The decorations have come down and the presents have all been unwrapped. When December draws to a close, so does the busiest time of year for ecommerce retailers. After the holiday rush, many merchants coast through January, treating it as a time to recuperate.
That’s exactly why the start of the new year is the perfect time for you to ramp up your sales efforts! Do take advantage of the time to refresh your store, but don’t disappear from the minds of your prospects and customers. While other online stores rest, you can stand out with creative campaigns and enticing offers to draw in new business.
As the new year unfolds, seize the opportunity to make a few store improvements and get a jump on sales—all while your competition is still hibernating. 😉 Take care of a bit of housekeeping, but don’t let it delay your sales efforts. Give your store a quick refresh by reflecting on last year and strategizing for the year ahead. Then, start bringing in sales to start the year off right! Here are our best tips for all of the above.
#1. Reflect on last year and strategize for the months ahead ✍️
First things first: Take stock of last year’s strategies and their results so you know which to continue and which to scrap. Study your sales and marketing metrics, as well as your brand’s reviews, customer feedback, and data from your support team for areas of improvement.
As you start planning your new-year strategy, pay attention to predictions and trends for the next twelve months too. For this year, two key elements to incorporate into your sales and marketing are:
- Personalization. 80% of customers are more likely to buy from brands that offer personalized experiences. In fact, personalization was the marketing word of the year in 2020, according to the Association of National Advertisers. Focus on ways to help individual customers find the right product for them more easily, and cater to the buyer’s journey as closely as possible.
- Automation. It’s the key to taking your store to the next level of growth. Put your personalization efforts on autopilot to scale your business in the new year.
If you don’t have one already, consider a Messenger chatbot to inject your ecommerce business with both of these elements. Bots can greet users by name, incorporate personalized details from previous chats, and provide customized product recommendations—automatically and at scale.
#2. Revamp your store website 💻
Do a little housekeeping. Look at your store website with a critical eye. Better yet: Have an impartial third party do that for you. Use a heat-map tool to see where people are clicking or getting stuck. Survey past customers about the ease of their shopping experience.
Research shows that a consumer’s first impression of a website is 94% related to design elements, so the immediate look and feel of your store is crucial. Functionality and navigation are next in line. So examine your site closely and consider updating the:
- Product organization. Is your site easy to navigate? Are items organized intuitively? If a certain product type hasn’t been selling well, think about renaming its category, or adding it to multiple relevant categories. Consider adding upsells and cross-sells to sales pages to help shoppers find other items they might like or need.
- Product photos and descriptions. Are your product photos all clean, bright, and consistent? Do you have multiple photos of each item at various angles? Can shoppers zoom in to see details?
- FAQs. Talk to your support team. Make sure the most common prospect/customer questions they receive are covered on your FAQ page (or in your chatbot’s FAQs). Returns and exchanges will be popular topics at this time of year, so make a point to include all relevant information about those too.
#3. Move old inventory 📦
Clearing out old inventory by putting it on clearance has two key benefits. First, you’ll make room in your budget for the new products you plan to sell this year. Second, you’ll get a sales boost in an otherwise slow month. (It’s a fact: No matter the time of year, most shoppers can’t resist a fantastic deal!)
To move old, out-of-season products, or those that aren’t selling well, you can also try:
- Flash sales. Run a sale on a specific product line or category, and advertise it to your audience beforehand to create excitement and urgency.
- Bundling. Bundle a product that sells well with one you’re trying to get rid of.
- Freebies. Use old stock as freebies in a giveaway, or as a complimentary gift when shoppers spend a certain amount. Or, offer lower-cost items you’re having trouble selling in return for people signing up for your email list. That way, you can move that stock while gaining new prospects to sell to later on.
Try some of these methods in January, a month that doesn't have any major shopping holidays. Then, once February comes around, take advantage of President’s Day and Valentine’s Day to push newer items and get sales back on track.
#4. Take advantage of the new-year mindset 🏋🏿
Going into 2018, 53% of Americans surveyed said that their new year’s resolution was to save money. But it’s also important to note that two out of three consumers have "made a purchase they weren't originally planning to make solely based on finding a coupon or discount.”
Most people won’t stop shopping because of financial resolutions; they’ll just be on the lookout for better deals from you. (Plus, remember that some shoppers will be armed with gift cards or money from holiday gifts they returned!)
The next most popular resolution at 45% of respondents was to exercise more or lose weight. Traveling more, adopting new hobbies, and reading more are all on the list as well. It’s the time of year when people are most focused on self-improvement. Promoting your products that can help with this, or promoting any products with this kind of slant can help you capture prospect interest. If you're running ads, get the most out of your campaign using ad trackers to help you reach targeted customers as precisely as possible.
#5. Retarget customers and contacts gathered during the holiday season 🎯
In 2018, Salesforce estimated that Black Friday and Cyber Monday would account for 40% of retail sales for that entire year. That means you probably have a sizable list of customers from the holiday shopping season who you can retarget for repeat business in the new year.
To do this, you can send chatbot messages and/or emails with information about:
- Complementary products. Entice past customers to buy from you again with relevant suggestions based on their purchase history. You could let those who bought yoga apparel from you know that you’re now having a sale on yoga mats, for example.
- Loyalty bonuses and rewards. Show past customers you value them, and get them to shop at your store again. Share a discount code to show your appreciation. Or, send them information about how they can benefit from your loyalty program.
- Referral or affiliate programs. Share details about your referral bonuses with past customers. It’ll prompt them to spread the word about your brand, and may get them to buy from you again too.
- Wish-lists or left-behind items. If your store has a wish-list option, January is a good time to reach out about items there. If users didn’t get what they were hoping for as holiday gifts, you can give them 15% off items on their wish list or in their abandoned cart. That way, they can find what they really want. (And while you’re at it, make sure you’re set up to recover maximum abandoned-cart revenue with a chatbot year-round!)
You can benefit from running retargeting ads at this time of year, too. Visitors who see retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert on your site. And finally, if you have an active chatbot that gained users during the holidays, you can export their data in one click to create Lookalike audiences for your Facebook ads to attract new business, too.
Cheers to your store’s success in 2021 🥂
Don’t let talk of “slow January” in the ecommerce world get you down. Use the time to tidy up and breathe new life into your store—and now you know how you can continue to make sales while you’re at it!
If building a chatbot is one of your brand goals for the new year, get started for free today—no code or previous experience required. You can learn how to build your first bot in just three minutes. Then, when you're ready for more users, priority support, and other perks, upgrade to Pro.