Arguably, the most important thing bike retailers need to understand about Christmas is that it's not one selling season to plan for, but three. You need sales, marketing/communications, and purchasing plans to hit all three successfully, otherwise you're going to miss your potential Christmas period sales by quite a long way. To keep in the spirit of Christmas, I've named the plans / campaigns after three of your favorite reindeer.
Campaign 1 - September/October/November
Target: The 'Rudolphs' - Organized, Early Shoppers Who Lead The Way
The fact is 64% of consumers start their Christmas shopping during or before November and indeed, one in four start back in September. So, if you're not already talking to these people by the time you read this article, you might already have missed them.
'Rudolphs' are statistically dominated by women and 'older' shoppers. So, you should tailor your EDM messaging, landing pages, product promos, and in-store displays towards women and older customers during the Sep/Oct/Nov period, as they will be the dominant purchasers through this time. They're typically buying for partners, children, and Kris Kringle, so that means focusing more on soft goods, gadgets and kids bikes. But also note, they are expecting and looking for 'value' propositions (bundles, deals, etc.) or discounted specials as reward for their early shopping.
Campaign 2 - December (pretty much the last 2 weeks)
Target: The 'Dashers' - Desperate, Last Minute List Tickers
Your second campaign needs to kick off in the first week or early in the second week of December and it will focus on the desperate 'Dashers.' Statistically, this period is somewhat predictably dominated by men and younger shoppers. So, switch your messaging, imagery, and gift profiles towards them during the December dash.
'Dashers' are generally disorganised, impulsive, and more open to suggestion, so be sure to take advantage of this. As opposed to the 'Rudolphs', who've already largely completed their Christmas purchases, 'Dashers' are more focused on ticking names off lists than seeking a bargain, so you shouldn't waste giving discounts on these shoppers. What you need to focus on is proposing 'solutions' style products. Remember that men tend to think more practically than emotionally when it comes to gifts, so expect greatest success with: accessories, electronics, bike shorts and helmets; mostly in the $20-100 range.
Campaign 3 - Boxing Day Through January/Early February
Target: The ‘Prancers’ - The Post-Christmas Big Ticket Spenders
I've long said that the real 'bicycle retail Christmas' actually starts the day after Christmas. You've fulfilled your Christmas obligations, the stress has passed, and you're still in holiday mode. So, what do you do? You spend money on yourself! You get yourself the presents you'd wished you'd really gotten and it's relatively guilt free shopping. The 'Prancers' are essentially the cycling enthusiasts who can happily justify spending thousands of dollars on bikes and bike gear.
Hence why the immediate post-Christmas period is the big-ticket sales blitz you simply must be taking full advantage of - to the extent that the pre-Christmas lead-up should partially be used as a long-lead marketing push for post-Christmas bike purchases and premium upgrades.
You should set your social media, EDMs and website changes to kick off pretty much the moment the shops close on Christmas Eve. You and some of your staff may need to pop down to the store after Christmas lunch to tear down the Christmas decorations and re-set the displays to focus on all the premium components and high-end 'toys' in your store. Take the kids bikes out of the window display and replace them with your most eye-catching carbon lightweight, the meanest looking big-hit machine, or your fastest looking deep-dish carbon wheels. This is when we spoil ourselves with big kids toys.
But, you must plan ahead for this. Too many bike retailers seem to forget every year that the wholesalers and couriers are typically closed over the Christmas period; often until well after New Year's Day. And once they do re-open, there is invariably a backlog of orders to be cleared, which can see delays pushing post-Christmas orders well into the second week of January, by which time you might be too late to take advantage of the high spending 'Prancers.' So, you need to make sure you've got the big-ticket stock in place well before the Christmas shut down.
As with any sales and marketing campaign period, you really need to get your EDM and social media content, product imagery, and visual merchandising organized well before you utilize it. Do not leave it until the last minute. And I highly recommend you consider investing in some professional help for at least the Christmas period, or at the very least, some EDM and social media content tools, as it's just so critical to your annual turnover and overall profitability.