3 Practical Planning Tips to Avoid a Chaotic Christmas

By Jim Davidson | 30 Jul 2014

Regardless of whether you’re a retail business owner, decision maker or marketer, Christmas isn’t as far away as you think and getting your planning in order now may save your turkey come December, writes Jim Davidson.

‘Tis the season for commerce marketers to start to feel the pressure of the upcoming Christmas rush.

Consumers will soon work themselves into a tizzy trying to sift through an overloaded inbox to find the best deals. Shoppers will use smartphones to comparison shop in stores and will cart items to research when they are back home tapping away on their tablets.

Preparing for this onslaught of traffic and sales often seems like a daunting task for retailers and marketers alike.

While you can slice, dice and julienne data from the past Christmas seasons, there are so many variables, such as changing consumer expectations, integration of mobile devices and serious shifts from your competitors, that will inevitably make the season unpredictable.

Even getting started with your Christmas planning can seem daunting. There are, however, several ways that you can prepare for this peak shopping season. I will cover pitfalls for Christmas planning in more detail during my “Plan Now or Panic Later: Top Christmas Planning Mistakes to Avoid” webinar on July 31st at 10:30am.

For now, you can use these practical tips to help you and your team to get into the Christmas spirit and start the holiday planning conversations that will lead to a successful season.

  • Create an Emergency Contact List: Panic is the enemy of a Christmas emergency. Many last-minute decisions will need to be made and an extended team will likely be called upon to ensure plans are flawlessly executed. Build a contact list containing internal resources and partners. Detail the roles and responsibilities for this extended team and when they should be called. For example, if inventory is low on a featured item, who will update your site, email designs and customer service communications? What if the low inventory is noticed in the middle of the night? Do you know how to contact these resources outside of office hours? It’s best to develop this list now and set expectations with these resources to avoid breaking a make-or-break decision.
  • Visualise Your Mailing Cadence: You, like nearly every retailer, are probably planning to send more emails during the Christmas season. “Sending more” isn’t exactly a detailed plan of attack for the busiest time of year. Many marketers can benefit from mapping out a holiday communication plan that includes promotional messages, potential remailings and leaving blank days when there will be no deployments. This may seem really basic but many marketers will not chart their mailing cadence in this way. This process will help you to form your plan and identify periods when you may be sending too many messages or blackout periods when you could potentially remail a promotion.
  • Mastering the Mistake: We would all love to have a mistake-free Christmas.However, around 25 percent of retailers will send an apology email during the season. You may be caught off guard when a mailing is sent out with a typo or your site goes down, but you can be prepared to quickly send an email to your customers acknowledging the issue and providing a solution, alternative or timeline for the problem to be resolved. Build a bare-bones email template containing your typical branding, header and footer, but leave the primary section of the email as text that you can easily update to communicate what went wrong and how you are working to get things fixed.

While these tasks are not the most fun and festive Christmas planning projects, they will help you and your team to build a solid foundation for the end of the year madness.

Register Now: “Plan Now or Panic Later: Top Christmas Planning Mistakes to Avoid”
When: July 31st at 10:30am

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