September 7, 2010, 3:15 PM

Greeting the holiday season

What are you doing to prepare?

Holidays are huge.

That’s no secret to e-retailers. We at Internet Retailer also know the holiday season can make or break a retailer’s annual sales. As such (and as usual), we are planning extensive coverage of the tactics retailers are employing, and also stories with tips to help retailers make the most out of those few short and crucial months.

But I also know the time is now—(actually, the time probably began a few months ago) that retailers are drafting their game plans to tackle the season. So I’m curious—what are you doing to prepare? And what have you done in the past that has worked (and that has not worked).

Are you focusing on site performance this year, striving to ensure not one customer is lost because he got sick of waiting for a page to load? Are you ramping up social media spend, trying new ways to turn happy customers into brand advocates? Are you employing new search ad spending tactics? Running leaner on inventory or stocking up on hot items to ensure you have enough to go around? And, for bricks-and-mortar shops, how is your holiday preparation plan different for e-commerce as opposed to stores?

I’m sure there are some interesting and less obvious nuggets of wisdom you can share.  

Case in point: Experian Hitwise recently reported that gift card promotions in holiday e-mail marketing messages more than tripled conversion rates for multichannel retailers last year. Who knew shoppers were so wild for gift cards?

The same report also found e-mails containing free shipping offers with no minimum spending requirement had 70% higher conversion rates, triple the revenue per e-mail and more than double the average order value compared to free shipping offers with minimum spending requirements. I wonder if retailers knew there was that big a difference between the two versions of free shipping.

I’m certain our readers have uncovered other hidden gems. So please share: How are you greeting the Holidays? And what have you done in years past that helped make your holiday sales more jolly and less like a lump of coal?

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