Capitalizing On Holiday Sales Data Should Give You An Edge For Increasing Sales In 2018

Last year’s holiday sales volumes accounted for just about a third of the retailer’s eCommerce sales during the period from Black Friday through Christmas Day! This is according to Statista.com’s analysis of the data. Which worked out to be about $80 Billion Dollars. This year the estimates have already been blown away by preliminary figures coming in at more than 107 Billion and counting. Now, this is fresh data and like anything else needs to be analyzed.

And for your own business, especially those that make use of analytical software such as Google Analytics, Retention-Grid, and Miva. Now is NOT the time to close your books on 2017 sales data. It’s important to analyze everything that happened in your business during the holidays, instead of closing the books and diving into 2018.That is where a lot of eCommerce merchants drop the ball on working towards building a profitable base for the New Year. Looking at the data can help you understand what worked and what didn’t, as well as reveal issues and opportunities. All of those insights are based on a large volume of data, so your statistics are more significant, and your learnings more advanced.

Before you can formulate any kind of plan objective for the New Year, you need to make sure your data is accurate and not skewed by 3rd party projections that may or may not be hitting the mark. One of the surest ways to do this is to carve a block period of sales from your data. Taking a non-holiday period for close analysis and compare it against your store’s platform analytics built-in programs. This will, or should give you a pretty good comparison on what actually is being reported. But you can also use what was mentioned above for another comparison, just to be sure you get the information you need in order to formulate your plans.

Once you know your data is “clean,” you can start looking at it individually, and then holistically. Some straightforward metrics to consider include:

Top-line revenue
Total sales
Sales by location, channel or staff
Backorders
Stock-outs
Average order value
Inventory turnover ratio
Promo code and coupon usage metrics
Service delays
Traffic — foot traffic if you’re selling in-store, web traffic if you’re selling online
Tech stack issues
Fulfillment processes and delays
Pick and pack inefficiencies

It’s Not Just Solid Numbers Either!
When analyzing the numbers, always do a year-over-year comparative analysis if possible. This will tell you the most about where your business is now compared to where it was last year. From there, the question you should be asking is why? Why did these numbers occur, and then what effect did that have on the customer experience? If the average order value was significantly higher than last year, is that because you were more effective in cross-promotion? Or did you have more traffic going to your website because of an increased marketing budget?

Understanding those whys will help you determine action items for changing your business, both in the short- and long-term.

Your hard numbers aren’t the only ones that matter. There are external factors to consider, as well as qualitative data, which can help you connect the dots between all your data points.

Industry trends: What’s going on in the eCommerce industry, and your specific niche market, that may have affected your bottom line? For example, if you look at consumer spending during the holidays for the past decade, you’ll see a dip during the recession in 2008 and 2009. It’s likely that retailers’ 2008 numbers were lower than in 2007. And what if anything did this past presidential election play in where your sales picture is this year against last year?

Additionally, consumer behavior is changing. Today’s consumers plan for post-holiday sales! This year, 38 percent say they’ll wait until after December 25 to take advantage of those deals, up from a mere 5 percent in 2012. This indicates that retailers need to consider post-Christmas part of the holiday sales season. One question you need to ask yourself, are you continuing to promote hard your items that you want to clear out of stock? Do you have remarketing plans in effect so that you can reach back out to those who ordered and if you have the right functionality on your site the ones that were there looking but did not make a purchase at that time? These are the ones you really want to concentrate on!

Qualitative data: For many business owners, the best feedback you can get is from your customers. Talk to your sales and support teams and stress the importance of collecting and sharing customer feedback. Look at customer reviews to see if they’re singing a different tune than reviews you’ve received during the rest of the year. And the key is to “Talk to Them”! You would be surprised the reception you get from opening up a conversation with your customers yourself as the owner instead sending off a canned email response. People today more than ever appreciate a personal touch from a store owner. It makes them feel appreciated by you for their making a purchase at your store and spending their hard earned money with you, instead of someone else. So reach out, thank them and ask those questions that only they can answer. This way you can get their perspective on how they felt about their experience as they traversed your web store. It’s free, the only thing it will cost you is time and a long distance call. But that kind of overhead will pay for itself based on the informative feedback you get from talking to your customers, one-on-one!

Remember in order to capitalize on current trends, eCommerce retailers need to act fast to keep up and stay relevant. For short-term success, such as post-holiday sales or ways to prepare for 2018, try pop-up sales, ad retargeting, cross-selling customers who purchased products during the holidays, and targeting new audiences with messaging that has already proven to convert.

Long-term, recall the why behind the numbers. Looking at the big picture and including all data can help you identify trends in your customer behavior and adapt your business accordingly.

At the end of the day, retailers are most successful when they look at the data together, instead of isolating metrics individually. Considering all factors can help you understand your business and your customers, and acting upon those insights are what sets successful retailers apart.

But if you wait until after you’ve had a long rest after the frenzy of the holiday season, you’re letting yourself wide open to your competition gaining ground by maximizing the insights they are learning from analyzing their new accumulated data and beginning to hit the ground running for the 2018 early spring shopping season. Remember, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and even Easter is early this year. Are you going to be ready to provide a great shopping experience for those looking for the right gift at the right price?

If you would like a fresh set of eyes to analyze your data, give the knowledgeable team from Black Arrow Marketing a call @ 888.225.4780, and let them help you to get your 2018 sales action plan up and ready to perform.