The festive season is nearly upon us – with the ongoing Durga Puja celebrations and Dussera and Diwali just round the corner. Although for most people it would mean a well deserved holiday time, for all the online sellers out there this is the annual golden opportunity to spike up those sales. Just take a look at these Google Trends statistics – they clearly show a spike in search keywords related to festive shopping around this time of the year. Festivals like Diwali spell shopping sprees in India – everything from clothes, electronics, footwear, jewellery to automobile markets is deeply affected by these shopping trends. People love to indulge themselves and their loved ones during festivals, and the online retail market banks on it. A 2013 survey by Assocham revealed that online retailers were expecting upwards of 250% rise in sales during the Diwali season. So what can a smart seller do to make the most out of festival shoppers? Let’s look at 6 pro-tips for online sellers to drive and manage sales during the festive season.
How to Prepare for the Festive Season
1. Analyse the sales trends
First thing to do while strategizing your marketing and sales plan is to analyse the sales trends during festive seasons. Google Trends is a good place to start. Just type in keywords that you would expect a shopper to ask and look at how they did the last festive season. But Google Trends will only take you to a point. In-depth analysis of sales trends will require a more sophisticated ecommerce tracking system. The best way is to look at your own sales reports from the previous season. Learn from your mistakes and decide what products to push and when. Cashkaro.com, a cashback and coupons site, did a detailed analysis of ecommerce shopping trends of 2013 that will be helpful here.
2. Catch the early birds and the latecomers
The prudent shoppers among us like to finish up their festival shopping as early as a couple of months before the season. And then there are the latecomers who frantically search for gift baskets on the eve of the festival. Try not to forget both these demographics. The pre-festival sales strategy is organic and subject to change. While the early birds are looking for a wholesome shopping experience, the latecomers prioritize early delivery more than anything else. Build your strategy so that it serves both these markets.
3. Be prepared for a spike in order volume
One visit to a mall during the pre-festival sales will tell you everything about a buyer’s mentality. Though the cliched sitcom scene where women fight over a dress on sale in a mall might be a teeny bit hyperbolic, it’s not too far off from reality. Therefore, keep your inventory stocked better than you would during a usual sales cycle. Study your sales reports and extrapolate the numbers that you would require.
4. Focus on delivery
The one priority of festive season shoppers is timing. Since the products that you are shipping will either be gifted or flaunted during the festival, efficient delivery is the key to a satisfied festive customer. Pre-season is therefore a good time to give your packing, shipping and delivery systems a complete overhaul. Certain ecommerce giants like Amazon provide a delivery fulfilment option for their sellers. Consider subscribing to them while working to improve the delivery system for your independent website. Using an inventory management system like Browntape, that drastically cuts back your shipping time by automatically printing shipping labels is also a great choice.
5. Manage offers and returns
Most of your competitors, both offline and online, are going to offer various schemes and discounts during the festive shopping season, and you will have to keep up with them. According to the abovementioned survey conducted by Cashkaro.com, a whopping 96% of Indian consumers would like to avail cashback and coupon offers on their festive shopping. Although the numbers seem favorable, it is good to carefully plan your offers policy, instead of a straight sweep into discounts. Returns are another major game-changer during the festive season. See these tips to better manage your product returns during the shopping season, and tweak them to suit the higher inventory and sales requirements.
6. Beware of website traffic
For the online retailers who own and operate dedicated sales websites, it is vital to test whether your servers can handle the excess load of online shoppers during the festive season. If your website goes down during the peak sales time, it could cost you a lot. Check the load bearing capabilities, speed, link activity, content, images, etc. of your website well before the season commences. LoadImpact and WebPageTest are two free tools that you can use to test and optimize your website before the shopping rush.
Get in touch with Browntape for more information on getting ready for the festive season. As India’s leading multi-channel online inventory management service providers, we are always happy to help!