Holiday sales cycles often run on a boom-then-bust trajectory: High sales leading up to the end of the year, and then…not much happens. People are tired, budgets are spent, needs are filled. For e-commerce companies, that often means hitting a low on sales for a while. If your online business doesn’t have a plan to deal with those post-holiday blues, it’s time to think about one!

This year, e-commerce sales are expected to be particularly high: A SYKES report indicates that 44% of consumers don’t feel comfortable shopping in person for the time being, with another 25% saying they won’t be shopping until a COVID-19 vaccine is available in their region. That’s a whole lot of people who are turning to online shopping as a result…and there are ways to keep them around, even post-holidays. Here’s how to prepare so your company avoids that sales slump.

1. Have a Plan to Manage Returns

Did you know that a quarter of all annual retail returns happen immediately after Christmas? That’s a lot of work (especially in 2020, when carriers are already pushed to limit), but offering great return options is an excellent way to improve customer retention as well. We suggest working with a fulfillment center like Sherpack to make sure returns are handled immediately with an approach that benefits the buyer. A few key practices to consider include:

  • Automated refunds when appropriate, so customers don’t have to jump through many hoops to get money back
  • The ability to easily exchange a product for another – for post-holiday returns, many people are just looking for the product in a different color or size, and it’s important to make that easy for them so they are happy and the sale is still completed
  • When possible, free shipping for exchanges to make the process friendlier for the customer
  • An extended return period to acknowledge the general craziness of the holidays (another thing we’ve seen more companies implement in 2020)

2. Use New Customer Accounts to Your Advantage

With lots of e-commerce activity come new customer accounts. These are valuable for an online store because of the data they provide about customers, and the potential of future sales. Create a campaign specifically to reach out to new customer accounts through email and offer additional products or discounts designed for after the holidays. These new customers are more likely to pay attention to offers from new stores they just signed up for rather than older brands they’ve been seeing in their email for years.

3. Pinpoint Your Personalization Offers

Personalization is an excellent way to cross-sell, and there’s no better time to work on this than immediately after the holidays. The key is creating precise plans for what additional products to offer your customers (who, remember, may not have much left in their budgets). Focus on accessories that are specifically designed to go with products that buyers have already purchased – products that they may have forgotten to get, or will realize are a perfect fit after using their new product for a couple of weeks.

4. Offering Special Shipping Deals

We know – your store probably just offered special shipping deals for the holidays. But it’s also a good idea to offer additional deals for the weeks after. Work with your fulfillment center and carrier to find ways that you can offer more free shipping on select products, faster two-day shipping, and better bundled shipping deals to make online ordering more attractive!

5. Create a New Year Campaign

The New Year isn’t just about losing weight and returning gifts. It’s also a time of year where people are re-evaluating their life plans, making decisions about where they work or live, and hoping for broad changes. It’s also a time of year when sports become more important (with the Super Bowl coming up) and, eventually, when people are starting to think about Valentine’s Day. Take advantage of all this to craft a New Year campaign with discounts for goods that people may be most interested in.

6. Dig Into Your Online Traffic Data for New Options

With the holidays over, there’s no better time to check your online traffic and see where sales came from. What ads seemed to drive the most traffic? What channels brought in the most organic traffic? What did buyers really resonate with? Use this data and start immediately focusing on the areas that brought the most success from the holidays. That includes ad campaigns, social media presence, keywords, and more.

7. Hold Clearance Sales for Old Inventory

Certain clothing brands are famous for offering big end-of-the-year sales right after the holidays, and your online store can follow their example. This is a great way to clear out inventory early on, and allows you to target sales where it’s most advantageous for your own logistics. If products are about to be replaced with new versions, or you have holiday stock that may not be viable next year, don’t hesitate to hold a clearance sale to move products. If you make this an annual affair, your customers will begin to look forward to it and shop specifically to find those deals!

8. Remember the Value in Simplicity

It’s the end of the holidays at the end of a very long year. Remember that your buyers are also tired people who are just looking to make things simple. Simplify your buying and payment processes as much as possible. If you haven’t offered one-click purchase options yet, this is a good time to implement them: Put similar buy buttons in your email and your social media pages. Make it easy to bundle and ship products. The fewer headaches customers encounter, the more likely they are to make purchases after the holidays.

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