The regular complaint that Christmas seems to start earlier every year is more true in 2020, with IMRG (the UK’s online retail association) claiming online sales volumes will be “really very excessive” this year, and encouraging people to shop earlier. With the potential that physical stores may face local lockdowns, this will further drive people online.

Even if you’re not an online retailer, getting prepared for the Christmas season should start early.

  • Opening Hours – Whether a shop, restaurant, or online-only business, having clear opening hours on your site really helps potential customers. And don’t forget opening dates, especially for the awkward time between Christmas and New Year, or for any late-night opening events.
  • Last Delivery Dates – With the likelihood of a large increase in the amount of parcels going through couriers this year, knowing the last guaranteed delivery date is going to be important and, again, make sure it’s clearly published on the site to avoid disappointed/angry customers.
  • Changing product trends? – With a lot more home working, fewer holidays abroad, and likely less households getting together over Christmas are your best sellers going to change compared to last year?
  • Customer Services – Are there better ways you can communicate with your customers – live chat maybe, or even using WhatsApp?
  • Black Friday / Cyber Monday – This really isn’t an American trend I’m a fan of, but are your competitors likely to be running a BFCM offer to bag some extra sales? And if so how can you compete? Store wide discounts aren’t always the most engaging unless it’s a massive offer, so could you set a threshold that people need to spend before offering a discount, or a different offer each day to keep things fresh?
  • Engage Existing Customers – Inboxes will be awash with newsletters, and social media full of tempting offers in November and December. Start planning your marketing efforts now so you can hit the ground running.
  • A Customer’s for Life, Not Just For Christmas – Can you continue to engage customers into 2021 via newsletters, social media or retargeting them via online ads?
  • Stay Agile – It’s depressing to say, but make some contingency plans for local lockdowns, staff shortages and courier disruption.
  • Safe Shopping – This applies to both online and offline shopping this year. Boots have announced out of hours shopping for the over 60s, and many stores are offering local contactless delivery, or click and collect to take the stress out of shopping.

It’s a stressful time for everyone, but this is just a small reminder to get ahead of the game and make the most of it.

Author: Kris Parker

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