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Customer Experience

How-to: Prepare your business for E-commerce sales holidays

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Customers love online bargains – no surprises there. But in recent years, digital sales events such as local efforts Click Frenzy in May and the U.S’s Black Friday have had a real impact on Australian retail turnover.

For instance – according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ seasonally-adjusted figures – November sales are now outpacing December figures, reflecting the impact of newer sales holidays based around American Thanksgiving rather than longstanding local traditions like Boxing Day sales.

E-commerce sales holidays in Australia    

As May’s Click Frenzy claims the mantle as Australia’s biggest online shopping day, Cyber Monday is the undisputed champion of online sales – debuting in the US in 2005 as the online answer to popular bricks-and-mortar Black Friday events (which are timed to run the day after Thanksgiving). Popularised by mega retailers like Amazon and eBay, it’s become a sales focus for companies big and small, and Australian shoppers are now getting in on the act, too. Given this influence from the States, there’s an increasing expectation that Cyber Monday means deals everywhere. For local businesses targeting local consumers, and especially for local businesses competing for international sales. 

Cyber Monday is creating a pull-forward effect on our traditional sales periods. However, they’re not the only game in town. Prominent Australian initiatives include Click Frenzy – offering gamified shopping experiences to subscribers, who can nab bargains from big brands such as Dyson, Apple and Flight Centre – and the annual Vogue Online Shopping Night.

From a SME’s perspective, these are pay-to-play and, depending on your product or service, may be a worthwhile investment.

Here are some ideas for how to get involved in sales events throughout the year, whether you’re gearing up for Click Frenzy, Black Friday, or the next big thing.

Know your offering

Sales events aren’t just about radical discounting – think of different ways you can offer value to customers during the sales-event period. This could mean anything from discounted or free shipping to loyalty gifts, digital rewards cards or other incentives to spend just a little more. Get creative! Some companies target existing email lists with ‘secret deals’ for loyal customers, and subtle prompts to share withfriends for further lead generation. The objective should be to attract new, high-quality regulars as well as servicing existing loyalists.

 In terms of customer communication and fulfilment, it may make sense to narrow down your offerings: five or so different deals prominently displayed on a landing page are probably going to be more effective than multiples all over your site that customers need to search for and digest.

Also ensure offers are consistent with your brand values (for instance, heavy discounts may undermine a premium brand), and take the time to check out what your competitors are doing, too. If possible, try and match or better their offers – and be sure to let consumers know how generous you’re being.

Promote, promote, promote    

Start promoting two weeks out from the event – at the very latest. Now is the time to experiment, so consider POS signs and leaflets, website banners and PPC or email campaigns.

Social media platforms are of course cheap and effective avenues for getting the word out to consumers, so take thisopportunity to trial different formats like Instagram Stories, or even paid communications through Facebook Ads. Test different messaging ahead of time to see what sticks, and hone your strategy in real time before the big day (or big week).

Even brick-and-mortar enterprises can leverage e-commerce events to offer value to consumers. Why not take the opportunity to dive into social media or set up basic web functions to let shoppers know what you’ve got going on? They’ll already be primed for retail offers and info around a sales holiday – you might as well join the conversation.

And don’t forget to stay in touch after the event, too. Click Frenzy features in the month before the EOFY lead-up – a time for further sales. And Cyber Monday leads into the pre-Christmas retail period, which is a great time to be top-of-mind with new and existing customers. 

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And don’t forget the basics

Before committing to any grand e-commerce strategies, it’s a good idea to ensure you’ve got the basics covered. 

Test your website ahead of time so you can be confident going into the sales-holiday period. That might mean contacting your hosting company to make sure they can handle a spike in online traffic. Or even something as simple as finding a trusted friend to look over your site. Are all your products and services displayed correctly? Is information up-to-date and accurate? 

Paying attention to your website also means making sure that written content includes keywords likely to drive even more custom to your site – for tips on how to get started, online toolkits like this one from Google are useful primers. And for broader info on search engine optimisation, see our SEO 101 for tips on growing your online presence.

Out in the real world, make sure you’ve got the staffing and/or automation capacity to deal with additional orders. And, obviously, that inventory is in place to fulfil all those extra sales. 

Shopper making online purchase with mobile phone and credit card.
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