Every year, retailers gear up for the frenzied weekend of business that begins sometime after Thanksgiving dinner and ends around Monday at midnight. After it's all said and done, people still have presents to buy, and many of them are turning to online shopping for their needs. So don't panic if your business didn't see the sales you expected during the Black Friday weekend. There's still plenty of time for your customers to shop online.
According to The National Retail Federation forecasts, online shopping is set to outpace retail shopping over the next few years. With more households gaining access to high speed Internet, and people looking for more flexible ways to research and purchase products, it's not surprising that many are finding the best deals using their computers rather than brick-and-mortar outlets.
Online shopping doesn't just provide flexibility for customers, though. It's also a great way for retailers to boost lagging sales any time, especially in the run-up to Christmas and in the new year. Consumers aren't necessarily as loyal to Black Friday or Cyber Monday as they have been in years past. As long as you provide great deals and strong marketing to help shoppers find them, the sales will come.
In order to spur your customers on to buy during your online sales, use multiple techniques to make the opportunity appealing. Give them a sense of urgency by limiting the time period in which the sale takes place, but be careful not to make it too brief. Consider adding a "surprise" extension of the initial expiration date to catch those shoppers who dithered over buying and regretted not taking advantage of the sale. Also, be sure to inform your customers about the opportunity with plenty of advance notice to build up the anticipation. A few well-timed emails can help excite those who are already looking to do some online shopping.
Retailers who worry about a lull in business after the holidays can boost sales by offering incentives to shop online in the new year. Special discounts and free shipping are often all it takes to get consumers to open their wallets again, as long as they perceive that they are getting the prices they want. Take the time to assess your competitor's prices when setting your own. Online shopping makes it easy for consumers to compare those prices instantly, so plan ahead to gain the edge on your competition.
Online shopping may never replace the thrill of scrambling for that last big bargain at a retail store, but is that really a bad thing? It can improve the sales experience for both customers and retailers if the prices are right and your online presence is strong enough to bring your customers to your Web site. Online sales and promotions are not just for the holidays, they also keep your inventory moving all year long.
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