Complex Made Simple

Top 5 tips on planning ahead for a profitable Christmas & New Year

By: Sprii CEO, Sarah Jones ( bio below)

The festive season is officially here. Of course, if you are a retailer, it’s been Christmas since July so this isn’t exactly news, rather a dawning realization that all of your careful planning now needs to be put into action.

Consumers are certainly primed to spend right now. We know from last year that there was a fairly broad mix in what people shopped for, including anything from small educational toys, to large trampolines and high-end home appliances, and this is likely to be the case again this season. The regional success of Black Friday showed an appetite for deals, with this shopping day acting almost like a precursor to holiday spending as a whole.

That said, it’s easy to fall into a predictable pattern each year, answering what you assume your consumers want with the same formulaic approach – and that’s a big mistake. That’s why our team have been watching the trends and spotting the key items mums will want this Christmas, like the large outdoor play sets, which have been creeping higher up the purchase list over the last month.

Consumer needs are changing, their habits are more intricate and trends are shifting, which means so should your retail marketing strategy; it needs to stand out. What’s imperative to us is always offering mums a truly personalized experience, which ensures we are top of mind for each and every shopping period.

Online shopping has such a big advantage over the traditional bricks and mortar offering at this time of year, and websites need to capitalize on this with specific USPs (more on this later). After all, would you want to visit a packed mall with your children at this time of year, or have your feet up at home, ordering everything to come directly to your door… no contest, right?

At Sprii, we’ve learned a lot over the years about how to prepare for the holiday season, what works and what doesn’t, so without further ado, here are our tips on how to get ahead this Christmas…

Read: Is the Middle East ready for omnichannel shopping?

5 Tips & Tricks For Sales Success

1. Plan Ahead And Use Data To Do It

It goes without saying you need a rock-solid strategy for the busiest shopping period of the year, but what’s perhaps less well utilized is a data-driven approach to inform your points of action – and this goes beyond just getting your assortment mix right.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to know what is popular, how your consumers are acting and respond accordingly, but it’s just as key to preempt trends by analyzing things in real time and keeping your teams informed so they can react quickly. For example, while most retailers will focus on toys as a whole for the festive period, we’re able to really drill down to specifics within each category and match that with consumer need and price point. For example, we anticipate a 60% rise in travel gear sales over the holiday period, with products like lightweight strollers and kids luggage reaching a peak as families go on vacation. It’s this kind of knowledge that allows us to provide such a tailored service – think of it as personal shopping for the online age.

Expert: Safe holiday shopping begins with awareness

2. Fire Up Your Shopping Squad

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’re only as good as the people around you. Your business needs to run like a well-oiled machine at this time of year, so encourage regular meetings and identify any departmental pitfalls in advance. There’s nothing more detrimental to your business than siloed teams – illustrating a real lack of understanding for how retail has changed. Every point of the retail experience feeds into one another. Not only are we no longer just responsible for our own role, but everyone needs at least a basic knowledge of other functions within the business as well. Trust me on this one, marketing liaising with customer service is essential when it comes to knowing consumer sentiment and how and when to speak to them.

3. Know Your Consumer Inside Out

I think we’ve established that no one wants to engage in seven hours of shopping at a mall this Christmas, and the same is true, to an extent, when it comes to online. On average, mums spend between 3-7 minutes adding items to their wishlist before making a purchase, so you really have to provide a strong offering. Hopping from site to site, trawling through an endless index of options is no one’s idea of a good time, especially when all you really want is something simple and easy to navigate. Sprii’s point of difference is that it really is a one-stop shop for consumer convenience. We’re not claiming to go toe-to-toe with the big players, where quantity often trumps quality, rather we’re about personalization at scale. This, teamed with seasonal trend information, such as holiday travel and previous bestseller data, means we’re in a unique position to offer our consumers something much more tailored. Consider our primary target – a mum. Yes, they need all the essentials, no argument here, but they also need hair straighteners, a pair of yoga pants or – if dealing with a newborn – a top of the range coffee machine! Your customer experience (CX) will come to define how you do business in future, so make sure you get this right during the most important shopping period of the year.

Read: Dubai Shopping Festival kicks off with exclusive 12-hour sale

4. Stay True To Your USP

Customers have become accustomed to your brand, its promises and pledges and a busy period shouldn’t dim the quality of your offering. Planning can only get you so far, as there are always some unforeseen circumstances that are ultimately out of your control, but that isn’t the consumer’s concern – they want to see you deliver, and so you should.

Consumer loyalty is fickle at best and it’s easy to get distracted with additional promotions and incentives when your focus should always be on your core offering. Don’t get caught up in what your competition is doing, if your USP is price matching, quick delivery, or best product selection then you have to find a way to get them what they want.

5. Look Beyond December

Because it’s just one month. I know how important this period is to the yearly retail calendar, but looking ahead is just as essential. Once Christmas is over, the January sales period will swiftly follow and it’s easy to predict that shoppers will spend in record numbers once again. Last year during this period we saw sales spike not just in December, but steadily from November to January. In a time where shoppers are very cost-conscious and eager to get the best price, we’re well placed to offer them incredible deals on the most sought-after products. We expect to see the same again this year, but the interesting question here is where they will spend the majority – online or offline? The momentum behind online shopping in the region cannot be ignored, with the market forecast set to reach $48.8 billion in sales by 2021, according to a recent Deloitte report. While next year will still be tough, there’s a sweet spot for retailers if they prepare accordingly. In the short-term, Sprii expects to see consumers finally treating themselves to that big ticket item, as well as buying their daily essentials, such as diapers, wipes and household products in bulk. Long-term, our approach remains the same in providing the best customer experience possible through exclusive brand and product rollouts, new app features and availability in even more markets. It’s a harsh truth, but sales periods are fleeting and businesses will need to double down on their offering and really hone in on what makes them stand out, otherwise that inevitable post-Christmas lull will become more of a full-time reality.

Read: Best times to book cheap Christmas flights from UAE

About the author

A true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer’. Sprii Chief Sarah Jones is living proof of this. Bitten by the bug at just 14, Sarah set up a profitable eBay business importing items from across the globe and selling in the UK, igniting a love for e-commerce and developing an acute business mind in the process.

Four years later, a degree in Economics at Edinburgh University beckoned, which not only heightened Sarah’s financial acumen, but also her highly competitive nature! Her placement at Deloitte London in the retail M&A team led to an international secondment in the Middle East just a few years later.

Which is where the Sprii story really begins, and to a point, where Sarah the CEO figure emerges. Described by her friends, as “a relentless enterprise of energy and ideas” she’s never lost the thirst for clinching a business deal first hand and is a self-confessed workaholic. Her phone is never off, her mind is always active and her passion to drive the business forward is unrivaled.

Spotting a gap in the e-commerce market on arrival in the Middle East, Sarah quickly secured funding to make her idea a reality and Sprii was born.