Just like many Brick and Mortar retail stores, Online retailers bank on big performance in Q4 to bolster their overall sales performance. According to Internet Retailer, in both 2011 and 2012 online retailers earned on average 35% of their yearly sales in Q4 (https://www.internetretailer.com/2013/04/01/several-major-retailers-grow-online-sales-faster-amazon). With so much riding on a short period of time, it’s important to make sure you avoid the common mistakes that commonly prevent online retailers from maximizing their Q4 sales.
1. Not getting promotional campaigns prepared ahead of time.
As Brick and Mortar retail stores prepare their Black Friday and pre-Christmas promotions months ahead of time, online retailers must be prepared as well. While there may be time savings from not having to prepare printed materials and TV ads, trying to come up with sales, graphics and taglines at the last minute will have your promotions looking unpolished and falling flat. Start early, know what discounts you plan to offer, plan your promotional calendar and create graphics and taglines enough ahead of time to allow for revisions and polishing.
2. Not being prepared for aggressive price competition.
Be prepared for your competition to offer some great deals. Create a flexible plan that will allow you to be quickly responsive to the market, and put some effort towards past research with an eye towards anticipating what your competitors are likely to offer. You’re not going to be the only merchant offering discounts and promotions, so make sure your promotion is unique and appealing.
3. Not leaving enough room in the budget.
If you’re working with an annual budget, make sure to leave some extra for Q4. Not only are sales likely to be higher, traffic will be higher, and cost per click of paid online advertising will be higher. The last thing you want is to run out of budget just as sales start to heat up. Additionally, if you have budgets set in your campaign settings, make sure they’re high enough to cover the extra demand.
4. Not monitoring data close enough.
Predicting your target market’s buying behavior can be difficult, and adding in the unpredictable actions of your competition means that Q4 plans rarely go off without a hitch, and some campaign outperform or underperform wildly. Make sure you’re set up to gather sales data as granularly as possible, and keep a sharp eye as the data comes through, so you can maximize what’s working and cut your losses on what’s not before it’s too late.
5. Making large scale website changes.
The first four mistakes involve not doing certain things, but there is one big aspect that you want to take it easy on in Q4 – making big changes to your website. Even with careful planning and excellent execution, there is risk involved with any big web project. A day or two of down time or functionality loss can result in a much bigger hit to the profits in early December than it would during your slow season, and during certain days of Q4, a few hours can earn as many sales as are earned in multiple days other times of the year. If you’re planning a big website overhaul, it’s best to wait until after the Holiday rush.