What is the Golden Quarter, and How Has it Evolved Over the Years?
By Bethany Llewellyn • Last updated: Thursday Sep 28th, 2023
Q4 is the busiest time of the year for many eCommerce businesses as website traffic hits its peak.
Retailers across all industries will be looking to capitalise on this influx of visitors, but evolving consumer behaviour and the cost of living crisis make it increasingly difficult for retailers to stay up to date with the latest eCommerce trends.
Identifying the value of an optimised eCommerce strategy is the first step to driving more conversions and maximising sales throughout the Golden Quarter.
What is the Golden Quarter?
It’s the time of year many of us have a love/hate relationship with: the Golden Quarter.
This period between the months of October and December is often the busiest time of the year for retailers due to key dates such as Singles Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.
It’s no surprise that this season demands weeks and even months of planning to ensure that marketing strategies and campaigns are fully optimised ahead of the surge in traffic.
While Black Friday is relatively new in the UK, the concept of the Golden Quarter has been around for some time, with retailers traditionally seeing sales spike in the build-up to the Christmas period.
As the years have gone by, we’ve seen these discount periods increase in popularity as UK shoppers grab last-minute deals.
What you can do: Ensure your marketing strategy is up-to-date and optimised during this busy period.
How has eCommerce changed the Golden Quarter?
In previous years, in-store shopping was without a doubt the go-to for many consumers.
Shoppers would flood to shopping centres no matter the queue length in order to grab the latest offers, discounts or Christmas gifts.
For many customers, the in-store experience in the Golden Quarter allowed them to connect with others through shopping together, viewing items and their quality before purchasing, and ultimately adding to their Christmas spirit.
But, in order to attract consumers to the high street in recent years, retailers need to ensure they offer greater differentiation between in-store and online experiences.
Some examples of in-store priorities throughout the festive season are:
- In-person Black Friday sales
- Christmas displays in shopping centres
- Physical vouchers or discount cards
This form of traditional seasonal marketing is far from redundant, but as consumer behaviour continues to change, will this be enough in the years to come?
Brick-and-mortar stores were the default shopping destination in the UK, but now the ease of online shopping is quickly contributing to their decline.
In 2021, more than 10,000 high street stores closed their doors after reflecting on buyer behaviour following the pandemic.1
The Golden Quarter looks different for eCommerce. It allows businesses to focus on driving more of the right traffic to their store and then provide an optimised on-site experience.
Plus, a longer period to promote offers and discounts results in less pressure for the business to hit sales targets and more time to prepare its supply chain.
We can see a big difference in eCommerce priorities throughout the Golden Quarter:
- Online promotions and discounts
- Email nurturing
- Flash sales to drive traffic
Research from DivideBuy suggests that UK consumers are set to do more of their shopping online by 2026, with the figure rising to 38%.2
When you consider the advantages that online shopping offers, it’s no surprise that business is booming for those who adopt a digital marketing strategy.
Suggested reading: How to drive more of the right traffic to your eCommerce website.
How to maximise sales during the festive season
The rise in festive online shoppers brings with it the potential for a whole host of new, loyal customers.
You’ve put so much effort into your seasonal campaigns that you don’t want it to go to waste.
Here are some of the ways you can ensure you make the most of your new and existing customers:
- Personalise the on-site experience: Personalisation is expected as standard by the majority of consumers. Provide a memorable, tailored experience that transforms customer journeys with CRO tools like Digital Assistant.
- Use an email capture campaign: Deploy campaigns on-site to encourage newsletter sign-ups. You can then nurture and retarget these customers to persuade them to return to your site and become engaged customers.
- Prioritise customer service: A customer’s experience on your site can be the difference between a conversion or a lost sale. With the increase in website traffic this season, ensure your FAQs and live chat systems are readily available for customer queries.
- Analyse your data: Inform your marketing strategy by utilising eCommerce platforms like Salesfire’s Trends to monitor real-time data across various industries.
- Utilise social proof: Just because your customers aren’t observing each other’s in-store behaviour doesn’t mean you can’t still leverage social proof. Requesting reviews from buyers not only improves your credibility, but it also shows you care about your customers’ satisfaction.
This organic rise in eCommerce sales doesn’t mean businesses should get complacent.
Eduardo from Patchworks has shared some expert advice:
“To take full advantage of this boom, you need to put in place an intelligent strategy which ensures customers won’t just spend their money with you during the Golden Quarter, but will keep coming back afterwards.
“One of the best ways to do this is through a solid tech stack. Whether that’s best-of-breed marketing solutions such as personalisation software or digital loyalty programs, or eCommerce-specific features like buy now, pay later — you need to think intelligently about what will encourage customers to spend with you during the Golden Quarter and not your competitors.3
By anticipating and preparing for an increase in traffic, you can make the necessary amendments to your website and marketing strategy ahead of the busy sales period.
Planning in advance will reduce last-minute stress and save resources that you can re-invest in your business, your team and your customers.
Suggested reading: Six functional requirements for eCommerce website success.
Looking to the future
It’s safe to say the future of the Golden Quarter looks extremely different compared to a decade ago, but for eCommerce stores, it’s only going up.
From Black Friday deals to Christmas shopping, the opportunities are endless for eCommerce businesses to thrive throughout the Golden Quarter, and since online shopping has boomed in recent years, your target market is ever-growing.
With the array of possibilities readily available, you want to ensure your website and marketing strategy are optimised and ready to handle the surge in traffic from festive shoppers.
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