Preparing for peak: how to guarantee a very merry marketing Christmas

Posted: Tuesday 9th September 2014 in Paid Media, Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.
Christmas gifts

Christmas peak is of paramount importance in the retail calendar

With just over 100 days to Christmas, many agencies will only just be starting to plan for peak for their retail clients. Although the core planning is front and centre right now, we never forget about Christmas in Summit and are always trying to focus on maximising sales in a period which can deliver between 30%  and 50% of a retailer’s annual sales revenue.

This includes three key areas:

1. Maximising marketing performance

Throughout the year we advise our clients of the potential impact the festive period will have on sales and other key metrics. The consumer journey has been a key discussion point in 2014; site performance (and speed in particular) and mobile optimisation are of paramount importance.

Each year we set up a task force focused on peak, including representatives from all areas of the business, who then assess the challenges and opportunities presented by the peak period. We work collaboratively with our suppliers and partners to gain consumer insights for the marketing products and services they offer; we add this to our own insight and recommendations in order to create an information pack which our client teams can tailor to each retailer we work with.


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2. Technology capability

The volume of traffic to a retail site can double during the peak period, and failure to prepare the automated elements of marketing processes for the rapid increase in activity can spell disaster. Our performance marketing tool, Forecaster, works with our other proprietary technology in order to make bid adjustments, distribute budgets, amend ad creatives and make other automated changes across millions of keywords for our clients. This technology uses real time insight combined with seasonality, consumer buying behaviour, industry trends, weather and other variables in order to make the above changes.

In order to prepare for the busy festive period we look at the peak performance from the previous year and use this to drive the forecasting for the full year – this is typically carried out in the first quarter of the year (dependent on the client’s fiscal year). We use this data to plan in advance our required infrastructure for our tracking and search management technology. We revalidate the forecast based on the YOY trading performance so that we can make any final changes to the infrastructure. We then closely monitor each day to ensure our tracking, reporting and campaign management remains 100% reliable.

3. Operational support

We want to make sure both our clients and colleagues enjoy the festive period. To make this happen we have worked collaboratively with our clients and employees to understand the staffing requirements across the bank holidays and core working days between Christmas and New Year. This ensures that we can maintain consistency in our work whilst giving our staff the break that they deserve. Our provisional plan is now in place, which includes 24/7 support for all of our eCommerce clients and maintenance of our proprietary technology.

At Summit we recognise the speed at which the retail calendar moves and the importance of not getting left behind, and we are well underway with our preparations for Christmas 2014. Although this is our primary focal point we will also be looking forward to peak 2015 and beyond, and using our learnings from the coming weeks to inform our planning and preparation for next year.


If you have any questions about Christmas peak, or want to know how Summit can help you make more money online, please contact Dave Trolle on 01482 876876.

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