Economic Gloom & Doom? Not for Online Retailers!

2008 has been a difficult year for retail. The United States economy has had to face a housing market correction, a sub-prime mortgage crisis, rising unemployment, high food and energy costs, a declining dollar value, and now a financial bailout for Wall Street.

The National Retail Federation predicted this week that these financial pressures will result in the worst holiday sales season since 1991.

While overall retail sales will be slumping this year, the online retail market sector is expected to grow by 17% according to a Shop.org study conducted by Forrester Research. With a little digital marketing strategy, this holiday season could still be full of cheer!

Take these steps and you’ll be jolly this holiday season:

PLAN: Understand holiday online retail buying trends and plan your marketing strategy around them. Learn more by reading our Oneupweb white paper (an oldie but a goody). Listed below are the top 5 holiday shopping days:

• Thanksgiving Day
• Black Friday (Friday after Thanksgiving)
• Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving)
• Christmas Eve
• Christmas Day

PROMOTE: To resonate with shoppers, offer incentives for shopping sooner this year. Starting after Halloween, use deals like “Free shipping all this week” that could entice consumers to purchase early, and more importantly, from you.

ONLINE MESSAGING:

• Redesign your homepage with a Christmas/Holiday theme. Here are some examples.
• Use holiday season messaging in your SEM campaigns to help consumers identify your site as a good place to shop for gifts.

SAVE SALES ON OUT-OF-STOCK ITEMS:

• Redirect your customers when a product is out-of-stock. Use language like “If you liked product x, you’ll love product y!” and provide a link to product y.
• If a product is only temporarily out-of-stock, provide a method for the customer to receive an email when the product is in-stock. This will also give you additional opt-in email addresses.

MERCHANDISING: Cross-selling and up-selling

When a customer adds an item to your shopping cart, instead of taking them to the shopping cart page, land them on a cross-sell page. There the customer is reminded of exactly what item they added to the shopping cart, then immediately show additional items from the same category to keep the customer browsing. If the customer then chooses to check-out, you can get more aggressive with a highly targeted pop-up. If the customer adds that item to the cart, send them back to the cross-sell page and repeat.

OPTIMIZE FOR LAST-MINUTE SHOPPERS: As Christmas approaches, start displaying purchase cutoff dates for guaranteed delivery to reassure customers that they will receive their gifts on-time. When holiday shipping deadlines are behind you, promote electronic gift cards by using tag-lines like “It’s Not Too Late” or “There’s Still Time” to attract last minute shoppers.

Don’t let the economic pundits and pessimistic forecasters get you down this holiday season. Crisis creates opportunity, and you can capitalize this year if you plan to succeed.

Happy Holiday digital marketing to all, and to all a good ROI!