Holiday Shopping Season Starts Now!

You know what that means for us – a really really busy month. Like most retailers it seems like we keep starting our holiday sales earlier and earlier each year. My inbox this week was full of early Black Friday promotions. I guess technically our early early holiday sale in October was the beginning, but the real holiday craziness starts today with our always-interesting 25%/20%/15% off 3-day sale:

Early Holiday Special at Detailed Image

The last time we ran this sale I was on vacation and the first day crashed the site. It was kind of a nightmare. That was in mid-2009 just after launching our new shopping cart software. We’ve come a long way since then. While I doubt that the site will crash (and if it does we’re doing some ridiculous volume), I am interested to see the distribution of sales throughout the 3 days. Last time the first day was HUGE – one of our top 5 busiest days ever – and the other two days, despite still being very big sales, were not much better than the average day. The psychology behind a time sensitive, decreasing-in-value sale is fascinating. It’s one of Mike’s favorite things to experiment with.

As I wrote about a few years ago, we start our holiday planning as summer is winding down. While last year was a success, when we entered our planning stage this year we noticed some opportunities that we missed last year. We’re putting every resource we have in to maximizing sales and new customer acquisition during this two-month stretch. It’s such a different phenomenon than the rest of the year. People spend more than they normally do (hence enticing sales work magnitudes better than they do normally), and when it comes to gifts our competition expands to every retailer and not just other auto detailing retailers. If someone is looking for a gift for dad, we’re all of a sudden competing with Home Depot and Best Buy and every other retailer out there, something we’re going to attempt to take advantage of this year.

Mike also did some really smart promotions in October to help increase conversions during the holiday shopping period. For instance, we ran a review contest that resulted in three times more reviews in October than we get in our average month. More quality product reviews on more products = higher conversion rates. And as you can see, we have A LOT of product reviews on our site.

Analyzing data, coming up with new opportunities, planning what we’re going to be doing differently, and the like is all fun, but what really matters is the execution. That starts today.

*We are also interviewing candidates for our open customer service position this week. To make the holidays even crazier, we’re hoping to have this person hired by the end of the year.

**As I went to publish this post I noticed that it’s my 500th since switching the blog over to WordPress. I wonder if I’ll hit 1k? I’ve slowed down a bit with my posting so it probably would take a LONG time.

4 comments on Holiday Shopping Season Starts Now!

  1. Scott Messner says:

    Congrats on 500. Don’t slow down too much. I enjoy your posts.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks for the kind words Scott! I really appreciate all of your comments, emails, feedback, etc over the years.

  2. How do make 25% off a profitable deal for the business? I realize most businesses have enough margin to at least cover 25% off, but I’ve always shyed away from such deals since they both reduce margins and in some ways diminish the value of the brand (or at least reduce people’s expectations of what they should pay for certain products.)

    This is actually one reason I would never do a Groupon type program.

    Do you offer such a high incentive just to drive sales and hope for follow up sales from new customers?

    Andrew

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Hi Andrew –

      Good questions. First off, yes we have the margins to do it and still be profitable. We only do it a few times a year. Given how limited we run the sale, I don’t think it diminishes brand value, but that’s certainly open for debate. The majority of the year the largest discount that is readily available is 10% on any given product.

      A large part of our success has come from our creative sales – daily special, weekly special, sales like this, etc. In a competitive industry, as is the case in any industry really, it’s one of the ways in which we’ve differentiated ourselves. The math ends up working in our favor. We increase our user base, including subscribers to our newsletters, and we’re able to “prove ourselves” to new customers with fast delivery, great customer service, and quality products. Specifically during the holiday shopping season where we’re competing for shopping dollars with the likes of Walmart and Best Buy we do everything we can to bring attention our way.

      Each company and each industry is certainly different. If I were starting another e-commerce company again I may or may not take this approach. It has it’s pros and cons for sure. For this business though, it’s worked out well for us.

      – Adam

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