Make Your Ecommerce Business Ready for Christmas 2020

2020 has been a year of unprecedented growth for online retail, an unexpected side effect of Covid-19 and enforced stay-at-home behaviours, in New Zealand and around the world.

But what can we expect in the final quarter of the year?

How can online businesses, both new and well-established, leverage ecommerce for optimum revenue and profitability?

The short answer is: do your homework, understand what works (and what doesn’t) in ecommerce today, and ensure that you’ve take every step that you possibly can to achieve online success.

To help you, we’ve created a special coaching program (designed specifically for New Zealand ecommerce businesses in 2020) that will help you to set appropriate goals for the Christmas selling season — and then execute those goals with flair and excellence.

In putting this program together, we have drawn upon our more than four decades of providing advice and guidance to New Zealand businesses (about both ecommerce and marketing) and more than three decades of selling and marketing online (see “About Your Coach” below).

The program is a mix of one-to-one discussions and advice (via Zoom or telephone), combined with small group coaching sessions. Some group coaching sessions are live, but will be recorded for you to access later, in accordance with your own timetables.

This is a major new coaching initiative, to help businesses like yours grow.

Because this coaching program includes so much one-to-one interaction, we can only take a small handful of clients, so if you’re interested we encourage you to sign up now.

NZ Online Coaching Program: Make Your Ecommerce Business Ready for Christmas 2020

Here’s what we explore in this new Coaching Program:

Session #1: Audit

Before you start the coaching program, you will be required to fill out a questionnaire to help us determine exactly where you are currently at and how best we can help.

Questions covered include:

  • What exactly does your online business do?
  • What’s unique about your business?
  • What products do you sell?
  • What’s unique about your products?
  • What offers do you currently make to prospective customers?
  • Do you create and/or manufacture your own products or do you source them from elsewhere?
  • What new products or services do you currently have in the pipeline?
  • What are the key challenges you are facing?
  • Who is/are your target market/s?
  • How do you sell your products online?
  • How do you handle packaging and shipping of your products?
  • Do you remarket to prospects who abandon their shopping carts?
  • How do you manage returns?
  • What technologies are vital to your business?
  • What acquisition strategies do you currently have in place for getting new leads and converting them into customers?
  • How do you currently market your products/services?
  • How do you follow-up with existing customers?
  • What metrics do you track as a matter of course?

Once you’ve filled in and returned your questionnaire, then, at a mutually agreeable time, we will connect with you via telephone or Zoom to discuss your current strengths and weaknesses and what you need to do to make the most of this coaching program.

Session Goal: Our aim as a result of Session #1 is to ensure that you start to accelerate your online business success as you proceed through what remains of 2020.

Session #2: Get Ready for the Peak Christmas Selling Season

Right now, New Zealand is, to steal shamelessly from Charles Dickens, a tale of two economies.

On the one hand, whole sectors of the economy — travel & tourism, hospitality, retail, education — have been decimated by border closures and lockdowns. Thousands of people have already lost their jobs, or are about to do so now that wage subsidies have ended.

On the other hand, even under worst-case economic predictions, the vast majority of Kiwis are still employed and have money to spend. They can’t currently travel offshore so many more than usual are willing to support local businesses by travelling domestically and by shopping, both instore and online.

Here’s why you can expect to multiple your efforts through online shopping  in 2020:

  • According to research by NZ Post, 170,000 adult New Zealanders shopped online for the first time during the first six months of 2020
  • NZ Post has indicated that online shopping more than doubled when New Zealand moved into Alert Level 3 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • NZ online shopping remains about 30% up on 2019, with early indications signalling that COVID-19 has forever changed the way Kiwis shop
  • Domestic online sales have been making up 71% of all online shopping

That rapid adoption of ecommerce was, of course, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing Kiwi lockdown. But will the migration to online shopping endure when things return to the “new normal”?

Some traditional retailers have seen the writing on the wall and are moving completely online. Here’s a current example, just spotted in the local mall, for T&T Childrenswear:

Local and international retail gurus are all predicting that, now that so many more consumers have been exposed to the joys of online shopping, they are likely to continue doing so.

A US study by Forrester Research (The State Of The US Shopper — COVID-19), released in July 2020, found significant expectations that online shopping would continue post-stay-at-home:

Some of the reasons cited for this change in behaviour (that also have relevance in New Zealand):

Consumers Are Cautious About Returning To Retail Locations
As retail locations begin to reopen, consumers are concerned about them reopening too quickly. Their fears around contracting and spreading the virus have caused a change to in-store behaviours. That probably wasn’t the case in NZ initially, when we gleefully assumed that the coronavirus was permanently eliminated, but now that we’ve been through further Alert Levels we’re likely to be more cautious for some time to come.

Consumers Are Buying More Online And Experimenting With Click and Collect services
To keep up with increased eCommerce demand, retailers are adding additional BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) and omnichannel fulfillment. Shoppers have mixed feelings on Click and Collect services but consider it an acceptable compromise in New Zealand.

