Good or Bad? How We in B-to-B, too, Have Trained Our Customers to be Last-minute Shoppers

I’ve heard a number of nervous comments from B-to-B direct marketers who rely on seasonal products or end-of-the-year sales peaks. Everyone seems a little concerned as their order curves are behind last year’s — in some cases more than 20 percent behind. I’m not worried … yet. Here’s why:

Over the past five years or so with all the advances we’ve seen in technology, there’s been a continual shortening of production and delivery times. What used to take four to five production days, now takes one to two. Shipping and delivery times also have been cut, due to advances made by the likes of United Parcel Service and Federal Express. In most cases, we as a group have underpromised and overdelivered. And that’s good.

At the same time, however, customers have come to depend on our good performance. They now feel secure in ordering B-to-B holiday cards, gifts or year-end employee awards in early December! There was a time not so long ago when if you sold these kinds of products, your season was made by Thanksgiving — or it wasn’t going to happen.

That’s changed. By my estimates, you now have until Dec. 15th or so before your holiday season or end-of-year business is over. That’s because we’ve trained our customers to procrastinate.

Remember this for next year. You might want to put a little more emphasis on messages such as “early-bird discounts” or “order early to guarantee selection.” Maybe you’ll breath a little easier in late November.

Can you relate? If you sell these kinds of products/offers, I’d like to hear if you agree. E-mail me at tjukes@b2bdmi.com .

Have a comment? Please provide me with your feedback at tjukes@b2bdmi.com .

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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