13 Holiday Strategies and Considerations for eCommerce Brands in 2021

It’s that time of year again – the holiday shopping season! Whether you feel like your brand is ready for an influx of new shoppers or you still have a bit of work to do, CAKE is here to help ensure you see the best possible returns this holiday season.

That’s why we’re publishing our 2021 Holiday Strategies and Considerations for eCommerce Brands guide. Watch out, these strategies are hot out of the oven! Our guide details a baker’s dozen (13) important things to remember for a successful sales season.

Think of it as mixing up the tastiest online shopping season with a heaping dose of sales-savvy buttercream on top. Our 2021 guide to holiday sales is even bigger – and sweeter – than last year’s! So, get your aprons on and whisks at the ready! Let’s dive in.

Pre-Season Considerations:

Before the first snowflake falls, you’ll want to start preparing a game plan for how to increase holiday sales this season. Here are a few pre-holidays tips to keep in mind.

Pay Attention to Product Selection

While it would be fun to promote everything in your product catalog all at once, it is a much better idea to select one or two things to highlight. This keeps your customers from becoming too overwhelmed by (or drowning in) sales promotions.

What we’ve also seen in the past with some of our clients is that bestsellers and gift sets sell better than other items. Capitalize on this by ensuring plenty of visibility for those items on your website and marketing graphics across all channels.

One thing to keep in mind: Make it easy for customers to find a reason for buying a gift from your online store. For example, add in sorting capabilities or gift guides that feature products for recipients by age, interest level, or other targeted demographics.

Prepare for Shipping Changes

As a result of the pandemic’s cleaning and distancing protocols, last year’s shipping was a hot, sticky mess. This year, we’re still seeing shipping delays due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in a shipping port in China, which has backlogged the entire logistics chain.

That being said, it will be important to be open and honest with shoppers about potential delays in shipping and arrival times. Simply put, it is better to set expectations from the beginning than to have to deal with a mess of customer service issues and complaints later on.

Increased fuel costs are also expected to raise rates. Retailers are encouraged to plan their shipping strategies accordingly, especially when offering free shipping or returns. A few of the most important shipping deadlines to remember this year include:

USPS

  • USPS Retail Ground Service - December 15th
  • First-Class Mail Service - December 17th
  • Priority Mail Service- December 18th
  • Priority Mail Express Service - December 23rd

FedEx

  • FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Ground - December 15th
  • FedEx Express Saver, FedEx 3Day Freight - December 21st
  • FedEx 2Day - December 22nd
  • FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx Extra Hours - December 23rd
  • FedEx SameDay - December 24th

UPS

  • Ground - This depends on the zip code. Check the UPS website for details.
  • 3-Day Select - December 21st
  • 2nd Day Air - December 22nd
  • Next Day Air - December 23rd

Consider Running Discount Periods Early

The last few years have shown dramatic changes in the holiday shopping season. For one, major retailers experienced a significant increase in sales as a result of running promotions before the Thanksgiving weekend – some as early as the first week of November.

This is important to keep in mind as the holiday shopping season is now in full swing. If you haven’t released your seasonal promotions yet, now would be a good time to start. Despite that most people do their holiday shopping on Black Friday weekend, there will be many looking for additional sales and special deals closer to the holidays.

Take advantage of this opportunity to win over the season’s stragglers! Begin running your holiday promotions NOW to make the most of this short season.

Creating a Killer Holiday Marketing Strategy

At CAKE, our team is here to help you create a top-tier holiday marketing strategy for your brand. Here are a few of our baker’s choice tips to fold into your seasonal campaigns.

Develop More of an Omnichannel Strategy

A few years ago, Facebook ads were the best approach for holiday promo marketing. Now, more people are shifting away from this platform and turning to other social channels like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. Likewise, the use of influencer marketing is becoming more prevalent. Because of this, adopting an omnichannel strategy is one of the easiest and most important ways to get in front of customers this year, both new and returning.

Use Gated Content

This year, gated content is a big deal. Shoppers are highly receptive to the idea that they can get a special offer or freebie item for joining an email list. But this campaign doesn’t have to stop at mailing lists. Consider granting users access to digital media like videos, downloadable lookbooks, shopping guides, when they “sign up” to boost your mailing list.

Offer Plenty of Incentives

Projections suggest that 30% of all purchases made this holiday season are going to be online. The major retail brands are already preparing for this, which means you need to be ready to compete with irresistible incentives.

One way to get ahead of the competitors is to switch things up a bit this year. While gift wrapping and free shipping are great, they’re predictable and shoppers see these offers year after year. Brainstorm some other more unique offers, like purchasing a preset order amount and getting a free gift card or even free one-hour curbside delivery (if you have a local store). Even something as simple as a ‘send as a gift’ option on your website that allows customers to add a note and a bow can really drive a shopper to purchase.

Customize the User Experience

There have been a lot of leaps this year in terms of BigCommerce and Shopify apps that make it easier to customize user experiences with your online brand. Elements like quizzes, games, and other interactive media are always a hit, especially if they have a holiday theme attached to them. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your content!

Six Tips for Planning Effective Promotions

As a little extra treat, our CAKE team put together some of our best tips for planning effective promotions. Here are a few ideas to consider.

Determine Your End Game

Before you can begin planning your promotions, there is one thing to consider: What is most important to your brand for this holiday shopping season? In other words, determine your goal. Is it increased purchases from new or existing customers? Are you trying to get rid of excess inventory before the end of the year? Do you want to push a new product?

Whatever your endgame is, it’s important to establish a clear goal (or set of goals) as you plan your holiday promotions. Your goals will help you build the roadmap to success on how to best achieve them.

Dive into the Data

One thing to consider when building your promotions is data from previous years. Use this data to decide the channels you want to focus on. Look for how your promotions performed in the past to identify any weak points and things you will need to change.

Take a Peek at the Competition

It never hurts to check out what your competitors are doing! Take a peek at some of the latest promos from other stores in your industry. You can use these as inspiration for your own marketing messages, so long as you don’t copy them. The great thing about consulting competitors for a bit of inspiration is they can give you some ideas to consider, all while remaining unique to your brand.

Shape Your Incentive

The most important part of a promotion is its ability to reach your customers. So, consider what type of promotion would most appeal to your target audience(s).

Get Creative

Creativity is key, and there is a lot you can play with during the holiday season. Use consistent messaging paired with eye-catching graphics, videos, and copy across all marketing channels. Bonus points if your content is holiday-themed, as this gets shoppers excited about the seasonal sales.

The Best Way to Make Holiday Sales? Consult with CAKE!

At CAKE, there’s no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. That’s why our team is comprised of experts from every corner of eCommerce marketing from design to paid search to email marketing and more!

For unmatched support this holiday season, contact CakeCommerce.