Every single shopper on the planet knows that the holiday season is the most significant and pivotal period for all retailers around the globe. All the markets known to mankind light up right before the festivities take over, as holidays is the optimum time to buy & gift new things and fulfill dreams for everyone!
Even online retailing sees substantial growth in the final quarter of every year, as shoppers riot the websites and the apps to find and get the best deal possible. However, despite greater demand scopes, E-commerce websites have to behave correctly –read: work their bottoms off—to lure in the customers thanks to the competition around.
Last year alone, companies saw a 12% addtional growth in sales thanks to people opening up their wallets during the holidays. So it is vital that you must get your permutations and combinations right before you dip into the holiday season.
Let us take a look at the ways you can get your E-commerce website or store ready for some serious business during the holidays.
1. Try to sustain the extra traffic
Just remember, the brick and mortar shops during the holidays—especially the ones that are popular—are always filled with people, enough sometimes to dissuade a shopper from entering the premises. The same thing can occur on your website or app as well.
With online shopping becoming a popular platform to spend money on, users expect a smooth ride all the way. Hence, for websites, it is vital that they must ensure smooth traffic movement during the rush hours. Here are some things that you must remember when you get your website ready for the last quarter.
- Test and check the speed of your pages
- Decrease page loading time
- Use a good web host
- Make sure to optimize your content so that nothing unneeded is placed
- Check whether your website works flawlessly on all browsers, platforms, and operating systems right after you make changes
- Have the right backend support
- Ensure you have the support of the hosting provider; ask for extra resources to tackle the additional traffic.
A slight delay in page loading can hurt you a lot, as studies have shown that 57% of visitors leave a page when it takes that extra 3 seconds to load. Do avoid it, optimization and proper maintenance procedures must be implemented to get you through the vacation period.
2. Provide good interface to the users
Your website or online store’s interface is the sales executive that your users rely on. The onus is always on your interface to provide and present the right things, in the correct manner, to all your online shoppers.
If you want your shoppers to have a good experience in shopping with you, then it is vital to develop and operate a user-friendly website. The process has to begin with a good design, making it easier for shoppers to hunt, select, and buy products from your website. To make the whole process easier and less tedious, you can primarily focus upon few things first.
- Know all the customer segments
- Try to identify shoppers in groups, such as with their age, gender, culture, and personality, so that you can provide a better website for all to use.
- Finally, make sure that your website can be utilized and enjoyed by people who are not accustomed to computers. I.T.
28% of people in the United States have not yet used the internet till date. However, the number is decreasing day by day and your website must be ready to accommodate them too.
3. Provide safety and protection to your customers
Online shopping means your clients have to do real business with you over the internet, through your website. This actually makes shopping at online stores a very fearful practice for some.
With 1 in every ten now a victim of online fraud or crime, cyber-crime has become a serious issue. E-commerce websites must have a robust mechanism and proper layout in place if they want their customers to shop without any fear.
A TLS/SSL certificate is a priority for any website these days, as they provide customers the high assurance. And, during the holiday season, this assurance is quite vital. If possible, your websites should also have an EVSSL certification, as shoppers get extra trust when the green padlock lights up on your website’s address.
Since users have to give out their credit card credentials, bank account details, and other vital information to shop, websites must ensure security to gain the trust of the users. Also, have a tie-up with renowned payment gateways so that shoppers feel safe when they use their personal details to do business with you.
4. Provide multiple devices and operating system support
With 1.4 billion active Android users, and 1 billion iOS users, ignoring any specific platform or device may just be the stupidest thing that your E-commerce website can ever do. With 3.6 billion internet users around the planet using the web world in various devices and platform, it is vital that you must tap everyone during the holiday times.
Users can be active on a variety of devices, with any operating system and in several screen sizes. Hence, the onus is on you to provide the responsive screen support, where everyone can be catered. Your website, to make the most of the holiday sales, should work on large LED screens and as well as on small smartphones. Don’t create a scenario where your phone users have to select the full version page instead of the mobile version page. So, make your website responsive and roll out an app for maximum millage.
As per Criteo’s Mobile Commerce Report, users who surf on multiple devices and platforms are likely to complete a transaction 20% more than regular users.
5. Highlight the best deals and the great offers
Want to make sure that your customers opt for the best deals? Then try to grab your shopper’s attention in a profound manner. The highlighting should be done on specific pages, for example, the homepage.
