As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Q4 shopping season has become more important than ever before for many retailers around the world.
Stretching from October until the New Year, this shopping period is normally one of the most crucial and lucrative times of the year anyway but, now with the uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic, it’s become even more difficult to tell how exactly it’s going to pan out.
As a result of this, if you’re a business owner, having a detailed Q4 retail strategy in place is absolutely vital – and not just from a consumer point of view.
Now, because of the lack of in-person shopping, eCommerce-focused businesses need to think of effective ways to combat the potential loss of profit that could ensue over the Christmas period. In effect, you need to make your business COVID-proof both in time for Christmas itself and afterwards as well.
Listed below are a few tips on how to do exactly that – keeping your business safe from the health, physical and practical effects of the coronavirus pandemic throughout the Q4 period.
Being completely frank about it, the digital channel is effectively serving as many retailer’s lifeboat right now. And that isn’t something that looks set to change any time soon.
With many stores either fully or partially closed and shoppers wisely opting to prioritise their health, safeguard their credit score and reduce their overall spending, eCommerce has fast become the focal point of many businesses; utilising a sudden rise of consumers with little choice other than to browse online.
However, this movement towards online isn’t anything especially new, as research has found that many consumers actually prefer shopping online anyway – regardless of the global pandemic.
And, despite many looking for ways to pinch the pennies at Christmas, online sales have actually been continuously growing year on year over the past few decades, leading businesses globally to gradually alter their approach to sales, marketing and advertising.
This year is no exception to the rule and, in fact, looks set to be even more profitable from an eCommerce perspective; following a survey by the Japanese electronic eCommerce company Rakuten, 73% of consumers were found to be planning to primarily carry out their holiday shopping online rather than any other means.
This, coupled with the fact that online shopping is estimated to account for a 15% incremental rise in retail sales each year, as well as the fact that eCommerce sales opportunities are expected to account for £3.5 trillion in global sales by 2021, is reason enough to not only make online your priority over the coming months but the coming years as well.
Think About Shipping
While on the topic of online shopping, research into the reasons behind cart abandonment has found that shipping was one of the key reasons as to why shoppers didn’t see their purchase through. Therefore, when it comes to setting your business up for the Q4 period, it’s important to consider how you send your goods out to consumers.
Avoid any type of delivery service which increases the price of the order substantially. Similarly, avoid offering a delivery service that will take forever to arrive.
Customers look for two key things when shopping online: immediacy and convenience. Especially over the Christmas period, when there is a lot of competition and deals to take advantage of, providing them with this on a plate can make all the difference between your business making a conversion or not.
Source: Edkent Media
Talking of deals, offering incentives to customers is one of the best ways to ensure they utilise your services over the Christmas period.
Whether it be through a discount code, cut prices on products or a buy-one-get-one-free style sale, there are a number of different incentives to think about providing to your customers, so try to think what would suit your business model best.
Being successful when it comes to offering incentives largely comes through having a foolproof marketing strategy in place, with email marketing and social media campaigns highly effective at both informing customers about deals in the first place, and providing a platform to engage with them as well.
While you might not think it, word of mouth is still a highly effective tool to utilise when it comes to driving sales and safeguarding your business, after all. Therefore, by providing your consumers with the best service possible, once the Q4 period is finished, they will be more likely to remember to use your services again and again in the future.
Rethink Your Target Audience
With more customers shopping online and engaging with brands in new ways, businesses have new opportunities to think innovatively and connect with customers in new ways over the Christmas period.
As a result of this, it could be wise to rework your working model and recognise that your target audience may have changed over recent months – you will now need to analyse who exactly they are.
The make-up of mobile and eCommerce buyers is very different from how it was a year ago, for example. According to research reported by Facebook, Gen X, Gen Z, Boomers and Millennials have all now adapted to use mobile platforms for their purchases, with a growing number opting for buy-now-pick-up-later and Click & Collect options over traditional purchase means.
As such, this has created a new, potential avenue for eCommerce businesses to exploit when it comes to shaping their Q4 period plans.
By looking at the marketing trends and techniques that work with these generations, and adapting your business model to meet these demands, you could become a lot more profitable as a result.
While the coronavirus pandemic may have created an overwhelming amount of uncertainty for businesses worldwide, it has also allowed them to refine their focus and implement new strategies to help them stay afloat over both the short and long-term.
This will prove especially vital as we head into the Q4 shopping period, where businesses will need to be prepared an increased amount of online demand, a reduced amount of in-person shopping, a gradual adoption towards mobile-based spending and a potentially altered target audience.
Utilising creativity during this time will, therefore, prove pivotal, as will using intuitive consumer marketing techniques. But, by doing exactly that, you’ll not only help keep your business COVID-secure in time for Christmas but well into the New Year as well.
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