With some of our own clients directly in the Christmas retail sector, we began to see a sizeable uptick in sales towards the middle of August, and data from Google backs our anecdotal findings up, showing a clear rise in demand for search terms like “Christmas gifts” from late summer onwards.
You don’t need to sell Christmas trees and decorations to be impacted by the early seasonal increase in demand though. With UK shoppers spreading the cost and starting their Christmas shopping earlier, it’s vital that your seasonal marketing is soft-launched as early as possible and is ready to take centre stage as soon as Black Friday is out of the way.
Remove barriers to purchase
This might sound obvious, but with new payment options like Klarna surging in popularity, it’s important to provide the payment options your customers are looking for.
Shopify makes adding payment options such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay or Klarna easy. Giving customers as many options as possible to purchase removes potential barriers and makes it more likely that products won’t remain forgotten in baskets.
Know your figures
Ramping up your ad spend at this time of year is usually necessary to maintain any kind of visibility amidst the noise of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Winter sales and any number of promotions occurring in the final quarter of the year.
If you’re utilising paid search as part of your sales strategy this winter, with competition and click costs higher than ever, wasted spend is the last thing you’ll want. So now is the time to get your Google campaigns streamlined and fully optimised.
To make the best call on your campaign budgets, you’ll need a firm grip on your figures, namely your return on your ad spend. If your average conversion is worth £25 and your average cost per conversion is above, or even close to that, you will want to make further campaign optimisation a priority.
You’ll also want to compare the relative costs of all your conversion sources. A deep dive into Google Analytics could reveal an unexpectedly cost-effective source of conversions, so focusing more of your advertising spend in that direction could provide better results.
Provide deals and build in a sense of urgency
If you aren’t making the best possible use of automated emails to help you recover abandoned baskets, now is the time to utilise in-built Shopify automation tools and make the most of sophisticated platforms like Klayvio to turbocharge your communications.
Now is a great time to be proactive too, so make the most of your mailing list and get busy with your customer outreach. At this time of year messaging that creates a sense of urgency and plays into the impulse-buying frenzy of the season could be a smart tactic.
From payday weekend deals that last for just a few days, flash sales or discount codes that are made available for a short time, are all sales methods that can bring forward planned purchases and increase the likelihood of impulse buys being made.
Consider too that paradoxically, discounts can also encourage people to spend more than they might have done if items were full price, a tactic that could end up boosting your average basket value.
Research from Mintel reports that nearly half of Christmas shoppers in 2022 purchased more gifts on discount than they usually do, suggesting consumers becoming less inclined to pay full price. Even if discounting isn’t a usual strategy for you, creating offers that add value are more important than ever.
Optimise your site search
When you have a large inventory, keeping track of which collections products can be found in should be regarded as an ongoing task. You’ll want to make sure that products can be found through the most logical sitelinks and also when customers use your keyword site search tool.
It’s common for new products to be added manually or automatically to “just in” or “what’s new” collections and perhaps to the main category they belong in, but don’t overlook additional collections that may be organised by price, colour, gender or any other attribute.
For the ultimate in ease, you’ll want to create automated collections but for maximum control, you may want to manually create collections. Just remember they’ll take more upkeep and will need to be reviewed regularly to ensure products are still relevant and can be located in the most obvious place.
Strategically, you may choose to show out-of-stock or sold-out products in search results and you might choose to enable partial matches, though this largely depends on the size of your range and the nature of the products you sell.
For a client selling “red Stylecraft DK yarn” allowing a partial match of words like “yarn” or “red” etc. could result in a bewildering array of products with little relevance, leading to a frustrating experience for shoppers.
Landing pages and seasonal imagery
Most retailers can find a way to make their products seasonally relevant and whilst a Christmas gift guide with an attractive landing page is the obvious choice, think seasonal homewares, decorations, lifestyle products and anything at all that’s winter-related.
Consumers often wait with bated breath for big brands to drop their Christmas ads and when they visit websites, they expect to see seasonal imagery.
Far from being just a gimmick, seasonal imagery can not only make shoppers feel good, but it can increase the persuasive effectiveness of a brand’s communications, drawing them in and priming them to get into the Christmas shopping groove.
Make Christmas your priority, now
With the ongoing cost of living crisis, cash-strapped families are being forced to start their Christmas shopping earlier and earlier. According to Mintel, data collected on UK Christmas shopping trends for 2022 shows that whilst the majority of festive shopping begins in earnest at the start of November, a substantial quarter of people start in September or earlier.
The evidence is clear. The later you leave your preparations and festive campaign launches, the more likely it is that potential customers will buy elsewhere.