E-commerce Link: Holiday Countdown
In your e-mails, promote your discount offers or incentives. Free shipping always is a strong driver. Depending on your product mix, consider content-based e-mails with holiday tips and time-savers, such as recipes from your cookware site or kids’ activity ideas from your toy site. In doing so, you not only give people gift ideas, but also position your business as a holiday resource.
Dec. 10 through Dec. 25: Help late shoppers count down during the crunch.
Despite concerns about shipping deadlines and product availability, there are plenty of frantic late shoppers who place orders in the final hours leading up to a holiday. ComScore reports that, in 2006, the final three weeks of the holiday season saw a major surge in spending as procrastinators came out in full force, driving a 31 percent increase over the same period in 2005. The week immediately before Christmas saw the biggest surge, with a 45 percent increase over the same week in 2005.
Set customer expectations by overcommunicating the details of these last-minute purchases. Emphasize delivery time lines and showcase products guaranteed to arrive on time for the holiday. Do this on your site, in your e-mail and in your targeted paid search ads for hard-to-find items you have in stock.
Customers see shipping costs as a necessary evil and often gamble that a less expensive shipping method just might get Barbie and her Beachside Condo to little Suzy on time. Consider offering premium shipping discounts or free shipping upgrades to top customers. They will jump at this, and you will become the hero for solving their big problem.
In 2006, retailer American Eagle Outfitters combined two of these approaches with its “Make Sure They Get It” campaign. It offered free shipping on orders of $100 or more with the caveat that orders were placed by a certain date. It wisely posted different order cutoff dates for different geographical regions. With one move it discouraged last-minute shopping, became the affordable delivery hero and set appropriate customer expectations.