It’s no secret that the pandemic changed holiday shopping behaviors. Shoppers who previously browsed aisles and stood in line for Black Friday deals turned to eCommerce stores to search for and ship gifts. And many people who previously shied away from buying online finally took the leap. 81% of Americans did more than half of their holiday shopping online last year AND are planning to do the same amount, or more, of their purchasing online in 2021.1 Following these 10 must-do steps will help you prepare your eCommerce store to earn your share of holiday sales.
1. Address Site Load Speed Issues
Holiday shoppers have little tolerance for slow loading pages. You have about two seconds to get your content in front of them before they start thinking about moving on to the next search result. Testing your site speed—and particularly mobile site speed—can help you identify issues and pages that need to be optimized for a faster load time. In addition to minimizing abandonment, fixing site load issues also improves your search ranking potential. Remember, there are plenty of competitors’ sites that are ready to deliver products and services quickly if yours won’t.
2. Make Early Shopping Easy
Possible supply chain and fulfillment issues are going to further impact online purchasing behaviors this year. 34% of people intend to shop early because they’re worried about not receiving orders in time.2 Some brands are already incentivizing early purchases to avoid leaving customers without a gift to give. Adding an early shopper sale could be a smart move for online purchases this year.
Another method of making early shopping easy is to extend your return policy and clearly display on your site that purchases can be returned until January 31. A 30-day return policy does not allow gifts purchased before Thanksgiving to be returned after the holidays (or after a delayed holiday celebration).
3. Improve the Checkout Process
No eCommerce brand wants a customer with items in their cart to attempt to check out and leave frustrated to purchase them elsewhere. Possible checkout enhancements include:
- Limit checkout to a single page
- Offer guest checkout for customers who don’t want to create an account
- Include Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) if you have a retail location
- Offer convenient payment options, including things like PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.
- Provide shipping options to ensure on-time delivery
- Be transparent about your holiday return policy
- Provide gift-wrapping and personalized message options
- Consider offering a shared cart with partner brands
4. Personalize the Shopping Experience
eCommerce stores have a wealth of data to use to their advantage. You can see what people have searched for and purchased during past holiday seasons, what’s in their cart now and more. The better you use analytics to personalize the shopping experience, the more likely shoppers will be to convert.
Data Should Be Used to Personalize:
- Relevant product recommendations
- Real-time holiday offers for repeat and first-time customers
- Mobile offers and push notifications to apps
- Cart abandonment notifications
- Recently viewed and buy again features
- Email and text marketing efforts
5. Drive Traffic Through Paid Media
To drive traffic to your eCommerce site, you need to be showing up at the top of the list when people are searching and prompting them when they’re looking at related content. Strategically using search engine marketing to purchase relevant keywords is a smart way to outrank and outperform competitors. eCommerce brands should also consider Google Shopping Ads, social commerce, digital marketing display ads and retargeting. A balanced paid media strategy will help you promote your products and deals to holiday shoppers when they are most likely to take action.
6. Prepare for Traffic Spikes
If your holiday marketing efforts work, then you’re going to experience increased traffic to your website. If they work really well, there’s a chance your web store could experience slow loading times or even go down. Evaluating your site stability and preparing for traffic spikes ahead of the holiday rush is critical to ensure you don’t miss out on sales. It’s also a good idea to confirm that you have enough backend support and back up your store in case any issues do arise.
7. Identify Promotions & Holiday Marketing Opportunities
Black Friday. Cyber Monday. BOGOS. Free shipping. For brands, one of the primary holiday challenges is determining which promotions will drive the most traffic and generate the most profit. Analyzing your past holiday performance and monitoring competitors will help you weigh options such as:
- Offering limited-time discounts
- Creating “holiday bundles” of products
- Partnering with influencers on social media
- Offering contests or giveaways
- Rewarding customers with a loyalty or referral program
- Using limited availability to create urgency (i.e., Only 4 left in stock)
8. Add Gifting Navigation and Search Functionality
Holiday shoppers are not buying for themselves. They appreciate the ability to search by recipient and shop by price range. Navigation that allows a shopper to search by Gifts for Men, Gifts for Kids or Gifts for Cats can be very helpful to a shopper who doesn’t have a specific item in mind. Products can also be further segmented into groups like Gifts for 10-Year-Old Girls and Gifts for Sports Fans.
9. Optimize Site Content
Making your online store holiday-shopper-friendly helps to move people from the homepage to the cart. You can optimize your site content for the holidays by:
- Creating holiday-specific content that is relevant to your products or services (i.e., holiday decorating tips for home products)
- Ensuring content is displaying properly in mobile or breaking copy into shorter, mobile-friendly sections
- Adding FAQs to reduce abandonment and customer service calls
- Displaying reviews not just on product pages, but also with relevant content
- Providing clear call to actions
- Adding a “compare products” feature if applicable
10. Ensure Brand Consistency from the Store to the Door
Your web store needs to tell your brand story and look and feel the same as any retail, social or online retailer presence you may have. It needs to provide an experience for customers that is worthy of reexperiencing. And when a purchased product arrives at the shopper or gift recipient’s home, the packaging needs to do the same. A memorable unboxing experience can be part of the gift you are helping shoppers to give.
As a marketing agency specializing in eCommerce, Trone can help you get your web store ready to make the most of the holiday season. Contact us to discuss your site and how to persuade more holiday shoppers to purchase.