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Commerce & Sales Channels

Beyond BFCM: How Seasonal Sales Support Longterm Growth

Commerce & Sales Channels
December 15, 2020
8 min read
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BFCM (Black Friday/Cyber Monday) may get all the media attention, but it’s really only the beginning of the holiday shopping season. These tips will help you think strategically about seasonal peaks in demand to drive year-round growth.

BFCM (Black Friday/Cyber Monday) Is Just the Beginning

This year’s holiday shopping season will start earlier and last longer. The delayed launch of Amazon Prime Day means that peak season begins on October 13, a full 6 weeks ahead of BFCM, the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season.

Although BFCM has historically been lauded as the most profitable weekend of peak season, it’s only the beginning of holiday sales for most merchants. In fact, 54% of holiday shopping is usually completed in the 4 weeks between Black Friday and Christmas day.

72 percent of merchants to start sales earlier, over 60 percent to begin October or earlier before BFCM

BFCM Attracts Bargain Shoppers — Late Holidays, Convenience Shoppers

Last minute shoppers are more likely to stray from their favorite brands to try out new merchants, drawn by convenient offerings like an easy returns process and fast, affordable shipping. Attracting these convenience shoppers by advertising your excellent customer service and speedy delivery will be key to driving revenue in the last few weeks of the holiday shopping season.

Attract post-BFCM shoppers with ads, easy returns, gift cards, easy gift ideas, 2 day shipping, advertising fast shipping

Although all of these tactics are effective in attracting last-minute shoppers, merchants indicated in a recent survey that shipping promises were most effective in actually converting shoppers.

BFCM Cart Conversion Drivers 56 percent free shipping 52 percent 2 day shipping, 29 percent gift, 26 percent discount

Marketing Post BFCM

Consumers shopping online in the final weeks before the holidays will have delivery times top-of-mind. When crafting your paid ads and email campaigns, try to advertise order deadlines in your copy. This will create a sense of urgency in shoppers, especially if you can include the number of shopping days left at strategic points in your campaign. Feel free to set your own deadlines based off of major shipping carriers’ schedules and your fulfillment partner’s service agreements.

Customer expectations around delivery are particularly high around the holidays. Meeting the delivery promises you made in your post-BFCM marketing campaign can mean the difference between a customer interaction gone sour (in the form of bad reviews and avoidable returns) and a loyal customer who recommends your brand to friends and family and on social media.

Leveraging BFCM Data

One major benefit to the rapid digitization of both sales channels and the logistics and fulfillment industries is unprecedented access to data, enabling merchants to analyze successes and failures and strategize for future growth. In fact, new and advanced logistics technology can aggregate sales reporting with fulfillment data, which lends the advantage of essentially having a digital procurement specialist on staff without investing additional resources in your supply chain management.

Aggregating this data will allow you to analyze several variables that may have contributed to the success of your BFCM strategy and decide where to focus your efforts for the next holiday season and beyond.

Geography & Ad Spend

Understanding the geographic distribution of your customer base is key to optimizing your ad spend and inventory distribution (if your fulfillment strategy currently includes a distributed warehouse model). Appropriately stocking  your warehouse network to best serve your largest customer base increases service levels (and in turn, customer satisfaction) and lowers your overall cost to serve.

When assessing the success of your PPC (pay per click) ads by geography, weigh the conversion rate of the ads against the cost per click in that region to get a ground-level view of your profitability. A reasonable conversion rate doesn’t necessarily equal a positive return on investment in an expensive geography. Analyzing at this level allows you to double down on your most successful geos and decide which areas you should pull PPC ads from altogether.

When prioritizing ad spend, weigh the cost of PPC against your conversion rate in a particular geography.

Sales & Promotions

Sales and promotions are part of nearly every successful BFCM strategy, but once the dust has settled, making an in-depth analysis of their success, will help you strategize for future campaigns. Take a look at how any discounts you offered impacted your bottom line. Did lower prices encourage shoppers to buy more, or did you attract more one-off bargain shoppers?

How many net new customers did these promotions win, and how will you take advantage of these new customer relationships to build loyalty and brand preference? A recent consumer survey revealed that 92% of respondents planned to participate in post holiday shopping, with most of them planning to shop again by the end of January. This data indicates that new customers are likely primed for a targeted marketing campaign within the weeks immediately after the holiday season. When reaching back out to these new customers, consider the following tactics:

  • Let your personality shine. 32% of consumers indicated that they are drawn to small businesses by their unique personalities or brand voice. In follow-up communications with your new customers, speak in a clear and distinct brand voice and include links to all of your social media channels.
  • Make product recommendations based on their original purchase. Suggest accessories or companion products to enhance or build upon their experience with your product line.
  • Encourage interaction with your brand’s community. Ask for an online review or a mention on social media with a picture of their purchase “in action”. Be sure to engage with their post whether the feedback is positive or negative to further build a sense of community around your brand.
  • Consider Off-Season Promotions. If any of your holiday promotions were particularly successful, consider creating additional demand peaks throughout the year by offering similar promotions during off-season sales cycles.

Kitting Opportunities

A line item analysis of your BFCM sales data will start to show patterns of items customers frequently buy together. These items could naturally be kitted together to increase AOV by suggesting companion items or accessories that a customer might have otherwise bought elsewhere. The convenience of getting all the items they need with one click can persuade shoppers to spend more on a single order.

Returns Data

Returns processing is the price of doing business, especially on major shopping holidays like BFCM. Data clearly shows that today’s consumers look for a clear and easy returns policy before making a purchase, but returns data can be leveraged to strategize inventory strategy for the following holiday.

Take a look at what percentage of returns were processed before the holiday. Consumer survey data shows that 51% of consumers have purchased a gift and then returned the item before gifting it. What percentage of returns were processed after the holiday, and how long did it take your customers to return them? The same consumer survey showed that 57% of consumers make their holiday returns within 2 weeks of the holidays. If your customers are taking longer than average to make their returns, take a look at your returns process to determine where points of friction in the customer experience may lie. Consumers who took longer to make their returns cited a number of reasons:

BFCM: 40% hassle of Post Office, 28% printing return label, 20% gift receipt, 32% Replacement out of stock

BFCM’s Deeper Value

Most merchants have learned to capitalize on the reliable spike in demand offered by shopping holidays. The most savvy merchants, however, have learned that beyond a bump in top-line revenue, high volume sales also provide valuable data. This data can paint a clear picture of your business’s profitability and help build a road map for future growth.

To learn more about how Ware2Go is helping merchants leverage sales and fulfillment data for long-term growth plans, reach out to one of our logistics experts.

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