Holiday Shipping: Post-Christmas
Traditionally retailers consider the bookends of holiday shopping to be Black Friday and Christmas Eve. There‘s no doubt Thanksgiving weekend kicks off the shopping season with 72% of people shopping online for Black Friday according to the National Retail Federation. However, Christmas no longer marks the end of the season. Last year, a study showed that 65.9% of holiday shoppers planned “to shop – both brows-ing and buying – retailers’ after-Christmas sales.”
There are a few strategic post-Christmas decisions you can start contemplating now:
- When your holiday initiatives will “end”: While Christmas drives a lot of holiday shopping behavior, you probably have customers who celebrate other year-transition holidays (Kwanzaa runs through January 1 of the new year, for example), and some folks prefer to simply celebrate the new year. Consider all the options when determining how long you’ll offer temporary holiday services, packaging or pricing.
- Making holiday-related changes permanent: Which changes—e.g., shipping service level/cost, operations, marketing, and gifting—will you consider making permanent after the holidays? This is a strategic decision you can evaluate now and make final after holiday purchasing behavior peaks.
- Specific post-holiday initiatives: There are a number of additional, specific, incremental initiatives you should be thinking about now and preparing for as holiday traffic slows down; see the following Preparations section for details.
Preparing for Returns and Gift Card Purchases
Here are the preparations you need to be thinking about between now and the end of the holiday season:
- When holiday initiatives will “end”: Plan to ramp down special holiday material purchases, reconfigure your workspace or give up extra warehouse space if necessary, and reduce temporary holiday staff or shifts.
- Making holiday-related changes permanent: If you are making any changes permanent, there will almost certainly be implications for your materials purchasing, staffing, and operations. Determine what long-term changes will be needed as soon as the decisions are made.
- Returns: If you changed your return policy to make it more liberal, take a careful look at the impact on your conversion rates and costs to see if they are feasible to maintain long-term. It may be worthwhile to be prepared to keep free returns running for a few months after the holiday season to see and measure any positive influence on repeat orders they may have.
- Gift cards: In your post-holiday promotions and campaigns, keep in mind that consumers are armed with gift cards and cash gifts from under the tree, which can provide promotion and campaign fodder.
- Deal-driven consumers: Offline retailers have taught shoppers to expect deals the day after Christmas—so consumers are trained to wait. Be ready with promotions and campaigns.
- Personal wish lists: The gifts that didn’t show up under the tree represent an opportunity for you, especially if customers keep customer wish lists on your site. Consider campaigns and promotions to help them get everything they expected—even if they have to buy it themselves!
- Clearly marked “Sale” section: Post-holiday shoppers can be myopically focused on getting a deal. Make sure some part of your inventory is marked down and prominently promoted to capture the attention of these deal seekers.
- Retargeting: if your technology platform supports it, target shoppers who viewed (but didn’t buy) items before the holidays with any markdowns you make available on those items (or even with special promotions) to entice them back.
- New Season’s merchandise: Be sure to satisfy the consumer segment (especially new customers acquired during the holiday season) interested in new merchandise by featuring it at full price.
Here are the post-Christmas-related actions you’ll need to consider:
- After holiday initiatives actually “end”: For initiatives that you wind down at the end of the season, check out performance metrics to see how you did. Did your shipping service level or gifting change actually increase AOV or conversion? By how much? How many new customers did you acquire through gift recipient campaigns? Keep these performance figures in mind as you plan for next holiday season—or decide if you should make any changes permanent.
- Making holiday-related changes permanent: You can look at holiday-period performance data to help you decide what changes to make permanent, as well as to set up a monitoring plan going forward to ensure that those changes remain a net-positive for your business (and adjust or revert as necessary).
- Post-holiday-specific promotions and campaigns: Keep an eye on the performance of any of the initiatives you roll out to take advantage of post-holiday opportunities related to gift cards, wish lists, new items, etc., in order to apply mid-stream tweaks and determine whether they are worth trying next year.