The retailer’s guide to planning Christmas 2017 – Part three Published August 17, 2017 In the final part of our retailer’s guide to planning Christmas, we look at promotions. How do you ensure Christmas promotions are communicated well to stimulate sales, so you to reach that all-important end-of-year target? The answer is by planning every last detail. As the sun beats down on a hot summer’s day it can be hard to turn our thoughts to planning the long dark days of November and December trading. But for retailers, planning Christmas in the summer months is a necessity. So, what are the key things you need to consider when planning your Christmas promotions? Read on to find out. Promotions and cyber days Each year retailers launch their Christmas campaign expecting the floodgates to open and customers to start spending in droves. This may be the case for a few in early November but many retailers find that sales don’t increase significantly until late November. They often see major uplifts during Black Friday (this year on November 24th 2017) and Cyber Monday (this year on November 27th 2017). From the day before Black Friday, your customers will expect deals and promotions. This remains true until Cyber Monday is over, with many people hanging fire from buying until these days come round. No matter how much promoting, discounting or teasing you do, it’s very hard to shift sales from these peak periods—and if you discount before, you may end up needlessly reducing your margins. Last chances Always tell your customers when big promotions are coming to an end and send them a ‘last chance’ email 24 hours before the expiry. This email creates a second wave of sales from shoppers wanting to redeem the offer in the final hours. Consumers are often waiting for ‘the best offer’ during the Christmas period. Some even place bets on sites such a www.moneysavingexpert.com as to how deep discounts will go and which retailers are offering the best promotions. These forums are a great way to keep an eye on competitors too! Make your promotions clear and easy to understand, ensuring they can be used across your stores and websites on as many items as possible. Broad discounts such as 25% off all purchases usually stimulate a huge response. And always give recipients the ability to forward emails on to friends to give your offer the widest possible audience. Reassurance and customer service Make sure your customer knows that you really do deliver on your promises by reassuring them about your delivery and returns policy. Make it explicit what your last delivery date is, and make it clear that it’s fast and simple to return goods if they’re not suitable. Don’t forget to make it easy for customers to contact you on email and telephone—don’t hide your contact centre details otherwise they’ll only vent publicly on social media. Remember not to be over-ambitious on fulfilment, stock or last day delivery dates—if you get it wrong you’ll lose long-term custom and gain a bad reputation which will be hard to shake. And when it comes to communications, make sure your store staff know exactly what promises you’ve made on email otherwise customers will only get mixed messages in-store. The final days Once your last delivery date for online purchases passes then your email communications should be focused on driving people in-store to purchase. Don’t be afraid to communicate a sense of urgency with a countdown to how many shopping days are left until the big day—and be clear that your stores are open right up until the last minute. Promote ‘click and collect’ if you offer it and tell customers how your store staff will help them find the gifts they need, to reassure and encourage last-minute shoppers. Conclusion These are just a few of our top tips for retailers planning their email activity over the Christmas period. If you’ve not already read part one and part two of our guide then make sure you do—they cover all the basics to get your planning started and how to get your email strategy right over the festive period. So, now it’s time to get stuck in: finalise those budgets, review the creative ideas, and get planning for November and December. To supercharge your festive planning, download our guide to Christmas email strategy below.