DTC Gifting
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4 Ways to Stretch Your Store’s Holiday Shopping Season & Sales

October 15, 2022
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Are you ready for the holiday shopping season? You’ve done your market research, ordered plenty of inventory, updated your website, and scheduled your holiday marketing campaigns.

All the table stakes and must-dos are wrapped up, but will that be enough to get you the ecommerce growth you’re looking for this year?

Smashing your own personal records and having a wildly successful holiday season means, for the most part, selling more than you have in previous years. Common tactics to help hit that mark include buying more ads, sending more marketing emails, deploying more promos or BOGOs or sales full of FOMO. These strategies can quickly drain even big budgets, but there is another way to conserve your cash and sell more—simply add more shopping days to the holidays.

The Hurdles of Extending Your Store’s Holiday Shopping Season

That’s right; you want to make the shopping window last as long as possible and squeeze as many gift sales out of it as you can muster. You want to encourage customers to keep shopping on your site right up to Christmas Day (and even through the new year). While many ecommerce brands look to start their holiday shopping season earlier every year, not many have cracked the code to extending the gifting window.

The biggest roadblock to prolonging holiday shopping is logistics. Shoppers want to give a gift that can be unwrapped on the holiday itself, and unless you’re running Amazon or a local shop with same-day delivery options, shipping is the hurdle ecommerce hasn’t yet cleared for last-minute holiday gifting.

The rest of your holiday marketing and sales strategies may be a well-oiled machine. Hopefully, you’ve been nurturing your email list—inviting customers to visit your ecommerce store all year long, keeping up with transparency, engaging your audience. When your store is top of mind before the holidays hit, your helpful strategies like gift guides and promotions are trusted by your audience. People are already heading to your online store to buy gifts because of your year-round efforts, but now is the time to pin down the strategy to help them gift more throughout the season.  

Maximizing your customer’s ecommerce gifting opportunities while ensuring they have a great customer experience on your website can be challenging. But with a little planning and creativity, you can create opportunities and incentives for customers to shop early, shop late, and—most importantly—always shop with you. Knock this holiday season outta the park with these four season-extending strategies:

1. Give Shoppers a Good Reason to Buy Early

While drawing out the shopping season is the strategic treasure, starting your holiday incentives early is now standard across online brands. Getting your customers to commit early while they still have plenty to spend is an effective way to expand your sales. You can offer early bird incentives to encourage customers to start their holiday shopping well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well as compete with other brands in your vertical.

While steep sales and price-slashing have their time and place, there are strategies you can set up that keep your margins healthy.

  • Offer new holiday product drops to your most valuable customers first. In this case, you could consider offering a one-time discount offer, since your most valuable customers are also the most likely to spend more with you throughout the holidays, which makes up for the difference.

  • Build limited-time product bundles offered at a slightly lower cost than if the items were purchased individually. Not only will your shoppers feel happy to save a few extra bucks, but they’ll be relieved of the stress of piecing together a great gift bundle themselves.

  • Incentivize early Q4 customers with a coupon they can redeem in the new year. This offers a bonus for buying early and encourages them to return once the holidays are over.

  • Create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) around your best-selling products. Messaging such as “Our hottest product won’t last until Cyber Monday” could be enough to inspire folks to buy it before the rush and secure the perfect present. Consider adding FOMO-inducing alert bars or landing pages on your most popular products.

Moment's annual holiday sale email marketing.
This email by Moment generates some serious FOMO and encourages early shopping for an extended season.

Reserve flash sales and limited-time offers for surplus stock or inventory that needs to move quickly. People are willing to pay more for quality products and great shopping experiences. Offer both, and you shouldn’t have to adjust your pricing too much to still drive sales.

2. Generate Loyalty Leading up to the Holidays

Along with early shopper incentives to draw in the customers, consider rolling out a loyalty campaign to reward shopping with you.

Put your mailing list to use and offer repeat customers goodies like free holiday cards and free gift wrap for gift purchases. With an increasing number of ecommerce shoppers choosing to select gifts online and have them shipped directly to the recipient, knowing that their gift will arrive in pretty holiday wrapping paper and not just a shipping box will enhance the gifting experience for both giver and receiver (and they’ll remember that it was your store that went above and beyond for them).

Whether you are already running a points-based loyalty program or are looking to start rewarding your most loyal customers it’s not too late to get into the loyalty game. Offer a different reward every week leading up to the holidays, or create your own take on the “12 Days of Christmas” with a different deal each day.

