Commerce Strategies for the Holiday Season

The holiday season can truly make or break a company’s year-end revenue prospects.  With online consumers projected to spend an accumulative $877 billion dollars in the last three month of 2011, many retailers are counting on the holiday season to bring in a substantial share of their annual revenue. This means that your competitors, as well as your consumers, are already out there planning and strategizing their retail plans.

Bring Good Cheer with Good Deals
Consumers are looking to buy at this time of year, but they also expect seasonal promotions and incentives. How will your business offer holiday goodies without breaking the bank? A good way is to leverage second-tier products as promotional pieces to encourage customers to make their purchases.  Bottom line: offering a low-cost incentive to your consumers will achieve the same gratification as a giveaway while also keeping your customers coming back for seconds.

Mingle in Social Media this Holiday Season

Recognizing how to manage and leverage customer loyalty on your social media platforms will not only increase your brand presence over the holidays, but also reap tremendous benefits throughout the New Year.  Social media allows you to interact with your consumers on one of the most dynamic platforms available. Your most ardent fans, brand opponents and casual observers share this interesting space; your voice should not be missing from that group.  During the holidays your business should be creating consistently interesting “insider” content and promotions for your Facebook and Twitter (amongst others) pages.  You should also leverage these platforms for your customer service needs, especially during this hectic season when many customers are stressed from the general madness of holiday shopping.  Finally, be sure to spoil your brand supporters and existing consumers regularly with an engaged and proactive presence online as it will serve to promote more good cheer amongst their social circles. This will motivate those happy “influencer” elves to tirelessly spread your positive brand image.

Achieve International Good Will
For some U.S. e-commerce businesses, international consumers may not make up the bulk of their core sales, but they do provide a substantive jump in revenue during the holidays. Consumer’s perceptions of cross-barrier e- commerce have drastically improved in the last few years, and the millions of international consumers now represent power buyers in the U.S. markets. In fact, international orders are often not only high volume with high AOV, but also result in fewer returns.

To ensure that your business is ready for the global marketplace, review your technology and services platforms to guarantee that you don’t run into any logistical challenges during this busy season. Ensure that the customer service team is prepared to address international shoppers for any issues regarding returns, shipping inquiries, payment options and potential custom surcharges.  After all, Santa delivers globally — why shouldn’t your business?

Make It Merry with Mobile
Last year, more than half of smartphone owners utilized their mobile devices to review products, take advantage of promotions and make purchases during the holiday season [iii] . This number will only increase in 2011. To stay in front of your consumers this holiday season, make sure that your e-commerce store is mobile-friendly.  Simplify the purchase process with a straightforward (and secure) checkout process.

Then, utilize that platform for exclusive mobile features such as check-ins, GPS localization, SMS offers, or mobile store promotions via emails. If you have some time, you can also create a mobile application specifically for the season, which will directly drive product interest and sales. Some suggestions are product recommendation applications, gift lists, mobile loyalty programs, and QR codes for promotions. Optimize a shopper’s mobile experience and they will look to your store for impulsive mobile purchases moving forward.

Implemented correctly and with the proper timing, these holiday strategies will drastically improve your bottom-line. This time of year, that’s the best gift of all.