The ‘Golden Quarter’ is nearly upon us: a three-month spike in online sales that for some businesses can account for a majority of their total annual turnover.
Used to your advantage these events can become a big earner for your online shop, not only generating immediate increases in orders but also attracting new, long-term customers.
This purple patch includes a cluster of dates which entice shoppers to buy online, and this year is predicted by some to be the most lucrative on record.
It starts with Singles Day (November 11) which is an enormous event in China that can see more than $1bn spent within the first few minutes. This is followed by the globally-recognised Black Friday (November 27) and its online-only equivalent Cyber Monday (November 30).
This year the Golden Quarter will also include Prime Day – a two-day sales event specific to the Amazon website which usually takes place in July but this year has been postponed. No new date has been officially announced yet, but it is likely to be some time in October.
Beyond these specific dates it is also, of course, the run-up to Christmas, the biggest gift-buying event of the year, and bolstering the online sales in 2020 will be the fact that the coronavirus lockdown continues. While most shops are now fully open, many customers still feel more comfortable shopping from home.
So now that it’s clear to see that so many shoppers are ready to spend, how do you ensure that your business reaps the benefit?
If you haven’t already begun putting your Golden Quarter plan in place, it’s time to start.
Some campaigns, such as search engine optimisation and anything that involves the print media for example, can take time to establish.
Others, which can be executed relatively quickly, such as pay per click advertising, promotional emails and social media activity, are still most effective when they’re backed by a coherent strategy.
So even if it’s not yet time to begin your campaign, it’s worth planning your sales tactics, managing your inventory and even preparing your people power.
The best way to attract custom is to hold special sales events which explicitly state that they are linked to Black Friday, Cyber Monday or whichever event you’re looking to exploit. Bargain hunters seek out these types of deals and using these keywords will put you on their radar.
You have readily available resources which won’t cost much to use. Emailing your existing customer base, submitting your details to deals websites and joining the appropriate conversations and hashtags on social media are all ways to promote your deals for little cash outlay.
If you have the resources and are confident that the Golden Quarter will work for you, you can also invest in advertising: both online and offline media can be effective.
Make sure that shoppers are required to use special codes to unlock your deals. If you use a different code in each of your marketing efforts you will be able to track which avenues were most successful, providing valuable data for future campaigns.
While the Golden Quarter is a boon for online sales, it’s crucial to not get caught up in the excitement and forget good business sense.
Competing to stand out in a sales event can often mean a race to provide the lowest price, to the point where profits can be seriously eroded. And it’s worth remembering that bargain hunters may show less brand loyalty than others, so your retention rates may not be as high as usual.
And if you do see a jump in online sales, it can place strain on your resources: are you able to process the volume of orders (and returns) that may result from a successful campaign? If you can’t, and your customer service levels drop, you won’t win any new loyal customers and you also risk earning negative reviews and damaging your online reputation.
The Golden Quarter can be a great way to attract new customers, gather data and even clear out old stock. But go in with your eyes open.
If this is your first Golden Quarter, or even if you’ve taken part before but think there could be better returns in it for you, you can get in touch with experts to help guide you through the process of planning, promotion and processing orders. At eBusiness UK, we have more than 20 years of experience building and supporting successful online retailers and we have the experience and expertise to help you realise your ambitions.
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