5 Ecommerce Strategies NOW for More Holiday Sales
Is it 95 degrees where you are also? We know it can be hard to think about the holiday season when it’s beach weather. But for online business owners, summer is the time to plan your ecommerce strategies for the holidays.
By the time Q4 rolls around on October 1, your website should be running as smoothly as Santa’s sleigh. If you wait until then to make changes, you risk losing sales due to technical glitches or missed opportunities. You do not want your site to go down or to disappoint customers at any time, but especially not in Q4.
Here are 5 ecommerce strategies to consider now:
1. Improve your site performance
You can do all the marketing you want, but if your website doesn’t perform, none of it matters.
Hurried holiday shoppers do not want to wait for your site to load. Your site needs to be speedy, not sluggish, on both desktop and mobile. You can test your site speeds with online tools (and/or ask your developers) to get for ideas for improvement. If at all possible, speed up your site so you don’t slow your shoppers down.
Using free online tools such as this speed test at Pingdom can point to issues that cause delays in website load time.
Also, is everything functioning correctly? Can people create accounts and wish lists? Is it easy to checkout on various devices and operating systems without any trouble? Yes, Amazon can have glitches and still make more money than ever. Most other retailers can’t. Don’t lose sales due to poor site performance.
You may also have email promotions or big sales planned around certain dates. Talk through these plans with your development team. They can mark their calendar to prepare for increased traffic at specified times.
2. Make your shipping and return policies easy and obvious.
Do not hide your policies thinking that if they are out of sight, they are out of mind. Gift-giving is fraught with mistakes. People like to know that they can recover from gift fails. Make your policies both for shipping and returns easy to find and understand. Test your policy with a few people unfamiliar with your site. (Just go to a café and buy coffee for a few strangers in exchange for their time). See if they can find your policies on your site and explain them to you accurately. What is sometimes obvious to business owners isn’t as clear to customers.
Also remember that unexpected costs cause shoppers to abandon carts. Provide shipping cost estimates early in buying process. A surprise in cost later in the checkout funnel can halt a transaction. Avoid annoying or surprising customers. We suggest offering real-time shipping information based on shipping destination.
3. Add suggested items or a gift guide.
Few people find shopping for the holidays relaxing. The holidays bring pressure to find the right gifts. The easier you can make shopping at your site, the more appreciative your customers will be.
You could develop a special section of your site that works as a gift guide to save customers time. People appreciate guides since it can be hard to come up with good gift ideas year after year. Perhaps customers can sort items by cost, color, the intended gift recipient, and so on.
You can also add functionality on your website to add suggested items. If you are selling men’s shoes, why not suggest a pair of matching socks? Making product suggestions is a strategy to increase average order value and showcase other items you sell.
Client Pop Chart Lab suggests other items that a sports fan might like to purchase after a print of basketball jerseys is added to the shopping cart.
4. Set up or beef up your loyalty program.
Loyalty programs are a win-win for both retailers and customers. If you don’t have one, learn more about loyalty programs here from the experts at Loyalty Lion.
One common way to gain rewards points or dollars in a loyalty program is by referring friends to a site. For much of the year, making referrals may be an uncommon thing for someone to do. But the holidays offer a natural opportunity for friends and family members to help each other. For example, you can help your siblings AND gain loyalty points at the same time.
If you get your loyalty program up and running now in Q3, you will be in good shape by the holidays. You will have customers already in your loyalty program for related holiday promotions. You can also make sure the program software is functioning as it should.
5. Be ready for those shoppers starting on mobile.
Approximately 30% of ecommerce sales in the U.S. now happen on mobile, according to recent research from Internet Retailer. Even more purchases begin on a mobile device and end at a future session on a larger computer.
Ensure that it’s easy for your shoppers to create an account on a mobile devices to begin the purchase process. This will help people can pick up wherever they left off when they move to desktop or laptop. Also, our in-house usability research shows that people get confused by inconsistencies. Your categories, appearance, and features should be the same on all devices and computers.
By the time Q4 rolls around on October 1, you should feel confident about your website. Your focus in Q4 can be where it belongs – on marketing and sales. Avoid trouble by getting a jump start on your competition! Discuss your holiday hopes with your development team as soon as possible.