The Real Opportunity During Holiday Buying Season (Hint: It’s Not Revenue)

If you’re an owner or worker inside of an ecommerce business, once October arrives the number one thing on your mind is preparing for Q4 – the holiday buying season. It’s that short time of year where buyer inhibitions are reduced to zero and consumers are spending like there’s no tomorrow. October is when most are preparing their business to be able to handle the increased sales, fulfillment, and customer service of the holiday season. During this period, customer friction (the difficulty of actually getting a customer to buy) is greatly reduced making it the best opportunity of the year to get your product in the most hands possible.

In order to do this, most ecommerce stores are focused on preparing to sell like crazy, getting fulfillment and customer service ready, and planning their inventory. All of this should definitely be done with intention, since many brands can do 10 to 15 times their daily revenue the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and then double their daily sales through the end of the year.

Customer Base Growth

Those trends are exciting and full of opportunity. But if you think that 10X’ing your revenue is the main opportunity, you’re wrong and thinking too short-term. The real opportunity is the exponential growth of your customer base and your brand reach. Do this right, and your traffic and daily revenue will rest at a new high after the buying season, every key metric will move in a positive direction and you will come out of the promotional season with a much larger customer base and a raised traffic and revenue floor.

Why is customer growth more important than revenue? If you have a successful business and the economics of your products and marketing are working (at least not failing), then customer acquisition should be your main goal. This is because a customer who we are converting into a raving fan is way more valuable than a single sale. If this isn’t the case for your business then you are missing the entire point of building a business.

It’s not about the first sale, it’s about the lifetime value of a customer and the value of that long relationship. That value is not only measured in purchases, but if you’re creating a true fan that single customer will bring in many more of their kind. The purchase is only the beginning.

The most successful brands in the world do this really well. Many brands will break even or even lose money on the initial sale because they know they have a system, a machine designed to create long term lifetime value and convert customers into raving fans.

Make It Happen

So, what are the steps an ecommerce brand that has momentum can take to get the most out of the holiday buying season? Unfortunately, if you’re like most organizations, you’re just trying to get through the holiday buying season successfully. But if you’re truly looking to grow your customer base as a result of this prime time for consumers, there are several areas of opportunity that will help reinforce and prepare your company for an incredible amount of volume.

1. Store Platform

In order to thrive during the holidays and not be riddled with worry, you need a stable technical platform. A hosted enterprise ecommerce platform is where you should be. For instance, a store built on Shopify Plus or BigCommerce Enterprise eliminates a wide range of worries, from your store crashing to accessing quick technical support. By the way, if you’re considering a store platform change before the holidays, you need to start asap. We’ve discussed the pros and cons of different store platforms at length before. Here are some resources if you’re looking to learn more:

2. Inventory

Make sure you have enough product on hand! This should be a no-brainer, but it’s easier said than done. It can be extremely difficult to plan for accurately, especially if you’re a newer company. Get your supply chain in order and predict what you need, striking that delicate balance between having enough but not too much.

3. Marketing Team, Meet Promo Calendar

Make sure your promo calendar is clearly dialed in and that your marketing team is on top of it. Don’t use a promotions calendar to coordinate your marketing? Start using one right away! There is so much that goes into each promo that is run during this time, so planning in advance is key.

At a high level, be sure you’ve planned clear offers for each promotion and couple it with strong messaging and intriguing creative. Create an irresistible offer. After that, dive into the nitty gritty which can include but is not limited to:

4. Cultivate Brand Fans

When the glittery mayhem of Q4 has settled, the number one thing your business must have at the end of the season are happy customers. But if you’re smart, you’ll turn those customers into raving fans. How can you go the extra mile to convert these customers into fans that spread the word about your products? We discuss that in depth here, but here are three keys to keep in mind:

  • Employ amazing customer service. Issues will inevitably arise during this crazy season, and your customer service team has the chance to turn problems into opportunities. Train your team to answer questions, address issues, and wow your customers with their willingness to make it right. When customers are treated well, they are far more likely to tell everyone they know about it!
  • Follow through with your fulfillment. Get your packages out in a timely manner. If issues arise with shipping or inventory, be transparent, address the problems quickly, and keep customers in the loop. When their orders do hit their doorstep, you should have done everything possible to make unboxing an exciting and surprising experience. Little details such as unique packaging, helpful tips, or a personal note go a long way.
  • Deliver your promises. This should go without saying, but remain true to your word as a company. If you offer a crazy warranty, back it up! If the order doesn’t arrive on time, offer compensation. Messing this up can be devastating to your customers’ trust, but winning in this area will be huge!

Put Everything Into Action

Hopefully these concepts are not entirely new to you, but the key to a long-term win during the holiday buying season is a shift in focus. A shift from focusing on revenue to customer acquisition. It’s not all about profit as much as driving volume with the intention of building a larger customer base that you can turn into fans.

It’s also worth noting that the holidays are not the only time to take advantage of this. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday will likely bring the highest volume, you can use these tactics during any holiday or promotional period. When you run these promos, you’re condensing several months of traffic and sales into a much shorter period of time. So take full advantage of this! Make it your goal to implement an effective promotional calendar while turning your customers into fans, and you’ll be on your way to elevated results in the months ahead!

Looking for more Black Friday & Cyber Monday best practices? Check out our 10 Rules that Apply Every Year.


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