There are numerous busy trading periods throughout the year. Most notably, Christmas. But a business’ busy trading periods will all differ based on their industry. At SO we understand how important it is to prepare and plan for these busy trading periods to ensure your business benefits.
Preparing your business for the busy trading periods
Events Preparing your business for the busy trading periods
It’s THAT time of year. The weather is getting colder, and it starts to get darker earlier, we’re heading for the winter months. And what happens in winter, Christmas? Now whether you’re counting down the days to the big day, or ignoring it until the last week, Christmas is an unavoidable holiday and an extremely busy trading period for most businesses.
It usually means sales, promotions, themed websites, new Christmas product launches, and events. But, with all this comes, a lot of preparation. Most businesses put Christmas plans into place even before the summer months have begun.
Not just Christmas…
Of course, it’s not all about Christmas. There are many other busy trading periods throughout the year, for example, black Friday. But this is all dependent on your industry and your industry’s calendar. For example, if you sell school uniforms, then June, July & August are probably very busy. And then some occurrences happen and are not planned for. So it’s vital to ensure your business is prepared for both planned and unplanned busy trading periods, ensuring your customers have a positive experience and become a repeat customers.
What should businesses consider before the busy trading periods?
A cohesive plan.
Where all good campaigns start. A well-thought-out, consistent and informed plan will give you direction and help you make decisions. Did your Christmas dog jumpers sell well last year? What budget do you have available? Which channels bring in the most revenue? It’s all about using your business knowledge to create a plan. Normally this is the most time-consuming part for businesses, but once it’s finalised, with most questions that you’ll have during your campaign, you can just refer back to the plan.
Most businesses eCommerce businesses have a website, where users can purchase products online. And most of these perform fantastically for most of the year, but have you ever experienced a website crash when you have a sale? Can your website cope with an unexpected influx in traffic? Ensuring your website does continue to perform well in this circumstance is vital for ensuring a good user experience, and that users can actually purchase your products.
Having a hosting platform that you can rely on, will determine the success of your sale periods. If users are unable to access the site, because of the level of demand, then they probably won’t stick around. It’s all about making sure that when you see a spike in users, e.g. sale periods, or Christmas, your site is prepared for this. It’d be worth checking with, and seeing how much disk space you have, CPU usage you can manage, and bandwidth you have available too.
Your website’s speed.
A fast and responsive website is vital during busy periods. Often, these times are stressful for users, especially when they’re time pressured into purchasing products. Plus, users not only want but expect instant information when browsing a website. If your website is slow, this could lead to frustration for the user and a missed conversion. Google places great importance on page speed when determining ranking positions on their search engines. That’s why it should be at the forefront of any business’ SEO plan. Especially in the run-up to a busy trading period, like Christmas.
One of the most common ‘offenders’ that can lead to a slow-loading website, is large images. Not the actual image, but rather the file size. Images are ideally as small a file size as possible, whilst maintaining a good image quality for users. We would recommend optimising your images before they are uploaded to your site. As this will remove all of the data that is stored within the image, that you can never see. This will reduce your file size significantly, and allow your website to serve an image, possibly twice as fast, or even quicker.
Cross-selling on your website.
Upsells and cross-sells are great tools for maximising revenue on your website. When users come onto a website looking to purchase, they are either educated and know what product they want. Or, they are not educated and are looking for information to inform their decision. This is where cross-selling and upselling come into play. Making suggestions on what products are best for them, or what goes well with a certain product.
This can help to make the customer journey smoother, and easier, and improve your revenue. Your site will be remembered to offer fantastic customer service and a customer journey. As your site guided them through their purchase and got them value for their money.
Businesses will tend to run ads at different times of the year. Maybe they have a promotion running, or they’ve launched a new product, or even moved offices. Whatever the occasion, paid ads help to create a short-term increase in traffic, and hopefully sales. But if you’re looking to run ads around the festive season, have you considered how bidding changes? Bidding on ‘Christmas jumpers’ as a keyword in august could have an avg CPC of £0.20 for example.
But fast-forward to December bids for the same could have increased to £2.00 a click. It’s important to consider how you’re planning to reach your target customers in busy trading periods and remain within your budget. Plus, ensuring you get a good return on investment.
Whilst most businesses will publish social posts stating their opening hours over busy periods, most don’t communicate on a wider range of commonly asked questions. Many consumers head to social media to get an instant response to their questions, with most wanting a reply within 30 minutes.
As well as posts about your business hours, consider posts about delivery times during busy periods, or how your returns policy work. Provide your customers will the answers to their questions in places they would look e.g. your FAQs, your social media, your website, and in your newsletter. This is especially important for businesses that don’t have someone monitoring their inbox 24/7. A great idea is to set up an automated response, informing your customers that you’ve received their question & when you’ll be in touch with a response.
The majority of businesses will have some kind of sale or promotion going on around the festive season. It’s a way of giving the user another reason to buy from your business, they save a little money. Yet, it’s worth understanding what promotions work for different businesses. ‘Premium Delivery’ as standard may prove a real hit 2 weeks before Christmas, for those who have left shopping until the last minute. Or free gift wrapping on all perfumes bought in December may appeal to those who hate wrapping presents. Here, it’s all about understanding your customer, and knowing which promotions would make them buy, and which promotions they wouldn’t take advantage of.
Getting ready to launch a new product? Have you considered whether around the Christmas period is the best time to do this? Again, it totally depends on your industry. Launching a new ‘stuffing flavoured gravy’, then launching a few months before Christmas sounds like a great idea. It’s relevant to the time of year, and probably has a low enough price point for people to impulse buy it.
However, launching a new range of walking sandals may be a better idea in the spring months. If you’re planning on launching a new product before the festive season, plan way in advance, so you can promote this over your various touchpoints, and enough customers are interested when it comes to shopping for Christmas.
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