September has almost passed: the leaves are changing colour, and the nights are getting longer. The change in season also signifies a shift in the retail landscape as many of us prepare for the busiest time of year. Q4 can be an overwhelming time for any retailer, no matter the size. Last year, brick and mortar sales saw a huge decline while e-commerce came out on top. Not without its challenges, however, as many retailers were faced with stock shortages and shipping delays. Despite the circumstances, Q4 2020 was a crucial time for online retailers as consumer confidence rose, and this year is no different. With early-buying expected to start as early as October, now is the perfect time to plan your strategy and be on the track to Q4 success.
Check out our 4 top tips to best prepare your online store for Q4 success:
Your marketing calendar is essentially your best friend during Q4. Taking time to map out key dates in your calendar allows you to plan ahead for campaigns in terms of messaging, creative assets and promotional activities. Key dates for Q4 2021 include:
- Canadian Thanksgiving – 11th October
- Halloween – 31st October
- Singles Day – 11th November
- USA Thanksgiving – 25th November
- Black Friday – 26th November
- Cyber Monday – 29th November
- Christmas Day – 25th December
- Boxing Day – 26th December
- New Year’s Eve – 31st December
Don’t forget to update customers on your key dates: remind customers when your offers are about to end by placing urgency (e.g. Hurry! This weekend only!) and advise customers of your last date for guaranteed shipping to ensure products will be delivered in time for Christmas.
Lack of stock during peak times is any online retailer’s worst nightmare! Make sure your products (particularly your best-sellers) maintain healthy stock levels and are highly promoted for visibility. Inventory planning and management is key to online success, particularly when faced with unforeseen events such as logistic and supply chain issues as many experienced last year (and are continuing to face).
Upselling & Cross Selling
While you have your customer hooked in, present them with related products where possible. Customers would be more than happy to find what they are looking for all under one roof, particularly those that are prone to last minute shopping! This can be done by putting relevant products in front of the customer while they are on the product page and during the checkout stage. In addition, think about post-purchase email campaigns. What could you send to your customers to bring them back? Are there complementary products they may have missed? Are there similar products that they might be interested in? Maximise every sale opportunity!
Without traffic to your site, your online store will have no visibility, and subsequently no sales. Consider each of your channels and how well they are performing. A great way to analyse the success of each channel is by using Google Analytics data to determine which sources are bringing the most traffic.
Diversifying your traffic sources enables you to reach more customers and strengthen visibility of your site which is crucial during peak sale times. For example, some customers are best reached on social media, while others may avoid social media channels entirely. Ensure you are catering to a wide net of potential customers by making your store easily accessible to them.
Then comes paid vs “free” channels. Paid advertising offers higher chances of getting your online store out there, and to a wider (and more relevant) audience. However, don’t neglect your “free” channels, such as organic traffic, email marketing and social media. Having a variety of marketing channels will enable you to not only maximise traffic, but minimise risk. Just as an investor needs a wide and diverse portfolio, so too does your eCommerce strategy! Consider each of the following traffic sources for your business:
- Online store (website)
- Organic social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, TikTok)
- Paid social media advertising (Facebook & Instagram)
- Paid PPC (Google & Bing paid search campaigns)
- Display advertising (Google)
- SEO (organic traffic)
- Email marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- PR & Influencer marketing
We hope that the tips outlined above help you prepare for Q4 success. At Built for Growth, we have a wealth of eCommerce knowledge and over 20 years experience in helping businesses grow their online potential. Get in touch and find out how our eCommerce experts can help you!