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2014 set to be a bumper online Christmas

It is anticipated that UK online shoppers will spend £13 billion this Christmas - that’s around 18% more than last year[1], making 2014 a festive season full of opportunity for online sellers.

Christmas shopping starts early these days – there were reportedly over 2.7m searches including the keyword 'Christmas' on eBay alone in August 2013[2]. Nevertheless, there’s still time to make sure that you are doing everything you can to capitalise on the Christmas opportunity.

Here are four areas to focus on.
  1. Use Black Friday and Cyber Monday to bring purchases forward

  • 36.8 million items were ordered worldwide through Amazon on Cyber Monday 2013 – a staggering 426 items per second! ([3])  
  • In 2013, Amazon UK saw an increase in Black Friday sales of 63% ([4]), resulting in sales of over 4 million items on that day for the first time in the company’s history.  
  • eBay saw an increase of 84%.([5])

All signs are that Black Friday and Cyber Monday (Friday 28 November and Monday 1 December respectively) will be bigger than ever this year:  65% of retailers surveyed in the UK are planning to put on promotions on Black Friday; while 96% believe that there will be more traffic to their site on Cyber Monday this year, compared to last.([6])

To attract more buyers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (or the local equivalent) you must make sure that your promotions can be easily found - and that people know in good time what you are offering and when your promotion is taking place.
  1. Stand out from the crowd using Google Shopping and Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs)

In the US, internet users conduct around 12 billion searches on Google every month – often as the first step of an online buying experience.
So, how can you break through the ‘white noise’ to ensure shoppers go to your products rather than your competitors - particularly during Black Friday and Cyber Monday peaks?
One way is to become a master of the PLA.

Research has shown that PLAs are used extensively by Christmas shoppers to make purchase decisions. PLAs are Google’s image-centric ads. They rely on a high-quality image to engage shoppers and the inclusion of prices so shoppers are able to make direct price comparisons within the search results page. So it really is important to display your best price and include details of any promotions.

To make sure you are making the most of PLAs, see ChannelAdvisor’s ‘What Retailers Need to Know About Product Listing Ads’ – specifically their ‘10 Tips for PLA Success’:
  1. Communicate!

Don’t risk your potential customers shopping elsewhere because they don’t know what special events/discounts/terms you are offering. This is even more critical in the run-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If your email marketing plans have room for improvement, take a look at the 10 steps from to make sure you maximise your share of the available online spend this year.

Part 1:

Part 2:
  1. Make the most of your overseas profits by optimising your exchange rate

In Europe, 19.3% of online sales for the year will land during Christmas (that’s a 10% increase over last year. ([7]) The peak online shopping days across Europe are forecast to bring in $2.1 billion ([8]).
That’s very good news if you are selling online to customers outside the UK – and possibly using Amazon or other international marketplaces to do this. Not such good news however if you look at what can happen to your profits when you bring back the proceeds to the UK. Did you know that these marketplaces can charge up to 4% of your sales value for foreign exchange transactions? It’s certainly worth investigating an alternative.
E-tailer Collection Accounts provide you with an overseas foreign currency bank account, located in the markets in which you sell. This account collects all of your sales proceeds from online marketplaces in multiple currencies, ultimately helping you save up to 75% of foreign exchange costs when converting back to your home currency.
The example below compares the cost of repatriating the proceeds of marketplace sales with e-tailer Collection Accounts and a typical marketplace such as Amazon. Whilst ‘Sarah’ is fictitious, her business and sales volumes are typical of many Amazon sellers. Her decision to sell overseas via the online marketplaces is a sound business move as she can benefit from their international reach. However using those marketplaces to bring her money back home is not necessarily the best option, as Sarah found when she saw what a currency specialist could offer.

In this example, the financial impact of the alternative is quite clear.

What is not so immediately apparent in the example is that by opting to hold funds in an e-tailer Collection Account, Sarah has also introduced a level of financial control into her business: cash-flow permitting, she is now able to hold funds in the e-tailer Collection Account in the source currency until the market reaches a preferred exchange rate. So Sarah has the opportunity to take advantage of exchange rates when they are in her favour rather than having to convert on a fixed periodic basis, as and when the marketplace converts and sends the funds back to the UK.

For a free trial or to find out more about how e-tailer Collection Accounts can enhance your Christmas profits, contact the dedicated online retailer team on +44 207 847 9269, email [email protected] or visit

[1] Sage Pay Data, August 2014
[2] 26 July 2014
[3] Amazon figures, 26 Dec 2013
[6] Barclays’ Christmas Countdown Survey 2014
[7] Adobe Digital Index (ADI) “2014 Holiday Shopping Predictions” report, November 2014
[8] Adobe Digital Index (ADI) “2014 Holiday Shopping Predictions” report, November 2014

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