UK SME online retailers plan to start Christmas promotions this week, Royal Mail study reveals

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UK SME online retailers are planning to start their Christmas promotions this week –  a week earlier than last year – as they prepare to win their share of festive sales, according to research by Royal Mail.

The study of over 300 SMEs employing up to 250 people revealed that price promotion is the most common tactic to win customer sales this Christmas.

Royal Mail’s study further revealed that of those who export, 64% expect international orders as a proportion of overall Christmas sales to increase this year. In the run up to Christmas 2013, 51% of exporting UK SME online retailers said they were expecting international sales growth. The USA remains the largest international market

UK SME online retailers are planning to start their Christmas promotions this week – a week earlier than last year – as they prepare to win their share of festive sales, research by Royal Mail has revealed.

Pricing promotion the top tactic

The study of over 300 SMEs employing up to 250 people revealed price promotion is the most common activity to win customer sales this Christmas. One in six (57%) of those surveyed said they planned to use that tactic. This second most popular promotional activity to be used by UK SME online retailers is free delivery (55%), the study found. Free returns will be offered to shoppers by 35% of online retailers surveyed.

And of those who export, 64% expect international orders as a proportion of overall Christmas sales to increase this year. In the run up to Christmas 2013, 51% of exporting UK SME online retailers said they were expecting international sales growth. The USA is the largest international market, followed by France.

Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said: “Royal Mail’s study of UK’s SME online retailers shows competition for customers will start earlier this year, with price promotions the key tactic for online retailers as well as offering free delivery and returns to their shoppers.

“Royal Mail has also been preparing for the busy festive period and is opening a dedicated network of parcel sort centres to handle the additional volume we experience every Christmas.”

Royal Mail is opening on a phased basis ten temporary parcel sort centres for the Christmas period as part of its festive operation.

The parcel sort centres are being set up to sort a significant proportion of the parcels Royal Mail handles before they are distributed around the UK and delivered to the door by Royal Mail’s postmen and women.