As Brits prepare for the Christmas festivities, presents and decorations are not the only things on shoppers’ minds. In fact, according to new research, the average woman will spend £91.50 on Christmas partywear – more than two times the average cost of an outfit for a regular night out. Whether it’s with a fun jumper, a glamourous dress or some sparkly accessories, shoppers want to make sure they stand out this Christmas.
And although shoppers have been thinking about Christmas since as early as October, last year it was the start of November which signalled a significant rise in interest, with searches for “Christmas” on eBay.co.uk rising 55 per cent during the first weekend of the month. According to our Christmas Tracker, searches in the Clothes, Shoes & Accessories category peaked during the first week of November. From fragrances to jewellery, from party dresses to Christmas jumpers, this is the time of year that shoppers are looking for inspiration on what to wear and what to gift during the festive season.
Christmas is inevitably a busy and important time for fashion retailers, and as more shoppers are purchasing online, catering to their changing needs and expectations is critical; today’s consumers value choice, speed and convenience. Sellers need to help customers to find what they want quickly and easily, and deliver their purchases in a timely, flexible way. Here are my top tips to help fashion retailers succeed this Christmas.
Plan ahead and manage inventory accordingly
Throughout peak season, we see a number of dates and events spark surges in consumer interest – from Black Friday to Christmas Jumper Day and Panic Saturday. Ensure you’re planning appropriately for these moments when consumer excitement is likely to spike, bolstering your stock to cope with the increased demand.
Unsurprisingly, dresses and boots were among the top searches made by female shoppers on the site last December, as ladies looked for the perfect winter party outfit – Brits made more than 300,000 searches on ebay.co.uk for dresses during the month. But “Christmas jumpers” were the most commonly searched item in the Clothes, Shoes & Accessories category on eBay last December – racking up 450,000 searches.
Having sufficient stock of the right items, by the right brands, and having it ready in place to cope with elevated demand could be make or break for sellers this peak season.
Think about great listings
The competition is fierce in the world of online retail as shoppers are faced with a growing choice of platforms, brands and goods. For sellers it’s crucial to make sure your products stand out from the crowd. Think about how to make your listings more attractive to consumers – from using high quality photography to providing detailed descriptions.
The listing description also affects how easily shoppers can find your inventory. By including keywords related to peak season, as well as ones relevant to your product, your inventory will be more likely to show up in searches in the run up to Christmas. For instance, if you think a dress would be ideal for a festive party, make sure your listing highlights this – the more relevant keywords you provide, the more visibility you’ll get for your products.
Factor in delivery and returns
Shoppers have come to expect convenient, timely deliveries throughout the year, but at Christmas it’s even more important. Make sure you have the infrastructure in place for the uplift in deliveries well in advance, and clearly communicate your order cut-off dates, factoring in the deadlines for Christmas postage, both domestic and international.
Hand-in-hand with any good delivery service should be a convenient returns process. As more shoppers favour online purchasing, so the trend for returns has boomed. Offer shoppers a generous returns policy and ensure it’s clear and easy for them to understand and use. With an increasing number of shoppers looking at a seller’s returns policy before placing their order, having a failsafe process in place is going to be worth its weight in gold, influencing sales this peak season and beyond.
There is a reason that some call this the ‘season of excess’, and this year, according to a recent survey, the average UK shopper is expected to spend £446 on Christmas-related shopping. During this hyper-busy period, retailers need to keep their eyes on the prize to navigate the intense competition and seize the sheer breadth of opportunity. By carefully planning ahead for peak moments, optimising your listings and making sure your returns package is convenient and well communicated, you can cut through the noise and get your slice of the (Christmas) cake.
Lorna Dunne is Head of Fashion Business Development at eBay.