Calm Before the Storm: Why Columbus Day is “Be Prepared Day” for Online Retailers

Columbus Day in ecommerce starts the rapid shift into the holiday shopping rush and is commonly referred to as "Be Prepared" Day. Here's what you need to know.

In the world of ecommerce, there are dozens of big shopping days retailers bend over backward to be prepared for. Take Black Friday, for example, or Cyber Monday.

What about Columbus Day, though?

As it stands now, most online retailers refer to this day as “Be Prepared Day” because it begins the rush of online holiday orders. Those holiday orders will stream in nonstop for retailers from now until the end of December, when the returns season starts and the showrooming and webrooming set in in full force.

If you’ve ever wondered how you should be preparing for Columbus Day, or what approach you’ll want to take to this innocuous shopping holiday, here’s your complete breakdown:

Why Columbus Day Matters

Columbus Day falls on October 10 and is the last major U.S. holiday before the big holidays roll in, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday. Because of this, many retailers use Columbus Day as a launch point for their sales, promotions, and outreach efforts.

Of course, two major online shopping holidays are just around the corner. These include, Halloween, which is just 21 days later, and Thanksgiving comes along quickly after that. If you’re planning to kick off holiday sales with Columbus Day this year, be sure to start preparing now, as advance preparation is one of the best ways to ensure ongoing success.

How to Prepare for Columbus Day

If you’ve ever struggled to figure out how to prepare your store for pre-holiday shopping, we’re here to help. Here’s a breakdown of some smart things you can do to prep your store for holiday shopping before the holiday season descends upon us:

1. Do Some Market Research

Conducting market research is an essential tip when it comes to preparing your store for pre-holiday shopping. Because consumer habits are changing so rapidly, it’s never safe to assume that you can launch into a new campaign without first doing your research to ensure you’re on the right track. After all, the approach you took last year might not work this year!

Instead, look at data and cross-channel ecommerce market statistics in your industry and work to pull together some information about how your target customers plan to shop this year. For example, will they be online or in-store? What approaches can you take to reach them as effectively as possible?

2. Prepare Your Marketing Materials

Use the weeks before Columbus Day’s shopping kickoff to prepare your marketing materials and get ready to launch them.

When you’re as proactive as possible with your marketing and advertising, you have the option of editing and improving them ahead of time, ensuring they reach your target audience and support your primary marketing objectives, and do what they can to promote your goals and objectives.

Developing your marketing materials ahead of time also allows you to schedule them out and ensure you’re not missing any substantial marketing opportunities. To give you a head start, make sure you review these 2018 ecommerce marketing statistics, so you’re a step of ahead of the game.

3. Plan Your Promotions

What kind of promotions will you allow on Columbus Day? How will those dovetail with your other campaigns or efforts throughout the holiday season? Is there a method of continuity throughout your promotional efforts? Are you promoting a single product, good, or service? Are you offering a discount?

By planning these promotions in advance, you can find ways to support overall objectives, like creating movement in products that tend to stay on the shelves or creating a cross-channel marketing plan that primes your online store for holiday webroomers and showroomers to support your overall sales goals.

4. Consider Your Distribution Platforms

How will you showcase your Columbus Day efforts? Are you using your social platforms? If so, which ones? Twitter and Pinterest are both great options and will help you expand your reach. You can also explore options like Instagram ads and Facebook store plugins to promote your marketing efforts and expand your reach around your Columbus Day sales.

Don’t overlook the power of digital coupons, either, which can help you secure more sales and attract new customers by offer an urgency-based value redemption that has been shown to increase average order value exponentially.

5. Write an Email Marketing Template

Writing a Columbus Day email template is a great way to prepare yourself for the marketing push that comes with the holiday. With that in mind, spend some time now crafting an email template to get you through the holiday season.

No matter what your sales or promotions goals are, your email template should include a CTA, referral bonus or other promotion, and a headline that inspires and excites readers. Recent email marketing statistics show strong open rates and healthy conversion ratios that you can tap into this holiday season.

To give you a head start, make sure you take look at these 6 simple ecommerce marketing tips that can help you drive new sales and stronger engagement.

Columbus Day Marketing Simplified

Columbus Day is an often-overlooked online shopping holiday that holds great potential for anyone who pays full attention to it.

When you understand the importance of Columbus Day and how it launches you off into the rest of the Holiday festivities, you can prepare adequately for the holiday push and give yourself a serious leg-up to the holiday season that helps you reduce cart abandonment rates and improve conversions across the board.

Planning now is a great way to ensure your goals come off effectively and that you make an effort to support your overall goals and company objectives.

If the fact that you have to get ready for Columbus Day took you by surprise, you might also consider focusing on these major shopping holidays while you’re at it:

  • October 31st – Halloween. Halloween can be a spooky good holiday shopping day for ecommerce companies. Regardless of whether you sell costumes and candy, some killer Halloween deals can help you make the sales you want on the days surrounding this holiday.
  • November 25th – Black Friday. Black Friday is one of the most massive online shopping days of the year and boasts peak conversion rates for the entire year. Don’t miss out on this one. Have a solid Black Friday promotion ready to kick into play as you prepare the rest of your holiday shopping deals.
  • November 28th – Cyber Monday. One of the most popular online shopping holidays of the year, this is when most stores do about 40% of their annual sales in just one day.

Need even more tips? We’ve got you covered with this detailed infographic that will help your online store prepare for the holiday showrooming and webrooming that’s yet to come.

Infographic: 2018 Webrooming Statistics

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