Holiday sales represented nearly 20% of total retail industry sales across the board. That means that a less than 2-month period of time is responsible for a 5th of sales! Those numbers suggest a very lucrative part of the year for retailers and a lot of them are starting to gear up now! In fact, The term “Black November”, coined by a bunch of retailers suggests that businesses have to be ready by November first for the start of the holiday storm! It’s always smart to be one step ahead of the storm, so here are a few tips to do exactly that…

1. Ramp up the social media and email marketing

Having a solid social media presence is crucial in our day and age. Fortunately, platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook along with well-planned email blasts are some of the most cost-effective ways to market your products. By utilizing these avenues to your advantage, you have the opportunity to get the word out and fine-tune your company’s brand.   Trends suggest that the more aesthetically pleasing the better. Let your product shine and show your product being used; consumers are constantly looking for inspiration and if you can help them visualize themselves using your product, they’re all the more likely to click “add to cart”. Even if you’re not social media savvy, there is a new wave of freelance social media specialists looking for work. Just reach out!

2. Plan out promotions

Based on promotional data, the highest-converting words to use in subject lines include:
  1. Black Friday
  2. Sale
  3. Free
  4. Off
  5. % (the percentage sign)
Get customers engaged with your brand before Black Friday rolls around. They should know that you offer great deals and quality products even in the off-season. Understanding this will make them more aware come time for the “real” sales. You can also use promotions as an opportunity to build brand loyalty.

 3. Get your website squared away (desktop and mobile version)

In 2017, online shopping rates increased by almost 17% on Black Friday alone, making for a record of $5.05 billion, according to Adobe Digital Index. And in 2018, holiday shopping e-commerce is projected to increase by 15.3 percent compared to the previous year! Online shopping is becoming a market of its own that is crucial for any retailer. Online purchases in all age demographics are skyrocketing.   In a Statista graph that compared “Online and offline holiday shopping channel usage combinations of consumers in the United States as of October 2017”, the category “research online and buy product online” wins by a popularity landslide, boasting 40% of shoppers! In a distant second, 23% of shoppers researched online and then visited the store to purchase.   Likewise, study after study has proven that the highest quality websites produce the highest business performance. It’s virtually cost-free for consumers to search for alternatives, which means you have to provide a world-class online experience to achieve customer loyalty. Everything from aesthetics to financial services makes a difference. Make website navigation a breeze for desktops, tablets, and phones.

 4. Be smart about Black Friday

Black Friday has become increasingly nuanced. Last year, some retailers were praised for refusing to offer deals on Thanksgiving Day and others were praised for starting sales earlier than ever. The bottom line: never start a campaign on Thanksgiving Day. Even though Black Friday has been known to inch its way into Thanksgiving, the majority of Americans still take the day to spend with their family.   Also worth mentioning: For the rest of the world, Turkey Day doesn’t exist. Start sending Black Friday or Cyber Monday specific emails out the Monday before Thanksgiving. Your customers should already be aware that you are promotion-friendly at this point, so reminders are just icing on the cake.

5. Don’t stop!

Your Black Friday deals are great leverage for the rest of the season! And guess what? People still buy a ton of stuff after Thanksgiving. According to Customer Growth Partners, only 15% of holiday spending occurs between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. The last two Saturdays before Christmas combined account for about 11% of holiday shopping! In other words, don’t go all in quite yet. Keep some good cards in your hand for after the feast.

6. Take extra pride in the overall customer experience

During the holidays, a lot of retailers struggle to juggle both the influx in customers and the increase in support ticket requests. Did you know…
  1. Speed of the first reply is directly linked to customer satisfaction
  2. There is a clear trend of ticket volume increases across all channels in November and December
  3. Ticket volume year over year has climbed dramatically in each channel – and astoundingly so for newer channels like Facebook and Twitter
  4. When ticket volume surges, disjointed support systems fail, sacrificing first-reply times and CSAT scores
When it’s hardest to keep up on servicing new customers, it’s also the most important. Some retailers can justify extra IT help come the holiday season, and others commit to working over time. What ever you chose, make sure you engage your customers with a world-class virtual experience and make sure that your partners (if you have them) are doing the same.

7. Have a mission

The relationship you have with your customers becomes significantly deeper when you form a missional foundation.  Having a mission means that your customers aren’t just buying from you so they can put something under the tree come Christmastime, they’re buying from you because they believe in your cause.  

Our Mission

At Furniture Pipeline, the “mission” is at the heart of our company. We plant 7 trees for every product sold. We want to reforest nations devastated by the effects of deforestation and provide eco-friendly, sustainable, good quality products at the same time. To join our mission and fulfill the seventh strategy for preparing for the holiday storm, click here to fill out a wholesale application. And to stay up to date with all things Furniture Pipeline, follow us on social media @plantedseven !