Monthly Archives: July 2016

Trends That Will Drive Sales

If you haven’t already started prepping your business for the holidays, now is the time to start. Black Friday is less than a month away, but many consumers start their shopping well before that — waiting too long means missing out on valuable sales opportunities. “Holiday shopping seems to be starting earlier and earlier every year,” said Lisa Graves, senior email marketing strategist at DEG, a full-service digital marketing agency. “Nov. 1 is when the bulk of your customers begin purchasing for the holidays.” To make the 2016 holiday season your best one yet, here are four big marketing trends you can capitalize on right now.

No matter how much of your sales come from e-commerce, it’s important to provide a seamless, fast web experience for your customers. A 2015 report from website performance solutions provider Radware found that slow websites mean fewer sales — 57 percent of consumers will abandon a site that fails to load after 3 seconds. Small e-commerce companies can’t afford to lose this kind of business during such a busy season, so be sure to address any lags or missing features on your website and identify potential sales trends for the season.

You’ll also want to make sure your website is mobile-optimized for holiday shoppers. A report by marketing solutions provider SteelHouse states that retail sales on smartphones have nearly doubled year over year (according to eMarketer), so give your site a checkup to make sure everything is running smoothly. “We’ve seen a rise in multidevice shoppers the past two years, which is why the seamless experience is so critical,” Graves told Business News Daily.

What Your Business Needs to Do Now

In the retail world, early fall means holiday prep time. Some shoppers have already begun working through their gift list, and the major post-Thanksgiving shopping days —Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday — will be here soon. A successful holiday sales season depends on early planning and consistent marketing, especially if you’re a small business competing against retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Target. Sales and marketing experts offered their advice to help you make 2016 your best holiday season yet.

Shopping day guide Not sure which days you should focus on for your post-Thanksgiving sales? Here’s a quick rundown of each sale day, its history and which businesses it suits best. Black Friday According to Visual Thesaurus, the day after Thanksgiving came to be known as “Black Friday” in the early 1960s, when Philadelphia police officers used it as a negative term to describe the city’s holiday shopping traffic jams. The name stuck, and in the ’80s, businesses put a positive spin on Black Friday by rebranding it as a day for stores to “get back in the black.” While larger merchants usually rule Black Friday with midnight (or earlier) openings and sales throughout the day, many small businesses also offer in-store and online discounts. Read our Black Friday tips here. Small Business Saturday Small Business Saturday is all about celebrating local merchants. Started by American Express during the 2010 holiday season, this sale day encourages consumers to “shop small,” and give independent retailers a fighting chance in between the huge Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales of larger competitors. Small Business Saturday is typically geared toward promoting brick-and-mortar retailers, and continues to grow in consumer recognition and spending each year. Read our Small Business Saturday tips here. Cyber Monday About a decade ago, e-commerce businesses began noticing that sales increased on the Monday after Thanksgiving, when most Americans are back to work after the long weekend. A press release issued in 2005 by the National Retail Federation officially coined the term “Cyber Monday,” and by 2010, it had become the biggest online shopping day of the year, The Washington Post reported. Retailers that sell exclusively online love to run sales on Cyber Monday, but those that have brick-and-mortar and e-commerce operations can also take advantage of this shopping day.

Read our Cyber Monday tips here. Trends to watch 1. Online sales will continue to grow. Amit Mathradas, general manager and head of Small Business North America for PayPal, said there has been disproportionate holiday shopping growth from online channels. Deloitte predicts overall e-commerce sales to grow by 17 to 19 percent from last year’s shopping season, including mobile commerce growth of 42 percent. Mathradas said that to capitalize on this growth, merchants will need to focus on reducing shopping-cart abandonment — in other words, when online shoppers add items to their virtual shopping carts but don’t follow through to purchase those items — particularly on mobile devices. “Online sales and an emphasis on mobile are categorical imperatives,” he said. “A site not rendering properly on a mobile device, or any hiccups in payment processing, can cause a ripple effect in terms of lost sales.” 2. In-store shopping still rules certain industries. In a blog post on FTI Journal, Christa Hart, senior managing director of retail and consumer products at FTI Consulting, said that in certain product categories — appliances, furniture, food and groceries — the majority of consumers prefer to shop in-store. Even for apparel and footwear, more than half of consumers surveyed by FTI prefer in-store shopping. 3. Younger shoppers’ habits have shifted. Understanding the shopping habits of the coveted millennial market is crucial to landing their business, especially in a brick-and-mortar retail setting, according to Hart. “In the past, these shoppers would stroll the mall in groups and go from store to store … [which] led to impulse buying along with preplanned purchasing,” Hart wrote. “Today, shopping is still a social activity for millennials, but it’s often more of an offline-to-online experience. Friends text photos and opinions of the products they see or try on to each other before deciding whether to purchase — either on the spot or later online.”