Holiday Ecommerce Tips from the Ghost of Christmas Past

Ebenezer Scrooge learned his holiday lesson from the Ghost of Christmas Past and so can ecommerce sellers – because most of us (hopefully) don’t have a ghostly ex-partner rattling his chains at us to get us motivated.

Here are 5 tips gleaned from holiday seasons past. Keep this advice in mind, and your counting house will be full to bursting come January.

1.)   Dig Into Your Financials – Which week last year did you experience the highest sales volume? Was it the week after Thanksgiving with Cyber Monday? Or maybe your buyers are last minute shoppers who ordered right up until Christmas Eve? Track last year’s sales trends then focus your advertising and marketing around your best weeks again this year. According to marketing services firm Epsilon’s “2010 Holiday Trend Report,” online sales reached their peak last year in Weak 49 (two weeks after Thanksgiving.) Doing a Turkey Day promotion? Think again before you spend your money – online sales dropped off over Thanksgiving week.

2.)   Consider the Weather Factor – During the 2009 season, a major snowstorm on the East Coast aided ecommerce sellers by keeping buyers off the roads, out of stores and on their computers. So keep an eye on that weather report! If bad weather should strike, try advertising a “Blizzard Sale” or other weather-related promotion.

3.)   Coax Customers Back with Email – According to Epsilon, the open rate for online retailers’ marketing campaigns rose from 12% in 2008 to 14.4% in 2009. Your customers are more receptive to email than ever, and a friendly reminder in the inbox is a fantastic way to lure former buyers back to your store for the holidays. If you find that customers are visiting early in the season but failing to purchase or abandoning shopping carts, use drip email marketing methods to keep their attention as they continue deliberating over the holiday shopping process.

4.)   Sell Your Big Ticket Items Early – For the past few years, online buyers have consistently purchased more expensive items earlier in the holiday season. Get your high dollar products in front of your potential customers starting November 1st, and by Cyber Monday at the very latest.

5.)   Cater to Your Procrastinators – Since long before ecommerce was a twinkle in St. Nick’s eye, busy or indecisive souls have been putting their Christmas shopping off until the last minute. The good news for ecommerce sellers is that people order gifts right up until December 24th. The not-so-good news is that last minute shoppers are likely to spend less and order fewer items. (Bah humbug!) Promote your stocking stuffers and other budget-friendly items as the holidays draw to a close, but be sure to cross-promote other items from your store or offer shipping deals when purchasing multiple items in order to offset transactional costs.

Consulting firm Deloitte has predicted that online commerce sales will rise by 15% this holiday season compared to previous years. So listen to lessons from holidays past and don’t invite a ghost into your Christmas Future.