Every year like clockwork we start telling our merchants to prepare for the holiday season around the end of July. And every year like clockwork retailers don’t sleep for an entire 6 weeks because they didn’t start their holiday planning on time!
Break the cycle with our eCommerce holiday sale kit! During the holiday season there is enough customer service, order fulfillment and shipping to keep you busy without the stress of leaving your promotions to the last minute. Our gift to you: a holiday (or anytime) sale kit complete with a downloadable calendar with all the important dates you need, a sale checklist, a manageable work back calendar, AND a pre-sized downloadable banner kit. It is my hope that you will take this list and spend a couple hours preparing now and then slowly roll out your assets and enjoy a little holiday cheer yourself. Make the most of the holiday season by downloading the “eCommerce Holiday Sale Kit” by clicking below:
The Sale Checklist
- Decide which sales you are going to participate in.
- Brainstorm with your team on how you will make your sales exciting and new.
- Download the pre-sized PSDs provided in this kit and get all your information in there with fonts and design assets saved to a safe place where they can quickly be uploaded to your site, newsletter, Google, etc.
- Determine your shipping deadlines for the regions your eCommerce site ships to (remember: both date and time!).
- Determine your returns policy.
- Update your shipping and returns info on your site with the new Holiday policy.
- Update your receipts.
- Set a calendar reminder to change your shipping and returns policy back at the end of January
- Use our workbook calendar as a guide and create reminders in your own calendar based on which events you will be participating in.
The Questions: Here are some of the top questions you should ask yourself as you work through this list
Q: Which sale days am I going to participate in?
The main events are Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and Boxing Week.
I recommend not dropping your prices more than on these occasions. If you want to do a little less you could choose between Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but your customers are going to expect you to offer a promotion on Boxing Day (if you’re Canadian) and you will likely want to clear out that end-of-season merchandise after Christmas.
Throughout the rest of the month you can do mini-promotions, but give yourself a good 3 weeks of regular price selling. The element of surprise works really well with holiday sales, gifts with purchase and time sensitive deals or flash sales bring that same sense of excitement and urgency to your customer. Too many discount days takes away the excitement for the big ones and your customers will begin to ignore your messaging if you keep sending them the same sale or become too predictable.
Q: What is your shipping cut-off and holiday return policy?
Figure out your shipping cut-offs ahead of time. Decide the last day and time orders need to be placed to guarantee gifts will be delivered in time for the 24th of December. Make sure to consider all the different regions you ship to. You can set different cut offs for each province, for example, but try not to get too complex or it will be difficult to convey the messaging.
Quick example checklist for a Toronto retailer:
- Within GTA
- Ontario & Quebec
- Outside of Ontario & Quebec
Decide how long your return policy will be extended after the holidays, choose a date and decide how you will deal with full-priced and sale merchandise; whether you will offer full refunds or exchanges and decide internally, how you will handle returns after the deadline. Make sure to update this return information on your receipts, your shipping and returns page, FAQ’s and anywhere else you communicate this messaging on your site. Also, set a reminder for yourself for the end of January to change this messaging back to your usual return policy.
When choosing the date, consider that your staff will be busy, you may want to allow extra breathing room so you are not hit with a spike in Boxing Say sales AND all of your returns in one week.
When you see it all in one list like this, you will realize why it gets so stressful when it is all left last minute. Especially around the holidays when small teams are already stretched thin, trying to keep up with the 50% higher demand with orders, customer service, packing and shipping.
Q: Are you going to offer the same promotions in store and online?
Make sure to decide this before the sales start. Discuss your unified customer service plan should customers request the opposite of what you have decided. Consider where you can promote your sales in-store.
Related: SEM Budget Planning for the Holidays
The pre-sized downloadable banner kit
1. On-Site Home, Category, Blog and Newsletter
These PSDs will need to be sized according to the width of your website or newsletter and used based on the space you have on your site. Everyone can use the homepage banner, but the category banner will only be used if you have space for this on your category listing pages, and blog will obviously only be used if you have a blog and create a post about your sale.
2. Facebook Cover, Twitter Cover, Facebook Timeline/Twitter Feed and Instagram
You can update your cover image for Facebook and Twitter to match the look of your sale material. The same image can be used for Facebook and Twitter for a timeline post and an image for the your tweet.
For Instagram, I would use a lifestyle images that suit your brand and include the sale info below the image. You don’t want to interrupt your customers feed with what feel like very obvious marketing material. By doing this, you can keep your followers happy and also get your message across in a more authentic way.
*If you would like to have some buzz about you sale on Pinterest, you can pin items that are on sale, rather than your sale banner. Include the reg price, sale price and link to the item. Pre-sale, you can do sneak-peaks or put a couple items on sale ahead of time.
3. Google Display Ads
If you choose to do Google display ads, these are the 4 most popular ad sizes that are more commonly found on websites.
Besides your promotional material don’t forget to allow yourself enough time to create your cart rules, adjust your prices or if you are creating a promo code, to include it in your marketing material and have it clearly displayed on your website during the sale.
- Other considerations & ideas:
- Top bar promo message (text only)
- Google Text Ads
- Landing page for pre sale-lead up and email collection
Work Back & Important Dates Calendar
Here is a legend for the Calendar which should help you understand what it all means, why we did it the way we did and where you need to make adjustments to fit your business.
- “Movember” – all month
- Site Code Freeze: Dates Vary
- American Thanksgiving: Thursday November 26, 2015
- Black Friday: Friday November 27, 2015
- Cyber Monday: Monday November 30, 2015
- Green Monday: Monday December 14, 2015
- Free Shipping Day: Monday December 12, 2015
- Super Saturday: Saturday December 19, 2015
- Christmas Eve: Thursday December 24, 2015
- Christmas Day: Friday December 25, 2015
- Boxing Day: Saturday December 26, 2015
- New Years Eve: Thursday December 21, 2015
Newsletters remind people about your promotion, you can adjust these to fit your regular company schedule. For example, if you send Tuesday newsletters, include it in your regular newsletter, conversely if you send daily ones decide how much notice you are going to give people in advance of the big sale.
Here we’re operating under the assumption that your sales will start at midnight the day-of.
GA = Google Ads
Google takes 2-3 days to approve your ads, considering that traffic is high at this time of year, we have allotted 3 days on the calendar to provide you with some buffer time!
6 days before sale Day: Submit your Google ads
3 days before Sale Day: Google Ads go live
1 day before the Sale: Newsletter advertising a big sale coming + 1 sneak peak banner on the site
Sale Day: Banner advertising “Sale on Now” + applicable price adjustments
Dec 24th – This is a good time to wish your site visitors a safe and Merry Christmas and give them the first notification that your merchandise or services will be going on sale on Boxing Day. Personally, I prefer doing this on Christmas Eve so you can let your customers be with their families on X-mas day. You can be discreet to build curiosity, or you can reveal a coveted item that will be on sale to build anticipation, or you can let them in on all the details if you want them to burst through your virtual doors on Dec 26th. Don’t forget to indicate what time your sale will go live online, whether it be midnight or 9am, noon or after-hours.
Going, Going, Gone!
Before you know it the holiday season will be gone, just like the products you’ve placed for sale on your eCommerce site. We’ve warned you that the time is now to prepare your stores, and even as we edge closer to the “big-days” remember that it’s never too late to get started on your preparations. We only hope that our resources have helped you run your business better to make the most of this amazing opportunity! Download our Holiday Sale Kit, use the Checklist of action items to start executing, look at our work back and important dates calendar to get your timing perfected, and implement our pre-sized PSD banners to promote your sales.