For many Christmas is the season to be jolly, lavishing gifts on loved ones but 2020 is likely to continue its trend of being ‘Business As Unusual’ for e-tailers. Whilst online sales have been up in general this year, the monolithic presence of Amazon can pose a challenge for smaller more independent businesses to compete. Christmas 2019 online sales were up more than +10%*, will Christmas 2020 be a similar story? Will sales be higher with more buying online or will sales be lower due to unemployment and financial uncertainty? Whatever the outcome, the important thing to do is to position your online store to stand the best chance of success. This article details a few things we’d encourage you to bear in mind in order to optimise your website to realise those vital final quarter profits.

1. Christmas spirit

Never underestimate the power of the Christmas spirit. Shoppers are attracted and motivated by a seasonally themed buying experience. Your site is best ‘dressed’ for Christmas through use of appropriate imagery, tag lines and promotion.

2. Easy experience

Techniques for making gift purchasing easy for the less practiced or time poor gift buyer are key. These can include featuring your best-selling products as ‘Top ten gifts’ perhaps in age, gender or relative categories including menu options like ‘gifts for her, him etc’ or bundling up single items around a theme to create promotional purchases. These techniques can provide confidence that their selected purchase is a suitable Christmas gift and can even contribute to them buying more than they originally planned, pushing your average order value up.

3. No time like the present

Once back to school is done, it’s totally acceptable to start your Christmas marketing campaign. There are many shoppers who don’t wait until December to start shopping. This year will be a challenge for many so planning ahead and spreading their finances will be key. You may even consider introducing the means of staging payments on their purchases using platforms like Klarna or other similar direct debit services.

4. Spread the cheer

Seasonal advertising had become a key expectation with shoppers eagerly awaiting the feel-good vibes competition between the main players like John Lewis, Tesco, Aldi and Sainsburys. Whilst not all of us enjoy multi-million pound cross channel marketing budgets we are all vying for our slice of the Christmas market and so increasing your advertising budget to ensure that those ready buyers have a reason to buy from you is a good move. More sensible still is to allocate that budget to where you are most likely to connect your target audience.

5. Friends and extended family

Ensuring that your marketing strategy lines up your new customer outreach and existing customer loyalty programmes is key to getting more bang for your buck. Always use your data to personalise and email marketing campaigns with relevant products and offers based on previous buying habits (where possible). Remarketing your Christmas themed offers to both repeat and one-off purchase customers should tempt them back, as will loyalty offers like tiered discounts off higher value purchases, free delivery (where commercially viable) and promotional codes. Building on previous positive experiences should convert to a sale faster than reaching out to an entirely new customer. And if they refer you to a friend, rewarding that activity should be of further benefit to all.