Halloween is the busiest season for costume and lingerie e-retailer Yandy.com as the holiday generates a quarter of the retailer’s annual revenue.  

For lingerie and costume e-retailer Yandy LLC, preparation for Halloween 2017 started on Nov. 1, 2016.

There’s a reason its efforts began a year in advance: About 25% of the retailer’s sales are Halloween-related, says Jeff Watton, chief financial officer of Yandy.com. Yandy is No. 429 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000 and generated $50 million in 2016 web sales, according to Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com.

And so the day after Halloween, the web-only merchant reviewed how it performed during the holiday period, identified trends and anticipated how it can be more successful next year, Watton says. For example, the retailer last year noticed that one of its best-selling costumes was a pumpkin T-shirt dress.

Many consumers want to wear Halloween attire throughout October, but it’s not always appropriate to wear a full-on costume, Watton says. This year Yandy expanded its festive T-shirt dress collection and other suitable-for-work Halloween apparel that shoppers can wear in the weeks leading up to Halloween, he says.

“People want to celebrate the holiday more than just on the day of,” Watton says. “People get excited as soon as it is Oct. 1.”

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Traffic to Yandy’s site parallels this mindset as the retailer’s web traffic starts its uptick in September, and then once the calendar flips to October, traffic climbs dramatically. Last year traffic to Yandy.com increased 120% in October compared with its average in August, according to data from web measurement firm SimilarWeb Ltd. Sales follow suit, Watton says.

With Halloween on a Tuesday this year, Yandy expects the majority of consumers to celebrate the holiday on the weekend before (Oct. 27-29). “People want to celebrate the holiday during October,” Watton says. This means Yandy.com will likely experience its peak volume in sales on Saturday, Oct. 21, and Sunday, Oct. 22.

Being a web-only retailer that caters to women who are 18 to 34 years old, many customers expect fast fulfillment, Watton says.

“We deal with challenges of a consumer who is very comfortable buying online,” he says. “Every year more and more of our orders are concentrated in the week of Halloween weekend. We’ve always made sure to be prepared for that peak volume.”

During this surge, Yandy’s employee count swells to 250 from its typical 100, and most of those hires are for Yandy’s customer service and warehouse department, Watton says.

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In addition, the retailer details on the checkout page when it guarantees delivery with free shipping, and how much it costs for two-day or overnight express shipping.

Monday, Oct. 23, is the last day Yandy will guarantee a free delivery by Friday, Oct. 27. Shoppers can place an order through Thursday, Oct. 26, at 4:30 p.m. Pacific for a Friday, Oct. 27, delivery that carries a $14.95 shipping fee.

About 5,000, or 20%, of Yandy’s SKUs are Halloween-related, and the e-retailer added 1,500 new costumes this year. The retailer likes to incorporate fashion trends into its costumes, such as romper silhouettes or sheer material, he says. Plus, Yandy keeps up on pop culture trends to incorporate into costumes. For example, this year the retailer is selling a “fake news” costume.

Also new this year to Yandy’s Halloween collection are more plus-sized costumes and an exclusive deal with Playboy for Playboy-branded and bunny costumes. Yandy has been working with Playboy since June on the costumes and will showcase the collection at a fashion show this week in Los Angeles.

Event-based marketing like the Playboy fashion show is an effective marketing channel for Yandy, Watton says. Last year, for example, it had a swimwear fashion show, and bathing suit sales doubled year over year immediately following the event, he says.

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The retailer also uses text messages to market to its loyal shoppers, especially millennials who typically are on a smartphone and fall in Yandy’s target market group, Watton says.

The retailer uses SMS to alert shoppers of promotions or deals, he says. Yandy has used text-message marketing for several years, but this year has increased the cadence of sending messages weekly instead of monthly.

Yandy informs shoppers about the text messaging program on its website. Several hundred thousand consumers have signed up, and the messages have a click-through rate of about 7%, he says. This is much higher than Yandy.com’s email click through rate, which is about 1.5%, the retailer says.

“The millennial customer is less reliant on an email inbox,” Watton says. “We want to communicate with them in a way that is more convenient.”

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