The Key to a Winning Holiday Sales Strategy in 2017 | Behalf
In a market where digital rules, today’s holiday shoppers have evolved. Both consumer and business buying behaviors have shifted, as have their expectations for their buying experience. Technology has opened up endless possibilities, particularly for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers who make a sport out of procuring the items on their wish list at the lowest possible price. Sellers have played a significant role in driving this behavioral change among shoppers. In an effort to exhaust their holiday sales potential, merchants have conflated Black Friday and Cyber Monday into a two week sales event, where promotions are endless and competition is fierce. Merchants begin rolling out special offers earlier and earlier each year in their efforts to win holiday shoppers and keep them engaged throughout the season.
Though brick-and-mortar shopping remains a popular seasonal pastime, online sales have grown substantially year after year. The Commerce Department reported online sales growth of 15.1% in 2016 alone. With Black Friday – the unofficial kick-off of the holiday shopping season – just around the corner, Salesforce and other retail organizations have begun releasing their much-anticipated predictions for 2017 holiday sales. While some predictions meet expectations following the trajectory of years past, others are a result of recent developments in shopper behavior and disruption within the market. This article highlights which predictions your company should follow to refine its holiday sales strategy for a record-breaking q4.
Interpreting 2017 Shopper Behavior
Today’s shoppers are well informed; they heavily research products before purchasing them. According to Salesforce, holiday shoppers carry out their research through multiple digital channels, including retail mobile apps; social media; and websites. The way shoppers access the information is also changing. A reported 40% of millennials enlist the help of voice-enabled digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa to research merchandise. Salesforce predicts 60% of total traffic to retail sites will come from mobile devices, as opposed to desktops or tablets. With technology at their fingertips, 2017 shoppers get unmatched visibility and control throughout the eCommerce experience. Consequently, the rift between holiday shoppers and brick-and-mortar establishments continues to grow.
The preference for eCommerce over brick-and-mortar is self-evident in RetailMeNot’s Cyber Monday predictions. The organization projects Cyber Monday will be the real source of growth in sales this year with 17% more shoppers than last year. On the other hand, the volume of shoppers expected on Black Friday stays relatively stable and possibly even declines by a percentage point from last year. Recognizing the shift in shopper behavior, 58% of merchants plan to target online shoppers rather than in-store shoppers. As merchants shift their attention to digital, they confront another set of challenges: specifically, those posed by digital marketplaces like Amazon.
Competing With Digital Marketplaces
Digital marketplaces are notorious for undercutting traditional distributor’s sales with competitive low prices and seamless eCommerce experiences. Though the holidays are a profitable time of year for most sales organizations, digital marketplaces like Amazon take home the biggest share of holiday e-commerce sales. According to Slice Intelligence, Amazon accounted for 38% of holiday sales in 2016. Amazon’s astounding growth shows few signs of letting up, so merchants must account for it in their 2017 holiday sales strategy.
What good is holiday sales growth if only one organization benefits in the market? Traditional distributors need a strong eCommerce strategy for the holidays to engage 2017 shoppers and compete with digital marketplaces. This is especially challenging for merchants within the B2B sector that struggle to bring their clunky procurement processes completely online. For an effective B2B eCommerce solution, read Going Digital: The race to meet B2B customers’ evolving expectations. The B2B sector is at a great advantage towards the end of the year. When companies close their books, many feel pressured to spend the remainder of their budget so they aren’t forced to reduce next year’s budget. The extra spend capacity gives them even greater reason to consider purchasing from your organization.
In the impending months, companies across the B2B and B2C sector need to be sure they are adequately prepared for high sales volume. An air tight holiday sales strategy includes the following:
There is a fine line between competitive discounts and low profitability. Offering the best discounts among your competitors might increase sales, but it can also negatively impact your company’s bottom line. Discounts for the sake of discounts are a slippery slope. Take a more balanced approach to Black Friday and Cyber Monday by using discounts in conjunction with other special offers and services that reward customers for their patronage. For example, extend your company’s return policy so customers can shop confidently for their loved ones.
Promotions can get stale during the holiday season. Employ various marketing initiatives to keep your company top of mind long after Black Friday. Campaign before, during and after holidays so customers remember your brand when it’s time to buy gifts pre-holiday, and spend gift cards post-holiday. A strong, diversified promotions calendar can maximize sales and drive up AOV.
Your company can lose out on potential sales, once items go out of stock. You may need to reallocate your business budget to keep stockrooms full and customers happy. Supplementing your inventory budget with a short term financing solution like Behalf can increase your working capital to stock up on the year’s hottest items.
Businesses across America can expect to see sales increase over the next few months on and offline. Companies that invest time and resources in developing a robust holiday sales strategy, can expect to see major returns this q4.