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Marketing Tactics

5 Last-Minute Tips For Small Retailers To Boost Black Friday Sales

There’s still time to make sure your ecommerce site is optimised, your social campaigns are a success and your inventory is under control.

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The shop-till-you-drop season is upon us. While consumers are gearing up for long lines and cyber sales, small and mid-sized retailers are scrambling to prepare for the holiday rush. We get it – as a small business, you’re worried about having enough inventory, your ability to quickly fulfill orders and how you’re going to maximise sales during the busiest time of year.

Here are five tips to help you optimise your marketing efforts and streamline your operations for ultimate profitability this Black Friday and Cyber Monday – #BFCM!

1Get your ecommerce website on the nice list

Many businesses assume simply having a web presence is enough to attract and retain visitors, but most websites don’t automatically make it onto Santa’s nice list. Ecommerce websites need to be optimised for search, performance and usability in order to reach and engage online consumers.

Cyber Monday sales alone last year totalled $2.3 billion in the U.S., but if Google and other search engines don’t know your site exists, you’re missing out on your chunk of that market. And once people can find your site, you need to make sure you’re providing a great user experience to keep them there. According to Radware research, 57 percent of consumers will abandon a website that fails to load after three seconds.

Go through this quick checklist to ensure your web efforts aren’t getting lost in the white noise of the worldwide web:

  • Can Google and other search engines properly index and crawl your site?
  • Is your site targeting the proper keyword for your target audience?
  • Is your site optimised for mobile devices?
  • Is your site easy to navigate and search through?
  • Are you leveraging images to engage visitors?
  • Are your securing customer payment information?
  • Is your site integrated with social media platforms?

Related: 3 Holiday Retail Trends Entrepreneurs Need to Consider

2Remember: Social selling is everyone’s Secret Santa

Social media campaigns may seem like an obvious marketing suggestion, but these networks with millions of built-in, active audiences often go under-utilised by small and mid-sized business that don’t always have the time, resources and budget to support them. Yet, social media is increasingly used by consumers to research, discover and purchase products online – particularly during the holiday season.

Shopify reported ecommerce orders coming from social media in 2014 increased by 202 percent, and Vision Critical data revealed 40 percent of consumers made a purchase (either online or in-store) after favouriting a product on social media platforms.

The true beauty of social promotions is that you don’t need a budget to establish a presence and gain an audience – although a having a budget wouldn’t hurt. Here are some easy social activities you can do to start enjoying this gift that keeps on giving:

  • Determine the best social networks for your target audience
  • Develop branded accounts on your targeted social platforms
  • Regularly share your products and branded content (Pro Tip: Use relevant and timely hashtags like #BFCM)
  • Follow and engage users and fans
  • Try promoted posts
  • Experiment with Buy Button offers on sites like Pinterest and Twitter.

3Implement a centralised inventory management system to rival Santa’s Workshop

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In today’s connected world, retailers don’t only need to be on multiple social platforms, but also need multiple marketplaces. If you’re a small ecommerce retailer, you’re likely selling on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, as well as your own branded shopping cart sites on Shopify, WooCommerce, Bigcommerce, or Magento.

In fact, our Stitch Labs data shows businesses that use a single marketplace in addition to their branded shopping cart site make an average of 38 percent more revenue. And those leveraging two marketplaces see an average revenue increase of 120 percent.

While it certainly pays to utilise multi-channel selling, it can quickly become unmanageable from an inventory perspective. Who’s going to help you manage and track holiday orders across all your various sales channels? Not everyone has a workshop full of elves to help them.

No elves? No problem! With a centralised inventory management solution, you can sync all your sales channels into a single integrated system, automating order tracking so you can avoid overselling and delayed fulfillment. With your inventory management under control, you’ll have more time to focus on other business needs, like thinking up more winning marketing and sales strategies.

Related: 3 Ways Retailers Should Accommodate the Mobile-obsessed Customer

4Fulfillment that’s faster than a reindeer sleigh

Your ecommerce site is optimised, your social campaigns are a success and your inventory is under control – all leading to record holiday sales. But with increased sales, comes a spike in fulfillment demands. And no other time of year is shipping expediency a bigger customer demand. I’m looking at you, last-minute shoppers!

To keep up with crazy delivery demands, make sure your holiday fulfillment strategy includes:

  • Organised and well labeled storage facility
  • Ecommerce shipping partner like ShipStation or ShipEasy
  • Defined customer shipping price strategy (i.e. free shipping, flat rate, full charge)
  • Clear tracking and constant communication with your customer

5Customer service that brings Christmas cheer

While fast fulfillment is an important factor in ensuring great customer service, businesses need to create a positive overall shopping experience to truly win big with customers.

Holiday sales and promotions attract a greater number new customers, and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to convert one time shoppers into life-long customers. Cultivating and leveraging strong customer relationships is also an advantage smaller retailers can have over the larger, big-box stores.

Related: 6 Strategies for Marketing your Retail Business Online

Here are some tips to help you provide exceptional customer service this holiday season:

  • Develop consistent branding across online and in-store channels.
  • Provide an easy-to-navigate website.
  • Bundled product offers
  • Streamline the checkout process.
  • Communication order status
  • Facilitate fast shipping and fulfilment
  • Follow-up with emails for special offers and product recommendations
  • Offer rewards points and loyalty programmes.

With these last-minute strategies in place for the #BFCM weekend, your small or mid-sized retail business can boost sales, speed delivery and improve customer service so you have more time to eat, drink and be merry!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Brandon Levey holds a BSE and MSE in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan. While working on domestic nuclear security systems analyses at Sandia National Securities, he started two retail businesses on the side. Through his experiences in the design and manufacturing world, he identified many problems faced by small businesses, leading to the eventual launch of Stitch Labs.

Marketing Tactics

Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget

Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.

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As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.

First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.

For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.

Related: 5 Ways To Market Your Business On A Limited Budget

3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter

Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)

1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns

It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.

2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly

(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.

Related: 4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget

3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe

Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.

Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.

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Marketing Tactics

Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?

How do you market your company to this generation?

Stuart Scanlon

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According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.

They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.

So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?

1. By being transparent

Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.

Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs

Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.

Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.

2. By offering options

A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.

That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.

3. By being forward thinking

We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.

On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.

1. By being transparent

As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.

2. By offering options

Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.

Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.

Related: The Z Generation

3. By being forward thinking

They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.

The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.

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Marketing Tactics

Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.

Tracy Lee Nicol

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Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.

Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.

Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template

Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:

Download Our Free Marketing Plan Template Here.

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Recommended Marketing Reads: 


Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

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