For many online retailers, event days are the most important parts of their annual promotional calendar. In recent years, we’ve seen over 30% of the year’s online sales happen during the last quarter of the year alone. Doing well through November’s big events – Click Frenzy, Singles’ Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday - sets a retailer up for a good run into Christmas and a great finish to 2023.
As consumers and businesses alike, we are all pleased to welcome the return of pre-pandemic routines like international travel and the lifting of isolation guidance, meanwhile new concerns have been top of mind; like inflation and cost of living. Retailers should plan around the current environment to put your best foot forward.
This article is updated annually, to provide useful tips to help you use shopping event days to attract new shoppers and to grow the value of your existing customers.
- Have a plan. There’s no successful sales event without a plan. What is your goal? Revenue? Profit? Customer acquisition? Selling excess stock? A clear goal will help determine the right deals and promotions.
- Know your product margins. Understanding your product margins lets you know what can be discounted and by how much. Compared to previous years, 2023 is seeing consumers invest more time to really do their research before making a purchase. Discounting products to get customers in, or to make an additional purchase, is a great short-term tactic but it can’t be sustained over time.
- Consider your portfolio of offers. In 2023’s high inflation environment we’ve seen shoppers spending their money on essential items, like groceries, health products and home improvement. Offering these types of products, at discounted prices, could be very enticing for many shoppers. For others, the chance to buy non-essential ‘luxury’ items on sales may be even more enticing. Consider the mix of offers to reach both groups.
- Make a few ‘What if’ plans. Consider a number of scenarios and how you’d deal with them. What if you sell out too quickly – can you restock? Can your team cope with demand? After doing the hard work with events you don’t want to be in a position where you can’t meet customer expectations.
- Prepare customers to buy. Customers don’t switch on to an event on the day. They research well ahead. So, make sure they know your sale is coming to build anticipation. The more you can prime them, the more they’ll come to your store, instead of a competitor's. Start with existing customers. It could be a first chance to shop for exclusive stock or bundles. It doesn’t have to be a big discount, just something that shows them you value them.
- Your website & mobile optimisation is everything. How it looks, how it loads, and how it copes with the demand will drive how your customers experience you. Ideally, it has been stress tested throughout the year. Make sure it can handle the upcoming load and is set up for mobile. If it doesn’t work well on mobile, you risk losing a whole generation of customers.
- Cut through the clutter. In recent years we’ve seen retailers start their event day promotions earlier and run them for much longer to create space for their messages to get through. Remember, it’s a busy time for advertising so think about engaging messages that will grab shoppers’ attention. Focus on standout banners, hero images, headlines and calls to action that are clear and compelling enough to entice shoppers to want to find out more. For more marketing tips read our Effective Online Marketing Thinking article.
- Consider the experience. The delivery experience first-time customers have may determine if they come back and shop with you again. Think about having a range of delivery speeds and price points, including pick up options if possible. Think about the packaging and the impression that makes to the growing number of customers who care about sustainability. And make your returns policy clear, removing a common barrier to buying. See our article on Creating a Great Delivery Experience for more helpful tips.
- Track everything. Set up tracking on your website with good analytics that show you how your marketing is performing. Understand where customers came from, how they found you, what they looked at and what they bought. There are apps that let you see how many of your site visits are converting to sales. Some help you identify what pages are working, while others can tell you where customers are getting stuck, or abandoning their cart. There are plenty of smart tools out there to build your understanding about what is, and isn’t, working. This knowledge will be invaluable in planning for next year’s promotion.
- Think long-term value. The true value of a tactical event day promotion is the long-term value you can derive from customers. Event days don’t just drive one-off sales but also create the opportunity for more shoppers to experience your products and to become loyal customers. They are a powerful acquisition tool, but always plan how you’ll follow them up by engaging with new customers, turning them into loyal regular shoppers and advocates for your online store. Customer lifetime value is a useful tool to consider and can be built into your sales strategy.
Investing in event days has been a rewarding exercise for many online retailers in recent years. We hope that, with the help of these tips, 2023’s sales events are hugely successful for you and your customers.