Beyond free gift wrap or generating loyalty pre-holidays, a good strategy is to offer a per-gift incentive, too. For instance, “Get 20% off for every five gifts you purchase this holiday season,” or “Save $1 for every $10 in gifts you purchase” are direct loyalty-building tactics that encourage gift sales and savings.  

A Noodles & Company promotional email.
This Noodles & Co. email is a great example of encouraging loyalty through a variety of date-specific offers and incentives.

3. Consider Discounted Shipping for Late-season Purchases

For your best customers and your biggest spenders, offering free shipping over a certain purchase amount can sweeten the pot for those whose gifting plan is purely online shopping and delivery.

Another effective way to extend your holiday shopping season is to accommodate the last-minute shoppers with sweet shipping deals. However, the logistics of offering and meeting those shipping expectations are tough, especially around the holidays when the volume of goods being shipped can cause major clogs in the delivery pipeline.

Eighty percent of consumers expect free shipping, especially if they exceed a certain dollar value in their cart. However, most standard rate free shipping can still take anywhere from five to 10 days (or longer). When the holidays are knocking, most folks don’t have 10 days to wait around, and the free shipping they want is at odds with their timeline.

One way to reduce any shipping frustration is to be firm in your dates or rates and send out clear reminders for when folks should place orders based on their needs. This email from Danner is a great example of reminding shoppers that ship happens and they should order soon.

Danner's holiday shipping cutoff email reminder.
Danner's friendly shipping reminder offers transparency with customers and is a good strategy for building trust and stronger customer relationships.

Alternatively, you can offer to foot the bill for this extra speedy shipping. People will be more likely to shop with you if you’re offering free next-day shipping versus a competitor who isn’t, but that cost will probably have to come from somewhere. Whether it’s baked into the overall price of your products across your site or is something you’re willing to lump in order to sell more and earn more customers is up to you.

Consider creating a campaign that highlights discounts on expedited and express shipping to reassure your procrastinating customers that their gifts can still arrive on time for the holiday celebrations. Combining a sale like this with advertising such as “arrives for Christmas” or “ships now” will appeal to your later shoppers. You’ll be the hero when you reduce their stress and supply a memorably great customer experience.

If you choose to offer free and fast shipping, rest-assured that the customer experience will certainly be a positive one when your shoppers realize that not only can their gifts still arrive on time, but the shipping won’t cost more than the gift.

4. Add Zest to Dodge Shipping Woes and Relieve Every Last-minute Shopper

Each of the strategies suggested are great ways to encourage more gift sales leading up to a gifting event, but what about the day of? Turns out, lots of shoppers procrastinate not out of laziness but because of anxiety.

The desire and pressure to pick out the perfect gifts can leave many people scrambling and settling for something less than thoughtful. And with around one in five folks being afflicted with chronic procrastination, you can bet that many of your shoppers are looking for a hope and a prayer on Christmas Eve.

This is where Zest comes in. While it’s the best gifting experience you could offer any time of the year, it’s an especially critical tool for ecommerce stores around the holidays. Stressed shoppers can click the Zest button on a product or cart page, pick a card, write a note, and deliver a thoughtful, meaningful gift within minutes.

Zest’s instant gift experience means people can purchase and send a gift up until the moment everyone is gathered around and unwrapping goodies. Their recipient will enjoy the unique experience of digitally unwrapping their gift just moments after it’s delivered by text, message, or email.

A GIF demonstrating Zest's digital unwrapping experience.
Gift recipients get the thrill of digitally unwrapping their thoughtful surprise.

When using Zest gifting as a strategy to extend your holiday sales, send a reminder to your customers that this last-minute savior exists. A simple, “It’s not too late—send a gift from BRAND instantly” will relieve the stress of your shoppers and increase sales on days when gift sales would otherwise be practically zilch.

Zest Is the Only Tool to Extend Your Holiday Sales

With Zest, you can help your customers end the stress and shame of having waited too long to send the perfect gift. Not only can it create a stress-free gifting experience for the giver, but it also creates an innovative and fun experience for the receiver. No matter the reason for a last-minute gift, you will definitely save the holidays by offering your customers the solution to shopping procrastination or an easy option for the person who’s looking for “one last thing” to give that special someone.

Shopping and shipping deadlines don’t have to mean an early end for your holiday sales season. By employing these ecommerce gifting strategies, you can extend your holiday season all the way up to Christmas morning and even into the new year.

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Liz Lorge
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