When The Pandemic Subsides, Some New Shopping Behaviors Are Likely To Stick
The pandemic has had a huge impact on consumers’ existing shopping habits, which may accelerate the changes they make over time. As the pandemic progresses, new habits may stick (most likely those that made their lives easier or better).

And it’s never been easier for businesses like yours to sell directly to consumers. You don’t have to hustle for shelf space in supermarkets or retail stores — just set up a professional online store, attract visitors through marketing and promotion and be ready to reap the results.

And the best time to do all that is in the leadup to Christmas 2020.

We’ve already seen a surge in spending post-lockdown, but the peak shopping season (October-December) still lies ahead.

For many years, the last quarter of the year has accounted for the largest share of consumer expenditure. This year, despite the coronavirus, we expect to see the same pattern, with expenditure increasing in October, then again in November, peaking in December.

We have seen similar seasonal sales trends in online retail as well — except that in the last few years online sales have peaked in November rather than December, driven by (a) November shopping events such as Singles Day and Black Friday; and (b) the need to shop early, especially from overseas websites such as, in order to meet Christmas shipping deadlines.

This year, however, so far 2020 has turned out to be something of a rollercoaster, with dramatically untypical online shopping peaks in April, May and August, thanks to lockdowns.

Source: Marketview September 2020

Even so, you should still plan on high volumes of online shopping in November and December. And you should expect consumers with friends and family overseas to be shopping earlier than ever – international freight schedules are in disarray as a result of the pandemic so those who want their gifts to arrive in time for Christmas need to buy much sooner than usual.

So how can you focus your efforts successfully on Ecommerce during the Christmas Selling Season?

Firstly, by leveraging all the promotional opportunities you’ll have before the end of 2020.

We’ll provide you with a calendar of key dates from October to December, including:

    10.10 Shopping Festival (USA)
    Amazon Prime Day
    NZ Election
    Labour Weekend
    Click Frenzy (Australia)
    Singles Day (China)
    Black Friday

And we’ll share strategies to maximise each of those promotional opportunities.

Next, we’ll explore some of the marketplaces that you might be able to use to promote your products, including:

  • and
  • Trade Me and eBay
  • TheMarket
  • PriceSpy
  • PriceWise
  • Neighbourly
  • Google Shopping
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Facebook Shop
  • Instagram Shopping
  • Pinterest
  • Etsy and other niche sites
  • Daily Deal sites (handle with care)

We’ll talk about the seven most important steps you must take when listing your products on online marketplaces and discuss why Daily Deal sites can destroy your business if you don’t take appropriate precautions.

And we’ll explore the Offers you might make to improve your sales (and increase basket size) in the current climate.

Session Goal: Our objective is to ensure that you’re ready to take advantage of every opportunity to sell your products online.


Session #3: Your Buyers

Google talks about a process, the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), which reflects the processes that today’s consumers go through as they research and buy products. In this session we talk about prospective buyers, discuss what makes them buy (or not), review how and why they’ve changed in the last few years, discuss ZMOT and its implications for Kiwi sellers; and explore buyer motivations (and how you can trigger the urge to buy).

This session also covers:

  • The 10 most important factors that consumers look for when deciding whether or not to buy from you (and how you can improve each aspect)
  • The seven aspects of online shopping that shoppers most want to see improved
  • The five most attractive offers that you can make, to close a sale
  • The six factors that consumers are most likely to consider when comparison shopping
  • The most popular items that Kiwis are buying online these days
  • The four most-important offerings you can provide that will have consumers recommending you to their friends
  • The five most likely reasons why consumers abandon their shopping cart in the middle of a purchase
  • how you can use what you learn about your customers’ wants/needs, pain points, hesitations/anxieties, likes, loves and obsessions to improve your conversion rates

Another important issue to consider in the wake of the coronavirus is simply this: how will your customers and prospects behave in today’s economic times (which are a challenge for many)?

In recessionary periods, research tells us that four Psychological Segments will dominate:

Segment 1: Slam on the Brakes
The hardest-hit consumer segment, which may reduce, delay, or eliminate spending. It includes lower-income buyers and high-anxiety buyers of all wealth levels.

Segment 2: Pained but Patient
The segment with near-term anxiety but a positive long-term outlook. This is often the largest segment. Buyers economize across all areas. More bad news may push them into the slam-on-the-brakes segment.

Segment 3: Comfortably well-off
The segment that continues buying at almost the same level, with some additional selectivity about purchases. It’s made up mostly of wealthy consumers.

Segment 4: Live for Today
A segment that skews young and urban, with a focus on experiences over stuff. They are generally unconcerned about savings, though they may delay major purchases.

Buying Decisions Take Longer

You should also expect buying decisions to take longer, as a recent Oracle research study reports:

In this session, we discuss how different customer segments behave in response to recessionary pressures, and recommend appropriate strategies and tactics for each segment.

Session Goal: To help you develop an enhanced understanding of your customers and buttons and how best to motivate them to buy more of your products in Q4 2020.


