Christmas is fast approaching and in the business world, warm fuzzy feelings and merry Xmas spirit translate into prime opportunity for increasing sales and harnessing rampant consumerism. Yay for the Western world and the spirit of Christmas!
In all seriousness though, with the aftereffects of the 2007 recession still lingering on, Christmas shopping and the holiday sales season have become ever more important dates in the business year. That’s to say, they were always important, but in recent years (and looking to the US in particular, where spending is down), retailers have increasingly relied on the holiday feel-good factor to make sales.
Retailers also seem to have decided that more of a good thing might help their cause. We’re talking of course, about the humble sale. Back in the good old days, sales used to happen once or twice a year – perhaps once a season, max. Some institutions still continue to only hold their sale once a year – Harrod’s immediately springs to mind as an example. The rationale here is that their aura of exclusivity is intrinsic to their value as a brand – and if they started having sales every week, the cost to their brand value would outweigh any extra revenue gained from attracting the masses to their shelves.
Not so with the high street retailers. Dignity is thrown out of the window, in its place giant neon letters permanently – desperately – advertising S-A-L-E-! to passersby. Well, it probably works. I love sale shopping, the irrational satisfaction of having ‘saved’ money by spending on what you probably never needed in the first place. Such is the consumerist society we inhabit, and the nation’s credit card debt ($6.15 billion at May 2014) prove that these habits are hard to break.
So how does this all relate to websites you might ask?
Well, the answer is simple. The holiday season spending habits of the average consumer have been well-established, and do not look likely to alter any time soon. Except in one, crucial way. Consumers in New Zealand are choosing to shop online in greater and greater numbers. We’ve talked about this trend a few times in the past. The 2014 Nielsen Online Retail report has some revealing statistics – there’s a good summary at eCommerce.org with most of the key facts and figures if you want some bedtime reading. Here are a few little nuggets:
- 1.9 million Kiwis now shopping online
- number of online purchases made per person increasing at a rapid rate
- travel, clothing, books, and entertainment tickets most popular categories
- $1.3 billion bought online on overseas websites
Take a good, hard look at that last statistic. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if Kiwi companies weren’t so slow to wake up to the online shopping explosion, we could have kept some of that revenue from being shipped offshore! Add to this BNZ’s March 2014 finding that online spending on Kiwi websites was only up 5% compared to March 2013, whereas online spending on overseas websites was up 15%. It’s long overdue now for New Zealand business to get a little bit smart. And we’re not talking about the big companies either, who have been onto this whole online shopping thing for a while now – The Warehouse, in particular, successfully increasing its online sales by a whopping 30% in 2014. It’s the small businesses (those with 19 or fewer employees) – who incidentally make up 97% of all businesses in New Zealand – who need to evolve. The same small businesses who produce 30% of the country’s GDP. The small businesses of which only half in 2013 even had a website at all.
As a side note, and perhaps surprisingly, it’s not ‘rural’ New Zealand who are necessarily lagging behind. The same 2013 survey found that only 40% of Auckland businesses were using any social media tools, compared to say, 65% in Southland. For a city believing itself switched on, it seems that the lightbulb hasn’t quite dinged! for Auckland business yet.
Maximise your sales this season
Looking ahead to the coming holiday season, what can Kiwi businesses do to help maximise their sales potential? The Google Analytics blog recommends checking out last year’s data to help forecast for the next few months. They found that in 2013, the biggest online transactions were occurring on the Mondays and Tuesday before Christmas (aside from the wildly successful Cyber Monday and Black Friday online shopping frenzies). They also noted that sales season shopping now starts earlier and finishes later than ever before – with heightened sales continuing into January – all good news for retailers. So, careful preparation of your online advertising campaigns will help take advantage of both the biggest retail days statistically, and your historical biggest sales days too.
That’s all well and good for businesses who are ticking all the digital marketing boxes currently. For those who aren’t?
It’s not too late for an early Christmas present
We’re talking, of course, about maximising your revenue potential with a website. If you don’t have a website at all… we need to talk. If you’ve got an old website that isn’t mobile-responsive… we still need to talk.
If you’ve ticked those boxes, well done! You’re keeping up with the game. If you’re a retailer, what about turning your website into a shop to net those online shoppers?
It’s not too late to upgrade your website in time for the silly season, if you act fast. We offer free consultations to discuss your website, your online strategy, and how to maximise your business results online. Contact us to arrange a phone call or appointment.
If you’re still unwilling to make that investment…
Get on social media
Even if you’ve decided that now isn’t the best time to start your online shop or simple business website, at least start the ball rolling with social media! Create your company page up and invite customers to check out special deals only available online. Post about Christmas specials and discounts. Advertise giveaways and competitions. The world is really your oyster on this one. Plus, while a website is pretty tricky to do in-house, creating a Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ page could well be managed by a staff member (although if you want this set up professionally and hassle-free, we also offer this service).
You don’t have to miss out on a slice of the Christmas pud this year. Start now and give yourself the best opportunity to reach those frenzied Christmas and sales shoppers. It’ll be the best present you ever give your business.
Want to check our figures? Sources: