The holiday season is starting earlier than ever. Walmart began its promotions on October 25th – the earliest it’s ever been. Some of this is due to the fact that this year’s Thanksgiving-to-Christmas shopping season was short. Regardless, we’re still seeing brands prepare for the holidays earlier and earlier, with staffing and promotional ideas starting in the late summer.
A well-designed holiday season depends on proper planning and execution. Below is your e-commerce guide to surviving the holiday season.
Ensure a seamless shopping experience across devices.
More than ever, people are using multiple devices to make their online purchases. According to this article, 53 percent of traffic to online stores comes from mobile devices, but this translates to just 32 percent of revenue. That said, more people are using their mobile devices to make purchases, suggesting that it’s becoming easier and safer to hit the “Buy” button on a smartphone.
To accommodate more mobile sales, be sure that your payment page is just as easy on mobile as it is on desktop. Also, include trust seals to remind shoppers that your site is safe and secure. Finally, your e-commerce site should have an SSL certificate because you’re asking for sensitive information.
Address obstacles that lead to shopping cart abandonment.
Last year, $4.5 trillion in e-commerce sales was lost to abandoned shopping carts. There are a number of reasons why customers disregard their carts:
- They were just browsing
- Shipping costs were higher than expected
- Delivery was later than expected
- Lack of payment options
- Technical issues with the site
- Found a better deal somewhere else
While you won’t gain back all abandoned carts, it’s important to address the common reasons why people leave. Be clear about your shipping costs, offer a range of delivery and payment options and test your site regularly.
Make sure people can find you on Google.
Google delivers the majority of web traffic and revenue, so make sure that you’re in good standing with the search giant. SEO takes time to produce results, so it’s important to work on this early and often. Here are a few tips for improving your SEO for the holiday season.
- Fill out your product pages with relevant descriptions, photos and reviews
- Build backln by doing something to get media coverage, such as a community event or volunteer work
- Write great ad copy for your meta tags
- Create holiday-related content like gift guides, top 10s and shopping tips
Provide fast, responsive customer service.
Customer service is imperative during the holiday season. In fact, if you have a reputation for excellent customer service, you can compete with the major retailers who may lack in this department. Ultimately, customers are just looking for some reassurance that what they’re buying will arrive on time.
Here are the best ways you can ensure attentive customer service.
- Respond quickly to questions or concerns
- Be available on multiple channels
- Offer a live chat service
- Provide 24/7 customer support
- Be empathetic and understanding
Create valuable content.
Consumers are immune to flashy ads and aggressive sales pitches. Rather than annoying your audience with this type of marketing, invest in valuable content that builds trust. In fact, your audience shouldn’t even realize that what they’re reading or watching is advertising! You can do this by creating a video that tells your brand story or giving your customers information they can use.
Decide on your promotions.
You don’t have to slash your product prices to compete with the big box retailers. These stores are able to do this and still make a profit because of the other products they sell. But, you’re probably not operating on the same playing field. So, before you reduce your prices, consider some ways to increase the perceived value of your products and still generate revenue.
For example, make buy-one-get-one deals, bundle products and services into a single package or offer a convenient payment plan. Also, your marketing shouldn’t stop once a customer leaves your site. Keep your store front and center with holiday-specific product bundles, wish lists and side-by-side comparisons.
Keep your site safe and secure.
Make sure your e-commerce site is backed up daily. Also, tighten your site’s fraud standards and keep it safe from hackers. To do this, use the latest version of software, plugins and themes. Always choose strong passwords and use multi-factor authentication when it’s available. Even the strongest passwords can be breached. Other ways to maintain a secure e-commerce site is by choosing a reliable hosting provider, using an SSL certificate, restricting admin logins and monitoring your network.
By following the tips above, you can ensure a smooth and successful holiday season. And, be prepared for January, particularly if you’re in the health, fitness or self-improvement industries. This time of year brings a lot of customers your way for continued sales.