In what can only be a carefully-timed PR move, Amazon has this morning secured impressive coverage by announcing that it's testing the use of drones for deliveries.
Why so carefully-timed? Well, today just so happens to be Cyber Monday, the day when online sales peak in the run-up to Christmas. Experts are predicting that internet spending today could hit £500m, making it the biggest online shopping day in history.
Never mind that drone deliveries are likely still years off — what matters to Amazon is that it has got its brand into the BBC website's top 'most read' slot on the busiest digital retail day of the year.
While it's true that Cyber Monday has become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, there is no doubt that the first Monday in December is a key online shopping day. So, if you sell online, it could pay to be prepared.
Last-minute Cyber Monday preparations
Ok, so without the PR budget of Amazon you're unlikely to secure similar levels of brand coverage. However, if you sell online, there are still things you can do to make sure you handle Cyber Monday well.
It's a little late now to do anything more than last-minute preparations, of course. But you can certainly make sure that your website's working properly and you're ready to handle orders that arrive:
- Check your website is functioning ok. At any time of year, website downtime means lost revenue. But on the busiest day of the year, the impact will obviously be higher. Have you checked it today yet? Go on, do a test order right now.
- Postpone non-essential maintenance. There is absolutely no point in doing anything that could hit your website sales on the busiest day of the year. Updating your website's software? Just wait till tomorrow.
- Consider upping your online advertising. It depends on your budget and your market, of course. But in general, more consumers will be online today hunting for gifts. You could reach more of them by increasing your online advertising spend.
- Be ready to pack and ship orders. One of the most effective ways to keep your customers happy is to pack and send orders quickly. Now's the time to nip out for bubblewrap and sticky tape, if you're running low.
- Think about staying late. Retailers including Amazon and John Lewis expect sales to peak this evening, from 6pm — 9pm. It might be worth hanging on in the office, just to make sure your website keeps running smoothly.
How have you found Cyber Monday in previous years? Does it deliver a boost to your bottom line, or is it nothing more than a load of hype?