The fall brings along a lot of cheer in the air. It ends the summer woes and fills our world with pristine snow. The changing season rings in back-to-back festivals; the most wonderful time of the year … (Singing like Andy Williams). The fun Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving, the Holiday season … We always wish the festivity never ends.
For business owners, this season is like discovering a goldmine. 50% boost in sales … The rise in loyal customers … Above all, serving others during festivals feels exhilarating. The economics of Christmas, I tell you! Is this situation rosy for everyone? Sadly, the answer is no, especially for new businesses, the start-ups, and small businesses.
Consumers usually prefer going to known places for festival shopping (including popular spots of flea markets, craft shows, and street stalls). Online shoppers prefer bigger portals like Amazon and eBay. The scenario is changing with more businesses making a mark, but they are still not there yet. Shoppers have an element of trust in their usual sellers and don’t easily switch. So what is it during festivals you can do to gain customers?
#1. There is nothing wrong in tooting the horn
Isn’t marketing and advertising all about the sentence above? Begin aggressive promotion 2-3 weeks before the onset of festive season. Make it loud. Tighten your public relation umbrella to get a warm response. Utilize the power of social media.
A quick tip: If you are an online portal, don’t forget your physical store. Remember, it is the building block for your success.
#2. Brace Up: On Your Mark, Get Set …
The entire brick-and-mortar community has the maximum leverage during the festive season. So go back to basics, from cleaning to an innovative decoration of your store. Keep a great festive display of your website.
Be prepared beforehand to fulfill the demand. Keep an array of new products. Anything new catches attention. Keep in touch with the major suppliers, you are likely to come across a new gem.
Hire more staff. Intimate your existing staff. Make them versed with the product detail, especially the discounted ones. Explain to them the psychology and economics of bargain-buying. Let them be self-efficient to handle pickled situation than approaching you for the smallest issues. Help them learn to resolve situations according to the customer feedback.
Take a right step to deal with customer dissatisfaction.
#3. Be Savvy
Introduce more payment options for better user experience. Bring the most popular payment portals under your roof. Take a hint from the Southeast Asian markets. They have no-card detail modes of payment. These methods are relatively safe, reliable, and quick; and serve a great cash-back offers.
P.S.: Don’t forget to register for SSL certificate.
Green Padlock: You need it for your website to safe-ground your payment option
Work on the website’s page load speed. The website traffic is maddening during the festive season (Site crash can cost you a lot). A bad page loading speed drops the customer engagement rate. Would you continue to browse a site if it loads slowly and gobbles your time? A good website is always user-friendly. Invest in developing a good format. Improve the interface.
Insert pop-ups that compliment your customer’s order. If someone has purchased decoration lights, add a pop-up notification about the type of extension wires you have. It is a good way to keep your website sticky. If you have a help-desk, alert your employees about the surge in inquiries.
P.S: [Don’t (never) forget to tip your staff. Give overtime bonuses for their services during festivals].
#4. Warm Up
Stir curiosity among the customers. Build excitement around your stock. Customers usually check the products beforehand. Give out pre-holiday season offers and weekday flash sales (Even Uber does that). Social media will come in handy. Marketing messages influences the buying behavior.
Every business needs a right sales model. Give away good reward points and cash-back credits during festivals. Have alliances with specific banks and credit card providers. Customers will get extra returns on every purchase. Limited period offers also work wonder for sales figures.
#5. Fill Up
What’s more annoying for a customer than to see sold out tags on the product he wanted? Make a note of your most-sold products. Regulate your inventory and replenish before the stocks exhaust. A surplus stock of hot-selling products never go waste. Strike a deal with the suppliers and distributors. Ask for a bulk-order discount. If you get the products at a lesser rate, you will be able to give more discounts to your consumers.
An online shopper has options from other websites to find same/similar product (which he does most of the times). Track the final price quoted on the rival’s website. If a customer spots something cheaper elsewhere, you can lose him forever.
Have strong tie-ups for delivery. The speed of transition, from dispatch to shipping is crucial during festivals. Inform the delivery portals before hand about the surge in service. Delayed dispatch/delivery of the product accounts to loss of customers.
Here’s a tip. Offer free shipping for the purchase.
#6. Keep an Eye
List your best selling products weeks before the actual sale begins. Probe into details of the products bought often during festivals. Focus your discounts on them. Let your strategies revolve around them.
If the sales figures don’t rise, observe why your customer abandons the product. High price is the most common reason. Use efficient analytics to know the overall impression. Funnel down the probable causes.
A liable tip. Keep an eye on your competitor’s strategies and be a step ahead. They want to acquire your customers, so don’t hesitate or lag behind. It is called a cut-throat competition for a reason. It’s the battle for survival.
Hundreds of customers buy a product after comparing prices, you can never be at loss despite heavy discount.
#7. Say No to Forms
Festivals are not the best time to ask for a feedback. Consider it seriously if you get any. Work on it as soon as you can. Other customers may have a similar grievance too. Present a complimentary gift if they are not satisfied.
Block those bots and shut the plug-ins on your website. See to it that your auto-mail is on a break. Automated feedback forms are a complete no-no.
10 minutes for a survey! Won’t work even when it isn’t the festive season …
Keep only the comment/suggestion box open. No auto-generated responses. Look into the suggestions/comments personally. People stop buying for the most absurd reasons. Once I came across a complaint where the customer wanted a refund as he didn’t like the color of the gift wrap. Give an option to sign your newsletter. Inform them about price-drop on their wish list through the newsletter.
#8. Make the Customers your Brand Ambassadors
A tried and tested strategy that works wonders. Offer your first-time customers shopping cash. Give extra bonus on referring your website. It’s a home-run hit strategy to raise the sales and to save customer’s money. If you are wondering how to afford that? Here’s a simple phrase. An initial investment for multiple returns. Offer special bonus code to loyal customers. The code can be shared with family and friends. Moral of the story: Loyalty benefits for both the parties.
Another bait methodology is cross selling. Sell products that your competitor has. Give them off at a cheaper price. A great way to attract attention and to stay in the competition. It will slowly create a buzz and begin rounds of good word-of-mouth.
Who doesn’t like free gifts? If someone buys shoes, compliment the purchase with a shoe cleaner or a pair of socks. Surprise your customer and you are 180 times more likely to see him again. I came across a website that offered a free pack of dozen muffins on buying their merchandise during the festival sale. Give your customers a loyalty gift for endorsing your website on social media. It is a good way to gain publicity.
#10. Be a Santa for your Customers
Hold competitions and contents. They are an easy climber. ‘Bake a Christmas Cake’, the BBC fame is an apt example. Such competitions give your company free word-of-mouth on social media portals.
Choose your discount strategy wisely. Buy 1 Get 1 Free works better than 50% off (the psychology of getting something free always works).
We buy gifts for our loved ones and for ourselves during the holiday season. It’s not just because of the festive season, but also because these products are available the cheapest at this time of the year. Companies and businesses, if they tap the market correctly, can convert these glorious days into a huge turnover. Companies can gain mileage according to the consumer psychology and the smart buyer’s requirements.
So fellows, get ready. Start preparing yourselves for crowded stores and traffic surge (minus the site crash, of course). October is over!
Images: Author’s Own