This may only be the beginning of August, but if you’re planning on selling this coming holiday season, you’re going to have to get your ducks in a row long before US Thanksgiving, or at least that’s the plan for personalized gifts e-tailer Identity Direct and many others who wanted to be in a better position than last year to cash in on this year’s e-commerce holiday rush.
According to e-Consultancy, an e-commerce research group, 2011 was the second year in a row that delivered more than $1 billion USD in e-commerce sales on the Monday after the US Thanksgiving holiday, and this year projections suggest that 2012 may be the year we break over $1.5 billion USD in e-tail sales on Cyber Monday.
This means that your e-commerce go-to-market plan, your social media marketing plan, your site design and usability, and the e-commerce infrastructure that supports it all have to be ready for the volume of customers that will be shopping online this coming holiday season. And that’s a tall order for most companies that tend to make major e-commerce updates to their websites once every three to five years or so.
Now with the extreme growth of mobile technology, e-commerce is growing technologically to include whole new markets that they previously did not have to consider. Imagine going to your local store, seeing a massive line and deciding you would pull out your tablet and place your order through your mobile device, walk to customer service and pick up your already-paid-for gifts. You can see everything you want to buy in person, but shop without having to cart anything around. There are even apps out there that will create a list for you based on scanning the bar code of the product, then will find the lowest price for that product in your neighborhood and let you know whether or not it is likely that store has it in stock.
So now that retailers and marketers need to keep in mind the dynamics of selling to brick and mortar customers, web-channel consumers, and mobile consumers, the technology solutions needed to engage, acquire, and fulfill consumer demands this holiday season need to be set in place and thoroughly tested before customer and digital environment run into each other head-on in the holiday madness, or e-tailers may face serious backlash from shoppers for any problems they perceive or encounter.
And part of that starts right now with the integrated social and traditional media marketing campaigns that are being built to distribute as early as Labor Day for some online businesses eager to make sure customers remember them when the holiday buying season comes around. How a brand positions itself in September has a lot to do with how well it does in the all-important sales figures of late November.
And that message is not being lost on big companies selling in the business-to-business marketplace either. A number of major software companies saw far lower sales in Q1 and Q2 than they had projected last year, and now are trying to drive home as much new business in Q3 and Q4 as possible, which means they desperately need to polish their brands in both social and traditional media to cast as wide a net as possible, else seriously look at the possibility of barely meeting or failing to meet quota for multiple quarters this year, perhaps even for the year as a whole.
For smaller businesses that may not sound as bad as what they face, but considering that could represent several billion dollars in lost revenues for the largest companies in the world, it means they don’t have it to spend either on new hires, company growth, or new contracts with smaller supply firms, and that hurts small business badly as well.
What it all boils down to is this – it doesn’t matter what the size of your company is, what matters is how you plan to take on the next 4 months of marketing, selling and fulfilling, and that includes making and implementing a serious plan to address your social media marketing needs every bit as much as revisiting your e-commerce go-to-market strategy in order to capture your share of the biggest one day of sales in the e-commerce world.
Tags: Chris Cayer, Cyber Monday, E-Commerce strategy, large enterprise, Reyactive, small business, Social Engagement Strategy