While consumers are busy getting ready for back-to-school and soaking up the last of the summer heat, retailers are preparing for the upcoming holiday season. And according to every prediction, this year is going to be huge for ecommerce.
Last year, online sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday grew by 12.6% and continued growth is expected for 2015. While this provides a lot of opportunity for revenue growth, online retailers face a number of challenges including increasingly tough competition and rapidly changing consumer demands. Here’s how you can get your online store ready to capture more holiday shoppers than ever before.
Improve Your Customer Experience
Although shoppers are spending more money online than ever before, a recent IBM report shows that they are actually spending less time doing so. This means less time on site, fewer page views, and less product views per visit. And most of this is due to the rise of mobile devices.
Nearly half the traffic to ecommerce sites in the first quarter of 2015 came from a mobile device and that number is expected to grow before the end of the year. The problem? Many of those customers don’t stay long. Almost 40% of shoppers bounce on the first page view. Imagine the revenue impact if you could convert just a fraction of those visits. Keep customers on your site longer by improving the following:
- Think omnichannel: Thinking mobile is too small for tomorrow’s shoppers. They are jumping from device to device all while standing in your brick and mortar store. Create a consistent and easy to use experience for your customers that considers what they need by channel.
- Add product filtering: With limited page views to get the right product in front of the customer, adding simple product filtering to your ecommerce store is crucial. Surprisingly only 16% of major ecommerce stores offer a “reasonably good filtering experience” according to Smashing Magazine.
- Personalize the Experience: Regardless of how much information you store on your customers, you have the ability to personalize their experience. It could be as simple as tailoring a landing page for specific product categories or offering product recommendations based on their cart.
Plan Your Promotions
A well-designed promotion takes months of preparation and planning. Most large e-tailers plan their strategies months in advance. If you haven’t figured out how you are going to promote your store for the holidays don’t stress – there’s still time.
The best way to stand out from your competition is to truly know your customers. Knowing who they are, how they shop, and how they interact with your brand will help you design the most effective strategy. There are multiple types of holiday shoppers – consider which of the following you are trying to attract.
- Overly Prepared Customers are already planning their holiday purchases. They are watching your social media channels and emails to determine when is the best time to buy. When possible, give them notice of promotions in advance so they can incorporate it into their buying strategy.
- Bargain Hunters don’t care about your brand, they only care about scoring the best deal. They carefully consider extra costs and read the fine print. If you offer free shipping, make sure you promote it prominently on your homepage and product pages.
- Last-minute Shoppers are still enjoying the sunshine. They won’t even think about holiday shopping until mid-December. Plan your marketing strategy to let last-minute shoppers know you still have the gift they’re looking for in-stock and tell them all about your rush shipping options.
Planning your promotions around the different types of shoppers will help you maximize your sales and stretch out the holiday shopping season. With a reported 40% of shoppers planning to start their holiday shopping before Halloween, it appears you can never start too early. Many large retailers, such as American Eagle, are leading the “Christmas Creep” and have already launched holiday themed promotions.
Don’t Leave it to Chance
No other day in ecommerce is as busy as Cyber Monday. Just because your site performs well under day-to-day operations, the frenzy of holiday shopping can cause small issues to turn into major ones. An hour of downtime on Cyber Monday can cost you more than an entire week’s worth of revenue.
Ample lead-time and planning can give you more time for testing. Test your emails on different devices. Review your landing pages and conversion paths. Optimize your checkout and ensure you offer enough payment options to guarantee conversion.
The forecasts are in your favor – make 2015 the best holiday season your company has ever had.