Session #4: Re-Evaluating Your Products

it’s time to take a closer look at exactly what you offer and whether that should change or evolve.

To determine exactly what else you might sell, you should start with your existing customers and hot prospects. What do they want? If they didn’t buy your products or services, what would they buy instead? If you have a few friendly customers on tap, ask them what they would prefer to buy. You may be surprised by the answers.

Is what you already offer physical or virtual? Whatever your answer, could you also sell the alternative? The Covid-19 experience has seen many businesses switch from physical to virtual. For example, Les Mills had already been offering its fitness classes online but then accelerated, accentuating the virtual. Could you do likewise?

Do you sell one-off products, or are your initial purchases simply the first in a continuing subscription? How could you make the move from one-time to ongoing?

In this session, we also discuss:

  • Key trends from New Zealand and elsewhere that may impact on what you have to offer
  • products that are already hot offshore that you might add to your portfolio
  • if you source your products from elsewhere, should you drop-ship (i.e. you take the money and manage customer interactions while the manufacturer ships products to your customers)?

And, one of the key questions in this session:

How do you make your products unique? If you are not the creator and manufacturer of the products you sell, how can you package such products so that you are providing your customers with a unique offering they can only come from you?

That probably sounds optimistic at best, impossible at worst. But once you personalise your offerings — or at least personalise the way you present them — you will indeed be able to turn yourself into the only destination able to offer the brand called You.

Session Goal: Our objective in this session is to encourage you to take fresh look at the products that you offer and consider how you might make them even more desirable for potential customers.


Session #5: Marketing

You won’t sell anything if you don’t attract visitors to your listings — but how do you get noticed online? We explore digital marketing tools such as PR, Organic Search, Pay Per Click, Social Media Advertising & Marketing, Online Video, Instant Messaging, Influencer Marketing and of course Email.

Session Five shows you:

  • How to see what Google sees when it looks at your website. We don’t want to scare you, but you’ll probably be horrified (most online businesses are, at least at first).
  • The strategy we call Trojan Horse Marketing — and how you can use it effectively to build ongoing relationships with customers and prospects
  • The brave but risky strategies adopted by some of the world’s best ecommerce operators — and why they’re now virtually compulsory
  • The source of more than 30% of all traffic to leading ecommerce sites — and the steps they take to maximise that traffic
  • How often you should communicate with your customers, and what happens if you talk too much or too little
  • How an observation made long ago by one of the world’s leading admen is now absolutely vital to your online success
  • The single technique that accounts for a whopping 77,316 website visits each month to a leading U.S. online retailer
  • Cheap and cheerful tools you can use to streamline your online marketing, whether you’re a massive multinational or a sole trader
  • The key ingredients that can spell success or failure for your online store

Session Goal: We aim to show you how to attract prospects that will buy your products, over and over again.


Session #6: Your Systems

It doesn’t matter how many prospects you attract to your online store, if you don’t have the systems and processes in place to convert those prospects into buyers, you’re just wasting both your time and your money.

That’s why we devote our efforts in Session Six to ensuring that you have an effective conversion machine.

In this session, we cover:

  • nine key principles designed to improve the rate at which your visitors are converted
  • how your website can grab more attention, in a world where goldfish are more attentive than the average consumer
  • the 71 key elements that will help your website succeed
  • conversely, the 20 key elements that will doom your website to failure
  • how to create sizzling descriptions & enticing offers
  • the “would you like fries with that?” increased-basket-size strategy

This session also covers:

  • How to structure your website pages to make more sales (not lose them)
  • How to turn your shopping cart into an effective selling tool
  • The untapped power of the “Thank You” page
  • The nearly universal adoption of smartphones in New Zealand — and why that matters so much to online retailers
  • The 10 most important ways in which consumers are using their mobile phones to shop online more effectively — and what you absolutely must do to take advantage of this hottest of new trends

Session Goal: To show you how to make your website the most effective sales tool in your business.

Who should take part in this coaching program?

The primary target audience for this coaching program, those who will get the most out of the content, are those who are already selling online.

This coaching program isn’t for everyone. You must be prepared to put in the effort to ensure that you take full advantage of the materials that we share with you.


Because this is one-to-one coaching, we can accept no more than six participants.

Sorry, we have filled the coaching program and are no longer accepting applicants.



If you would like to be considered for this coaching program when and if applications re-open, please send an email to asking to be put on the waitlist.

About Your Coach

Your coach, Michael Carney, has been giving advice to New Zealand clients large and small for the last four decades, as a Strategic Planning Director, strategist and Media Director with some of New Zealand’s leading advertising agencies. Since 2010, he has trained people from more than 3000 businesses through his online training organisation, Netmarketing Courses, from time to time in partnership with a number of industry associations including the NZ Marketing Association and the NZ Retailers’ Association.

Michael is also the author of “Trade Me Success Secrets: How To Buy and Sell Effectively on NZ’s Favourite Auction Site”, now in its second edition; and has worked with many organisations on their ecommerce strategies.

Michael Carney Written by: