Join the scrum from relative online safety and increase your Christmas sales Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that ‘Black Friday’ has been in the news this week! Black Friday originates from the United States and is now a very popular yearly retail promotion in the UK. This year, Black Friday takes place on November 27th and more and more retailers have followed suit each year all wanting a piece of this years predicted spend of £1.07billion*. A whole host of stores – except Asda! Who can forget those ridiculous – and often violent scenes – we witnessed on the news last year when shoppers almost crushed each other to death in their stampede to grab a bargain in stores. Seriously, is any product, however hugely discounted really worth getting flattened for, or scratching someone’s eyes out for, or having a full blown scrap in the middle of a shop for? Apparently yes. But actually, Asda have stated that they don’t want to be part of the scrum this year. And I don’t blame them. Black Friday puts a massive amount of pressure on retailers in a very small timeframe and can end in absolute carnage. Asda’s customers want to be offered good value at all times, not just for a limited period, and Asda have actually listened to them. Andy Clarke, Asda’s Chief Executive, said: “The decision to step away from Black Friday is not about the event itself. Over the last two years, we’ve developed an organised, well-executed plan, but this year customers have told us loud and clear that they don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales.” And I think that’s absolutely right. Even the police have already got involved and are warning retailers that they must have enough staff and security to handle seasonal sales, including Black Friday. Deputy Chief Constable Sue Fish said this week: “I urge retail companies and their store managers to ensure that they have sufficient security arrangements.” So crikey – it looks like everyone is on tenterhooks – waiting for it to all kick off! And that’s just the bricks and mortar stores. What about Black Friday online? Obviously as an online seller you can potentially get involved in it all without having to deal with shop floor fights, a trashed store and generally people losing their senses all around you and if you are a seasoned seller, you’ll know that it’s exactly at this time of year that an amazing phenomenon happens… The big, mad rush to spend final pay packets before Christmas! Some of us (me included) don’t want to consider getting involved in the crush, traipsing from shop to shop, queuing for what seems like hours for the must have (and probably already sold out) gadget of the year and arriving back home seven hours later uber-stressed, dishevelled, shadows of our former selves and begging for a large G&T. Some of us prefer to do our Christmas shopping in a rather more civilized manner, from the comfort of our own homes, relaxing in front of a roaring log fire, laptop in one hand, glass of wine in the other, as the dog lies asleep on the rug and seasonal music playing in the background…. Yes, I may have used a little bit of poetic licence there, but you get the general idea. Some of us simply like to take advantage of the relative ease of shopping online. Over the next few weeks’ billions of pounds will be spent by millions of people online as pretty much everyone starts thinking about gifts, food, drink, decorations, new outfits, cards and parties. And that’s why this next piece of information is very important…. Black Friday may be just around the corner but ‘Cyber Monday’ is also almost upon us too and both of these dates are far easier to deal with as an online seller. ‘Cyber Monday’ is a marketing term for the Monday immediately following ‘Black Friday’, so this year ‘Cyber Monday’ falls on Monday 30th November. This day was created by companies in order to persuade people to shop online and was first heard of way back in 2005 when issued a press release entitled “Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”. And…it kind of stuck! And we’re still talking about ‘Cyber Monday’ ten years later. Now, having been selling online for over ten years myself, I am well aware of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and I have to say that in my experience it is always around this date that sales really do start to pick up considerably. This year’s Cyber Monday spend is predicted to be £943million*. So, if I put my ‘buying’ head on for a moment, I usually tend to have a major panic around the end of November, beginning of December when I realise that I ought to start actually purchasing presents! But I’m certainly not unique. There appears to be a collective panic that happens to everyone around this time, and that’s when internet sales rocket, websites crash under the strain of visitors and you might find that the very thing you are looking for has suddenly sold out, even though there were 197 in stock yesterday. That’s why this day is known as ‘Cyber Monday’ or I have also heard it referred to as ‘Manic Monday’ which is definitely more apt. Sellers: You must act now to get in on the online action So, as Monday 30th November is just 17 days away, you absolutely, definitely must get cracking if you want your products to be visible online on what is predicted to be one of the busiest shopping days of 2015. With this in mind, I want to give you some tips for maximising your Christmas sales online so that you can get your products listed right now – either on eBay, Amazon or within your own webstore and hook some of those buyers that will be heading in your direction in a few weeks’ time. 10 Ways to Increase Christmas Orders
  1. If you are selling on eBay and using the ‘Auction’ format, try and add a few additional listings to run alongside your usual ones but at different ending times. This will ensure that your items are reaching the top of the search results throughout the whole day continuously and you will gain some vital extra visibility. Don’t forget that if you are listing duplicate products you will need to get a bid on one before the next listing will show.
  2. Double check your keywords and make sure they are super relevant to your product. If buyers can’t find your items, then you won’t make any sales.
  3. Make sure you appeal to ALL potential customers. Use eBay’s auction listings for bargain hunters and Buy It Now’s for those who are in a rush and haven’t the time to wait for an auction to end. Use Amazon to mop up those customers who are loyal to one site only and use your own website if you want to offer an extra service such as ‘Gift Wrapping’. Believe me, in the run-up to Christmas, people are impatient so you need to cover all bases.
  4. If you have a smaller selection of items listed, add a few lines to the description of your items hinting that your product is the ‘perfect gift’. This can be implemented for most products with a bit of creativity and will subconsciously play on your potential buyers’ minds making them more likely to purchase.
  5. If you are only listing a small number of different products, consider adding the keywords ‘Christmas Gift’ to your title. This can help you pick up some extra sales. But don’t remove relevant keywords just to fit those extra keywords in. Do it if you have spare space. Don’t if you haven’t.
  6. Remember to keep your stock up to date. If you are selling on eBay top up the number of items available on your Buy It Now listings. If you have the stock but haven’t increased your inventory on your listings and the stock number on your listings runs out, then your listings will end and you will lose your best match position.
  7. Consider adding a ‘Best Offer’ facility to your eBay Buy It Now listings, then automate the Accept/Decline Offer’ option to remain competitive and to pick up those extra sales from people who don’t want to pay the full price but still want to Buy Now.
  8. If you have an eBay shop, use ‘Markdown Manager’ to offer seasonal discounts or limited offers to buyers.
  9. Buyers adore fast dispatch so consider offering extra postage options to buyers just for the Christmas period. You can make a song and dance about this on your listing, which will make you look good and entice more sales!
  10. When possible, make sure you answer questions from potential buyers promptly – this could be the difference between a sale and a ‘no sale’ especially on the run up to Christmas when there is plenty of choice from sellers and it’s easy for buyers to become impatient.
So, if you haven’t listed anything online yet then make this the incentive you need to get started and if you are already up and running then take these points into account to ensure you get the most out of the festive season without the worry of fights, scraps and scrums. Good luck!   *Source: Experian – IMRG