Small BusinessCommerceE-commerce

The biggest online selling days

There are a growing number of peak selling days throughout the year, offering extraordinary potential for adventurous and canny online merchants.

Big shopping events like Click Frenzy and Cyber Monday are now key dates on the online shopping calendar, when millions of consumers snap up bargains as retailers watch their sales figures soar. There’s no limit to who you can sell to or where – it’s simply a matter of knowing how to reach and convert new customers. And the real boon of online selling is that small retailers can make the biggest splash, says retailing expert Fi Bendall of Bendalls Group.

“Smaller businesses actually have the advantage because they can make decisions far more quickly,” she says. “They’re nimbler, able to make decisions for themselves, act and respond faster, and they’re typically far better at communicating directly with customers than biggest stores.”

So where’s the action online?

Click Frenzy

Billed as “The Sale that Stops a Nation”, Click Frenzy is held for 24 hours on the second Tuesday of November – one week after the Melbourne Cup (“The Race that Stops the Nation”). It brings together online retail brands and their exclusive offers on a centralised shopping platform.

Since launching in 2012, it’s been growing bigger every year, and fashion and homewares are the most popular categories.

Millions of bargain-hungry consumers jump online to choose from thousands of options so make yours worthwhile. One essential is being bold about your discount. Make it compelling – no less than 30%.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

The marketing reach has spread for these post-Thanksgiving sale days which originated in the US. They’re now mega shopping events presenting opportunities for smart retailers worldwide.

The original Black Friday was when bricks-and-mortar stores opened their doors with bargains aplenty and it still holds its own as a key date for retailers. But recently, Black Friday has been eclipsed by the far-reaching online sales potential of Cyber Monday.

Joining in requires some forethought, but not too much. “Retailers can piggyback on the marketing concept, creating their own Black Friday or Cyber Monday offers to consumers,” suggests Bendall. Alternatively, they can actively join the US occasion and determinedly move into new markets.

“Finding new customers offshore is a matter of using your networks, or even paying to leverage Like networks. Facebook sponsorship is just one way to access the market,” Bendall adds.

Vital to capturing the imagination and sales of new customers is the imperative to stand out. “Be sure to make your offer unique or different,” she emphasises.

Christmas Day

Everyone’s working to be in on the action in the lead-up to 25 December, which means marketing needs to be finely planned to make sure you cash in on this annual shopfest.

"While many online retailers use social media to keep customers tuned into daily special offers or flash sales of slow-selling products, email marketing remains an essential in the toolkit for reaching customers with outstanding offers", says Bendall. Where possible, personalise it. “And importantly, remember we live in an instant world. Building anticipation is one thing, but don’t promote too far ahead,” she advises.

Online shoppers operate around the clock but trends from Christmases past show people are particularly likely to get clicking and spending on Mondays prior to the big day. A sales spike may also be expected by retailers who participate in Free Shipping Day and promote it well. Free Shipping day is also typically the last day many retailers will guarantee pre-Christmas deliveries but same-day delivery merchants and those who sell perishables find the last-minute rush extends right up to Christmas Eve.

To keep the sales momentum going, consider a Christmas Day special, or a sneak peak of your Boxing Day sale. Online retailers worldwide report that 25 December itself is an increasingly busy shopping day for belated gift shoppers and eager post-Christmas bargain hunters. British retail industry association IMRG attributes this growing trend directly to the boost in smartphone and tablet use.

Boxing Day

The traditional sales blitz of Boxing Day makes competition among retailers extreme. One clever touch is giving the customers on your email database a head-start on the sale or, better still, memorable and shareable “further discount” promo codes. Such opportunities are reasons for them to stay loyal and also help spread the word so you can sell more.

Teasers for Boxing Day should go out no more than 36 hours ahead so you keep that message fresh in the minds of prospective customers. On the day (or the night before), use all your marketing channels to promote the sale and, vitally, make those discounts significant.

Chinese New Year

Australia’s proximity to Asia, along with Chinese shoppers’ perception of the high quality of Australian goods are among the many smart reasons for retailers to consider this big selling moment.

The Chinese have embraced eCommerce with a huge emphasis on mCommerce. Having mobile-optimised sites is key for retailers considering joining the CNY festivities.

Australian online merchants should start using Chinese networks, urges Bendall. “We live in a global economy. It’s about being brave and exploring every option for where you can sell and market your product,” she says.

Crossing borders is now easier with major eCommerce platforms like eBay and Alibaba offering online merchants the chance to sell directly to Chinese shoppers.

One more thing…

Big online selling events bring with them a few provisos for retailers. What’s paramount is ensuring that the goods are in hand to meet a sudden upswing in demand, and that they can be delivered fast. Having a carefully worded returns policy is also important.

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