Grab your day planner, whip out your phone, or clear your whiteboard… it’s time to write down some important dates on your calendar! No, I’m not talking about the next meet-up, conference, or trade show, I’m talking about important dates for the remainder of the year that every eCommerce store owner should be aware of.
Here we go:
- Wednesday, November 27, 2019 – Breathe deep! Take tomorrow off for rest and family time, because things are about to get real.
- Thursday, November 28, 2019 – Thanksgiving. The family holiday that typically ushers in the biggest season for us eCommerce merchants. Before zonking out after all the turkey, be sure to schedule your email blast for your Black Friday sale if you’re going to be holding one – and you should!
- Friday, November 29, 2019 – Black Friday. While this day is typically reserved as a big shopping day for bricks-and-mortar merchants, it’s also one for online merchants as well. While you may want to save your best deals for Cyber Monday, shoppers are going to be looking for Black Friday deals from you as well, so put some out there along with a few teasers of what’s to come on Monday too.
- Saturday, November 30, 2019 – Small Business Saturday. This is more of a bricks-and-mortar day manufactured by American Express to encourage people to visit local retailers and support the community. While it’s not really a big event for online merchants, those with a retail storefront should take advantage of the promotion. If you accept American Express cards, they have promotional material you can request to show your location is a participating merchant.
- Monday, December 2, 2019 – Cyber Monday. It’s the day shoppers have waited for all year! The biggest online sales day of the year has arrived and this year it should be bigger than ever. Save your best deals for this day and sit back and watch the orders roll in. In the days leading up to Cyber Monday, be sure to schedule email blasts teasing some of the terrific deals you’re going to be offering. Then, schedule multiple emails throughout the day reminding your customers of specials and offers as well as “time is running out” to take advantage of them. Just remember one thing – you’re going to get a lot of orders on this day, make sure you’re staffed appropriately to get as many of those out in time as possible – don’t risk negative reviews and customer dissatisfaction by not being prepared.
- Monday, December 9, 2019 – Green Monday. This is what is considered the biggest sales day in December. Why? Because last minute shoppers like me realized that I didn’t even think about shopping for gifts yet and I better get moving! Consider offering a few specials – especially deals that offer free shipping or discounted express shipping so you’re easing their fears about orders not arriving in time for the holiday. If you have excess inventory that didn’t move, this would be a great time to try to blow that stock out at a discount.
- December 22 – 30, 2019 – Hanukkah
- Tuesday, December 24, 2019 – Christmas Eve
- Wednesday, December 25, 2019 – Christmas Day
- Tuesday, December 31, 2019 – New Year’s Eve
- Wednesday, January 1, 2020 – New Year’s Day
One thing that every store owner should do is to alert their customers to shipping cut-off dates. Nobody wants to place an order, not be told it won’t arrive in time for Christmas and have to deal with a return or complaint.
If you drop-ship items, confirm what cut-off dates with your vendors are and mark those items appropriately.
If most of your items ship within 24 hours, create a graphic, similar to the one below, and place it on a page on your site letting customers know of the cut-off dates based on the various shipping methods.
Finally, let’s talk about returns. They’re going to happen, so make sure you’re communicating your policy on your website.
Be clear about what items can and can’t be returned and what, if any, restrictions apply (such as must be unworn, must be unopened, must be made in X number of days, etc). Most of all, don’t make your customers jump through hoops to return something. Amazon has changed the way merchants handle returns, so you need to adapt but not be unreasonable. Your return policy should be simple, straightforward and easy to follow.
Have more tips to share with fellow eCommerce store owners, post them in the comments.
Scott Sanfilippo began his eCommerce journey in 1994 by co-founding one of the Internet’s first online retailers, TheFerretStore.com, which was acquired by PetCo in 2006. In 2001, he co-founded the eCommerce design and marketing firm Solid Cactus, which was acquired by web.com in 2009. Today, Scott is the General Manager of Your Store Wizards and lives in Delray Beach, FL. Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.