The end of the financial year (EOFY) is fast approaching. And what a year it’s been. In mid-2020, the world was still in the thick of the global pandemic, with many retailers trying to keep their heads above water to see out the storm. Indeed, a 2020 survey found less than half as many Australians were planning on doing EOFY shopping compared to the same time in 2019 (76% down to just 27%).

But this year offers brand new opportunities. In Australia, as we (thankfully) emerge on the other side of COVID-19, this year’s EOFY sales are a perfect chance for retailers to reset and refresh — and perhaps recoup some of last year’s losses. Thinking beyond clearing products for stocktake, EOFY is one of the year’s rare instances to capture new customers hunting for a deal.

How can retailers, big, small, and micro, take advantage? The reality of the retail landscape at the moment is one of constant bargains; customers regularly expect sales and are actively looking for discounts. A recent McKinsey survey found 45% of Australians look for ways to save money while shopping as a direct result of the impacts of COVID-19. Clearly, Australians are feeling conscious of the impact on their hip pocket, but this isn’t a bad thing. Rather it presents an opportunity for retailers to strike while the iron’s hot.

This EOFY, it’s vital to differentiate, and capitalise on the moment to delight existing customers and reach brand new ones.

Don’t neglect the back-end

It can be tempting to throw all your energy into perfecting the look of your online store prior to EOFY — uploading new product photos, or beautifying the website design. But what goes on in the back-end is just as important. From making sure the transaction process is watertight from a security point of view, to managing communications with your fulfillment partners, EOFY can be a make or break moment for retailers in the calendar year. And you don’t want it breaking due to easily-solvable technology bugs.

Server preparation is also key. Preparing back-end technology for an onslaught of web traffic is extremely important prior to seasonal shopping events such as EOFY. With the sales occurring over a set time period — usually at the beginning of June, swiftly ending on the evening of June 30 — retailers need to make the necessary tweaks now to cope with additional traffic. 

Perfect an upselling strategy

With strategic upselling, merchants can increase the average order value. For a customer, it means upgrading to a bigger or more premium version of what they’re purchasing — and during EOFY, this can be a particularly profitable exercise. For example, someone buying a computer during the EOFY sales may be more likely to upgrade knowing they’re purchasing a tax deductible item. During the transaction process, it can be as easy as adding a new page prior to order confirmation to suggest similar, better models of a product, or additions that would help the customer get the most out of the product.

Ready, set, promotion

From a marketing perspective, timing is everything with this sale. Particularly regarding any deductible items, such as office supplies, books, or automotive equipment, sales promotions have to be precisely timed. From a communications standpoint, all your various promotional touchpoints with consumers — from social media, to the website, email marketing and signage — need to be uniform in their messaging about EOFY sales, what you’re offering, and that it ends swiftly on June 30. For businesses starting to plan their EOFY sales, now is the time to begin seeding your marketing messages.

So don’t leave it until it’s too late. EOFY can be just the lift your retail business has been waiting for, as long as you start planning and strategising now.

Shaun Broughton is managing director for Asia Pacific at Shopify.