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What matters, at the most important time of the year for many retailers, is what can you do to make it a Merry Christmas. For you and your customers.

Choose your stock carefully

It stands to reason that people are going to want to save pennies where they can this year, so be careful not to overstock items with high-ticket prices, as shoppers may want to trade down to cheaper products.

The trick will be to balance luxury items with regular stocking staples. And make sure you have sufficient Christmas stock (in the low and mid-range) to counter any supply chain snags1, particularly in China where lockdown measures have had a knock-on effect.

The good news is that canny shoppers will start their Christmas shopping in advance to snap up bargains, so you might want to encourage early shopping on your website with Autumn promotions.

Spread the cheer

Help customers treat themselves (it’s Christmas after all), with special offers to help them get the best value for money and opportunities to trade down if they need.

Competitions and giveaways can also stir up interest and don’t have to cost the earth. You can use them to build up your database of prospects using end-of-line products, or to cast a spotlight on a new item you want to promote.

Offer a range of delivery options

Recent research from Myfavouritevouchercodes.co.uk showed that 71% of UK online shoppers would do everything they can to avoid paying online delivery charges. 51% would buy more items to get free delivery and 39% would abandon their cart if they could get free delivery elsewhere2.

Of course, you need to consider your profit margins, particularly if you’re sending heavy items, but a little number crunching now could lead to a big uplift in sales closer to the holiday season. Adding the option to collect festive items from a parcel shop, can also be a great way to help shoppers save money vs delivery to the door.

You might also want to add a range of delivery options to cater for cost conscious early bird shoppers and last-minute shoppers who are panicking about what to buy. Next-day delivery may cost extra but they might be in a no-win situation without it.

Reduce your returns

The average return rate for ecommerce sales is 18.1%.3.

Here are a few hints that will help get them down to a minimum:

Accuracy – of course your sales hook needs to be compelling, but thereafter makes sure you give a full and accurate description, so your buyer isn’t disappointed when it arrives in the post. That means help with sizes (Shopify claim 52% of fashion items are returned because they’re too small or too big)4.
If you don’t have the budget to hire a copywriter, bullet points work just fine.

Images – make sure your site images are sharp and accurate for colour. 22% of returns are triggered by variation in appearance5.

Video – 65% of consumers6 claim that product videos help them imagine the item in reality. Great videos also tend to get shared on social media.

Feedback – if you are getting returns make sure you take a proper look at customer feedback. They may well tell you what’s wrong with it!

Don’t scrimp on customer service

The festive season starts in earnest in October, so there’s an opportunity to go the extra mile to drive repeat purchases and inspire happy shoppers to tell their friends how great you are.

The question is, where does the extra glitter come from? Here are a few ideas:

  • Make sure your staff are friendly and accessible via all your customer touchpoints – phone, online and social channels – to chat if there’s an issue that needs resolving or they simply want a bit more insight into a product they’re considering to buy.
  • Think about packaging. That doesn’t have to mean more paper (we’re all meant to be saving trees after all). But think about how you can make it more stylish.
  • An article from Psychology & Marketing7 outlines how researchers used an MRI machine to measure brain activity while study participants viewed different types of packaging8. Unsurprisingly plain utilitarian packaging had very little effect, while more attractive packaging fired people up, activating the parts of the brain associated with reward.
  • If you’re already invested in recycled or green packaging don’t be shy about it. Publicise it on your site and marketing. After all you want people to feel good about buying through you and come back for more.
  • Send follow up emails. These are a great way to congratulate your buyer on their purchase and cross-sell them other items. As we all know it’s much easier to generate sales from existing customers rather than find new prospects. Here are a few ways you might engage with customers post-purchase:
  • Thank you for shopping with us together with any useful supplementary information about the product they’ve bought
  • Ideas for gifting by audience type or activity i.e. gifts for teens or winter sports
  • Story about you and your brand and how you’re preparing for Christmas
  • Invite customers to follow you on social media. If you’re comfortable posting content on Facebook, Instagram or Tik Tok, make sure your customers are aware. If you add the occasional promotion, so much the better. Mulberry used Instagram to mark the twelve days of Christmas, highlighting a new gift each day. It’s a simple idea, that put the brand front-of-mind with consumers on the look-out for luxury gifts over the festive period.

It’s likely that revenues will be affected by the many global and local factors shaping our economy, but there’s a lot that retailers can do to maximise sales and help make it a very merry Christmas in 2022, by adding a little sparkle to your brand in the run up to the festive season.

All it takes is a little forward planning.



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