Posted 05 December 2012

Could your online business benefit from a January sale?

Could your online business benefit from a January sale?

January sales are now starting earlier, with online and offline stores taking advantage of Boxing Day as a day when people are off work, at a loose end after the chaos of Christmas, and looking to spoil themselves with a bargain after a month of shopping for everyone else.

Not everyone likes shopping, so an increasing amount of people that have previously shunned the crowds and queuing in the cold are now ready to switch on their laptop at opening time, credit card at the ready. On Boxing Day 2011, visits to retail websites were up by 15 million visits from the previous year, and there is no reason to suspect that this won’t continue to rise.

A January sale is a great way to produce much needed revenue in the slump after Christmas, but without the face to face contact a bricks and mortar shop would have, how can you maximise the ROI of your online January sale? One way is to provide your customers with the option of human contact from the comfort of their own home. A study by Google recently stated that 63% of people prefer some form of human interaction before making a purchase, and if you are selling online there are two main ways you can give them this.

One way is by having a real time chat facility, effectively an online sales assistant. Whilst this may lack the personal touch, it can provide a website visitor with the information they need as well as a point of contact and for some companies this has proved effective. Research by Forcester into a US television, internet and call centre company showed that an online sales assistant initiative increased sales by over £1.4 million over three years. The only question to ask yourself is if, without an actual voice, your customers will consider this ‘human contact.’

Another way is by providing a telephone number. The Online Retail Payments Forecast stated that despite being happy to shop online, 22% of consumers never actually buy online. This could be because they have questions, or are not comfortable giving card details online. Either way, providing them with another way to complete a purchase can only benefit those customers as well as your business. Displaying a telephone number clearly also gives your website credibility and a more trustworthy appearance, with Etailer producing research that shows that 54% of website visitors are saying that the presence of a telephone number is ‘very important’ to them, even more important than ratings and reviews.

As with all marketing it is important to monitor these interactions and how they are influencing your bottom line. Monitoring the use of an online sales assistant can be carried out with website analytics, which will show you whether or not the website visit resulted in a sale after the online ‘chat’. It is also possible to monitor the effectiveness of providing a telephone number, using website analytics in combination with a call tracking service. A call tracking service provides each website visitor with a unique phone number so that you can view a visitor’s progress through your website before, during and after a call. This will identify what has driven them to call your business, as well as the amount of revenue generated from the online to offline conversion.

Marketing can be trial and error, and with careful monitoring you can test which tactics are producing the best response, the most sales and the highest amount of revenue. A January sale is a socially excepted norm, and is a way of unloading slow sellers and surplus stock without appearing needy or desperate in a quiet period, and with planning and on-going development you can optimise this year’s sale as well as improve your plan for next year.

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