How to sell more online this Christmas

It’s going to be a digital Christmas!!

Given the state of the world with Covid-19 and our own national lockdown till early December, it’s going to be a digital Christmas for sure. Take note, many industry experts predict that online sales will account for 40% of all Christmas purchases this year.  

On many occasions in this column, I have supported IE Domain Registry in their relentless call for businesses to beef up their on-line presence. Enterprise Ireland too has done its bit to help with various grants. If you’re not there by now, then I suspect you have probably decided against it.  

Today, I’m going to shift my emphasis to those that have already invested and now want to exploit the channel to save Christmas and to maximize sales.

The challenge for you with your online store is how to stand out in a very crowded marketplace. In the world of bricks and mortar (which of course has not, and never will go away, it’s temporarily interrupted due to C-19) your competition was more manageable and transparent. Now with your online shopwindow having to compete with massive and numerous global players with endless aisles, the game has significantly changed.

Government ministers, Retail Excellence Ireland, this newspaper and Ryan Tubridy are appealing to consumers to please spend locally this year. But don’t rely on that green-jersey battle-cry. There is so much that you can and have to do yourself.

Tips for maximizing digital sales this Christmas.

Regular readers of this column will have seen my simple sales model before. F x C x A = S

‘F – Footfall’ (the number of customers entering the store) multiplied by ‘C – Conversion’ (the percentage of those that actually buy rather than just browse) multiplied by ‘ATV – Average Transaction Value’, equals Sales. These three pillars give you signposts to help you to build a sales plan. Remember, sales is a numbers game. So when one of these pillars is lower, you may be able to rebalance with extra emphasis on the other two.

Guess what? The same formula works for online selling too. While the framework is the same, the detail is different. And the skills that have already made you a great retailer will work here too, with some tweaking.

Whether it’s website design or digital marketing, I always turn to Jeff Sheridan and his powerhouse team, in Matrix Internet. He and I had a good chat this week to come up with a collection of nuggets to help you get your fair share of digital sales this Christmas.

  1. Drive footfall to your site. “Know what customers you are targeting” said Jeff. “Create about five different profiles or avatars and anticipate what their buying motives might be”. For example, a customer buying a couch in the next week will undoubtedly want it for Christmas. So let them know you can deliver on that.

One reason why two-thirds of customers abandon online stores is due to slow delivery speeds. There is a natural impatience built in to the buying experience, so get purchases out as quickly as possible. It might also be worth checking your carriers scheduling plans this season. They’re going to be very busy, so don’t let them prioritise other retailers over you.

Another reason for customer drop-offs is your returns policy. Check local and global competitors to identify your distinct advantage.  

  • Convert browsers to shoppers. “Stand up, stand out, stand for something” said Jeff. Matrix has conducted a digital audit of 160 members of the Irish Design and Craft Centre. “Their most common omission was that they didn’t tell their story” said Jeff. “The big brands like Amazon are anonymous and product led. Irish brands however have so much character and soul to express. So tell your story to inspire customers”. Avoca Handweavers for example, tells its 300 year old story, and gets a premium price for its quality Aran sweaters.

Replicate your store experience online. “Your team may give wonderful personal experiences to your customers in store. You can do that online too with assisted selling through live webchat. Customers can type in their queries which arrive to your mobile device, enabling you to give an immediate answer and direct them” said Jeff. Check out Tidio for example, which is really easy to set up and it’s free.

  • Increase ATV. Retailers already know the importance of up-selling and link-selling. Up-selling for example, is where the sales assistant encourages a customer to buy a 70ml fragrance instead of a 50ml bottle. Link-selling on the other hand is about inspiring a customer to buy an additional item, such as scarf to go with the bag.

“All of this is possible too with online selling. Look at how Netflix and Amazon inspire us by telling us that buyers of a particular product also bought this…” said Jeff.

Another great tool to increase ATV is click-and-collect. (Now often called BOPIS, buy-online pickup in store). Research shows that when customers go to a store to collect their online purchase, they buy additional items. This is one of the reasons why online-only brands like Amazon are opening stores in the US.

The Last Word

The old retail adage, ‘location, location, location’ is well gone. None of Cash and Carry Kitchens stores is on a main thoroughfare, yet they are the largest kitchen retailer in Ireland because of their spend on advertising. That shows how progressive retailers can proactively connect with customers to draw them to their brand.

You too can attract domestic and indeed, international customers to your online store. This Christmas, it’s not just about fighting for the local market. Customers the world over are influenced by great content and authenticity.

Alan O’Neill, author of “Premium is the New Black” is a Keynote Speaker and owner of Kara, specialists in strategy, culture and people development. Go to www.kara.ie to access a free on-line course Supercharge your Sales!

© Copyright. Alan O’Neill. All rights reserved. 2020