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Christmas is just over a month away and retailers should already have their festive marketing plans in action.
Marketing company Responsys has even warned Australian retailers that they only have until November 19 to roll out their competitive offerings or they face losing out to their US counterparts.
But what if you just haven’t quite got everything in order?
If you're running a bit behind schedule, focus on these four killer points to help your business be up and running for the holiday season.
1. Create focused and engaging email campaigns.
Director of insights and planning at Responsys, Tim Beveridge, said companies should be focusing on creating engaging email campaigns to beat out post-Thanksgiving and Black Friday offers from the US:
Marketers need to plan campaigns will milestones in mind. Reminders such as ‘12 Days left until Christmas’ and ‘last day for free delivery’ can help lift conversion rates.
The number of emails combined with weight of chatter in social and mainstream media about Thanksgiving sales will entice Aussie consumers to spend.
Smart Aussie retailers will start aggressive marketing campaigns in advance of this to avoid losing sales off-shore in this key retail period.
2. Flaunt local advantages.
Yes, retailers will be competing against foreign stores that are likely offering cheaper prices... But can these foreign stores ship products as quickly as local companies? Do they offer a secure, local returns scheme in case of a faulty or wrong sized purchase?
Local stores offer huge advantages over foreign ones and now is the time to remind consumers of this. Many buyers can still be nervous about purchasing from overseas, especially given pending Christmas deadlines, so Beveridge says now is the time to flaunt what advantages you have:
Local retailers can use their natural advantages of being a trusted brand, offering fast or guaranteed delivery, pick-up and returns at local stores and having local call centres and in-sync seasonal ranges to out-manoeuvre the international monsters.
3. Ensure websites are mobile friendly.
Google’s latest trend report showed a 20% spike in shopping related searches, with 40% of these searches coming from mobile devices.
Surprisingly, current stats point to only 1 in 3 Australian retail sites being mobile friendly, which means retailers need to make their sites smartphone and tablet friendly to maximise sales.
Google’s Retail Head, Ross McDonald, says having a mobile friendly site is absolutely vital this Christmas season because even those who are buying in-store often do their research online, and on smartphones.
Not having a mobile website is like operating a shop but closing the door 40% of the time.
On a big screen people do their product research, then they use a mobile to work out where they’re going to go, when the store is open and what offers they have.
McDonald also points out that it isn’t too late for retailers to make their site mobile as searches are due to “ramp up” in December and suggests that if retailers are unsure how to start the process, they should maybe visit Google’s howtogomo site for initial advice.
4. Offer discounts, free shipping and free returns.
Now is the perfect time for retailers to be offering free shipping, free returns and discount codes.
We know from previous reports that retailers shipping prices and return policies are incredibly important to consumers and Amy Ostrowski from Google’s retail team suggests using the holiday season to entice customers with discounts:
Consumers expect special deals on pricing and shipping (free shipping, specifically, is widely expected by online consumers). Especially with Target joining the ranks of other price-matching retailers (which was recently announced by Internet Retailer) it's imperative that any discounts or competitive offerings are highlighted on your site and in your ad copy.
Similarly, jump on the flash sale bandwagon and offer significant discounts on products for a limited time. Doing this creates a sense of urgency and encourages consumer to buy more, and fast - something already being explored by the upcoming Click Frenzy.
All said, there's a lot of quick wins for retailers to make. However, the sense of urgency is fairly apparent, given the shortness of time...