Christmas in July – How To Prepare Your Online Store for Pre-Holiday Shopping

 In Ecommerce, Spotlight

Summer is in full-swing, and it might seem like it’s way too early to start prepping for the holiday shopping season. As it turns out, though, waiting could be a major mistake.

In recent years, the holiday shopping rush has gotten earlier and earlier. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2016 Halloween Spending Expectations Survey, 4% of consumers start shopping for holiday gifts in October, 29% start in September and 5% start even earlier than that – during the summer months!

As such, it’s never too early to start preparing.

With Amazon running Prime Day in the middle of July, and with more retailers gearing up for the pre-holiday and holiday shopping rushes, it’s essential to keep ecommerce holiday marketing on your mind all year round.

Here’s what you need to know to prepare (as early as possible) for this year’s big shopping season.

The Effect of Changing Consumer

While the holiday shopping seasons have gotten earlier, they’ve also gotten larger. According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 20%-40% of yearly sales for SMBs take place in the last two months of the year, and holiday ecommerce sales grew 15.8% between 2015 and 2016.

As you prepare for the holiday shopping season, it’s also worth considering the other seasons that go hand-in-hand with holiday shopping. Namely, returns season (which runs from December to January), party season, which runs from January into February, and THE season for holiday promotions: March, April, and May.

Don’t quite believe those months will be your big hitters?

Consider the fact that St. Patrick’s Day recently reached the highest level of spending in the entire 14-year history of the National Retail Federation.

As you move through your holiday preparations, make sure not to forget about Black Friday and Cyber Monday! Don’t dedicate all your time to them, though: while they remain important shopping holidays, they’re no longer the primary events to focus on.

5 Tips to Make the Most of Christmas in July

Once you’re done sipping lemonade and watching fireworks light up the sky, it’s time to get to work on your ecommerce holiday marketing. Here are five tips to win at the process this year.

1. Conduct Market Research

Right now, consumer shopping habits are changing every second, and it’s never safe to assume that the approach you took last year will work this year. Instead, you’ve got to take a proactive approach to get the best possible results for each season.

With this in mind, look at the data and market statistics in your industry and pull together some information about how your target customers intend to purchase this year.

The National Retail Federation’s Holiday Headquarters is a great place to find projections about the upcoming holiday season as well as data on past shopping season.

2. Hone Your Marketing Plan

Take some time now to define your marketing goals, lay out areas you want to emphasize, create a budget, and sketch out your plans for breaking into new types of marketing, like online advertisements or print placements.

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to develop a marketing calendar. Having a bulletproof content calendar is especially important during the holiday shopping season, as planning is everything.

In 2016, for example, Hanukkah started on Christmas Eve. This provided a larger sales window for retailers selling Hanukkah gift and offered an essential opportunity for publicity. Retailers who hadn’t plotted their calendars in advance would have missed the opportunity, and suffered lower bottom lines, as a result.

Create your content calendar by working backward from big holiday dates to determine what you want to focus on and when the material associated with it should go live. This allows you to take a proactive approach to holiday marketing, and ensure you’re hitting all your major dates just right

3. Develop Marketing Materials

Flesh out your holiday marketing plan by taking some time to develop marketing materials right now. Being proactive in your marketing and advertising materials has several major benefits. First, it prevents the end-of-year rush. Secondly, you’ll have an easier time finding graphic designers, copywriters, and other specialists to help you. You’ll also have plenty of time to fine-tune created materials and plan holiday PR pushes.

4. Look at Previous Campaigns

Knock your sales out of the park this year by taking an honest look at how well you did last year. Ideally, you’ve tracked your results with marketing codes, analytics, or other tools, and you know what worked and what didn’t.

If you look back at these things and notice that one type of marketing was ineffective, scrap the approach and create a new plan for the upcoming shopping season. (Hint-hint: ReadyCloud’s robust reporting and cross-channel data give you immediate insights into the seasonality of your sales, your customer buying habits, trends and more, so you can make the most of this year’s shopping season).

5. Make a Promotion Plan

If you’re interested in promoting products or services, now is the time to consider which items you’ll focus on and make a plan for when you’ll push them.

The best way to approach this is to consider which of your products would naturally see a boost in sales around the holiday season. From there, you can develop a plan for how and when to promote the items that will be your holiday’s hottest sellers.

Christmas in July: Prepare Now, Win Later

While it might seem early to start preparing for the holiday shopping rush, things have changed for the better in the world of online commerce.

Today, shoppers start buying earlier than ever before, which means ecommerce retailers can start preparing earlier than ever before. Planning is essential when it comes to ecommerce holiday marketing. This is one industry where the early bird really does get the worm.

By taking the tips in this post and putting them into play in July and throughout the summer, you can avoid the holiday preparation rush and boost your sales throughout the peak shopping seasons and beyond.

To give you a head start, take a look at this infographic we’ve created. It’s packed with marketing tips you can use to get more sales at your online store.

Christmas in July

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