can successfully do this, you could gain an advantage over the competition.

The Rise of ‘Last Minuters’

In today’s age of retail convenience, last minute shoppers are on the rise. In fact, according to  Google and Ipsos, as many as 70% of shoppers confess to not having all their Christmas shopping done with only a week until Christmas.

Consider what this type of shopper is looking for and what you can offer to them that will increase the likelihood of a sale. Free shipping possibly to reduce last minute costs? Gift cards to let the recipient do the deciding? 

Services such as Amazon Prime come into their own here, so you need to be as competitive and as accommodating as you can be.

Time is clearly of the essence, so make sure your sites are optimised, and look to push items and promotions that are likely to land with this demographic.

Big Players Still Big

In 2017, the top 10 retail domains accounted for a staggering 45% of all retail traffic. This is similar to the year before, with 8 of the top 10 big players from 2016 still being in that elite group in 2017.

Multi-category retailers are also enjoying a huge share of online shopping traffic, making it trickier for ostensibly smaller, more specialist players to win a larger market share.

As a way of fighting back, many companies have revolutionised their approach to online retail with success.

Matalan has seen major growth by investing in its online platforms, while companies like Pretty Little Thing and Gymshark have capitalised on the potential of social media to garner growth. And HelloFresh is an example of a company using an innovative business model to transform itself in this tricky modern retail space.

This shows that though the big players are likely to remain as such, there’s no reason not to try to innovate and think outside the box – particularly in the run up to Christmas when getting your tactics right can reap larger rewards.

What Else to Consider

Countless studies have found that the majority of online retail searches start on Google or Amazon. So neglect these channels at your peril – especially with the potential voice search has.

Make sure your company and products appear in the right places as the big Christmas shopping wave hits. Also, consider what a technical SEO audit or PPC campaign might bring to your business.

Considering a PPC campaign? At Williams Commerce, we can help.

The retail landscape is also changing. GDPR is now here, and online retail is on the rise. These factors and others mean that prioritising your digital marketing and having an established strategy can be a key differentiator.

Retailers should start to look to get more granular in their approach. Data analysis around page views, conversions and other critical information can give you better insight into how people are using your site. This can then offer possible ways to convert them into customers if they aren’t already.

Also, look to profile who is interested in products and when. Did certain products fly out the door in the week before Christmas last year? If so, how can you capitalise on this again in 2018?

Additionally, take a look at what time of day people are using your site in these busy retail times. If numbers are comparatively low before 9am for example, don’t schedule your social posts in the early morning.

Look into what the data tells you and make viable, tactical decisions. These could shape how successful you are as a retailer during throughout the build up to Christmas and the month of December 2019.

Williams Commerce can help you optimise your ecommerce website. Get in touch with one of our team today and take a positive step for your business.

*Research taken from Q4 2017