Since people, during the holiday times, look to buy gifts for their loved ones, it is always a benefit if you highlight the best presents and some great deals on them. You could also provide them gift wrapping option or discounts on their gifts.
Make use of graphics and engaging content to promote your best sellers—in fact do anything, just make sure you grab the attention of the users.
6. Get your customer support team ready and hire more if you have to
78% of users have opted out of a transaction thanks to poor consumer service: American Express Survey
Shopping online means your users have to rely heavily on your customer support team. The rush is always insane when the festivities are around the corner; people tend to shop more—as the stats have proven.
Thus, the pressure always stays on your team to provide the best support in a quick manner. More visitors to your online store mean more questions, complaints, and feedback. The tensions can rage when users want a quick resolution to their problem. Your customer support team, hence, must hold their nerve and guide your aggrieved users through the problem and solve the issue.
Data from Forrester indicates that 55% of users in the U.S. stop their transaction when they can’t get a quick answer from a website.
Some tips that you can employ during the holidays to be more productive on the customer support program:
- Have FAQs
- Provide your team with the tools and technology that they need to execute customer requests—for example Live Chat.
- Encourage self-service like customers checking out tracking details online on their own rather than asking an agent
- Provide more authority and power to customer team
- Provide cross-departmental support
- Provide support across all channels
Also, if you believe you are short on staff or if you think your existing team would not be able to cope with the holiday shopping rush then hire people!
7. Have a marketing plan ready before your enter the final quarter
It is vital to have a marketing roadmap before you plunge into the waters called holiday sales! Whatever action you decide to take—or ignore—will impact your sales and your conversion rate.
Start with advertising what you can offer during the holidays and why people should select you. Use newsletters, E-mails, social media, text messages, online adverts, and online banners to put your message across.
Investing in a robust promotional campaign and plan on any media channel can bring your website closer to the customers. Use all forms of communication to lure your customers. You can even offer deals and throw in discounts as a marketing gimmick.
If possible, use the traits of content marketing to convey your message in a unique way.
8. Give your website a makeover, but not a drastic change
The festivals are coming up, and you want your regular users to shop from you again. However, on the flip side, you also want to tap new customers as well.
You have to work on the fine line here, and when it comes to renovating or rejuvenating your online store, the thread is even narrower. First of all, when the festivals are round the corner, you must wholeheartedly support the holiday season.
Put in things on the website like a Christmas Cap, use a new distinct holiday season logo, place a picture of Santa, or use snowflakes animation here and there. Just blend in with the holiday spirit.
If you provide users with some festival spirit, then they will surely feel more accommodated. But, do not overdo it.
Any significant change to your identity, website ergonomics, brand, or even change of corporate colors just for one season may hit you hard. Your regular users will not like the fact that you are changing or have changed—as it will cause them inconvenience and disrupt their flow.
9. Listen to your customers, sooner rather than later
70% of consumer experience depends on how the user is treated by companies: Touch Agency
If you want to serve your customers in the best possible way, then you have to listen to them first. Your consumer support and service team must note down all the feedbacks and the complaints that your users may have. These feedbacks can be for various reasons, but you have to rectify those issues before the holiday extravaganza begins.
Since the last quarter will be the most pivotal time for your online shop, it is critical that you must patch up all loose ends in a view to provide the best customer experience to all users. If you face or try to solve a problem during the high sales period itself, then you will be adding unnecessary extra pressure to your already burdened up team.
Thus, implementing relevant feedbacks and suggestions before the season starts is vital for business. Also, if you take customer’s advice, then you are improving yourself for your users. Besides, consumers feel valued if you use their suggestion and they stick with you just because of that. In this age, being customer centric has its perks.
10. Have a quick return policy and an on time delivery system
People hesitate to buy from an online store for two main reasons: bad/ambiguous return policy and failure to deliver on time. These are some of the hurdles that companies must eradicate if they want to make the most of the holiday sales.
For instance, 51% of shoppers look for free return shipping when they buy from online stores.
If your store does not provide this relatively important and fundamental feature, then you might lose out on potential shoppers. Just try to pacify your shoppers with the guarantee of hassle-free exchange or return. The help will allow your users to relax and shop with you with even more enthusiasm.
Also, during the holiday season, on-time delivery may be a challenge, as some logistic companies may not provide continuous and flawless service. Hence, double-check with your shippers before you provide the customer with estimation on the delivery time.
You do not want to short-less the customer.
So, gear up, say Ho-Ho and get your online store ready for the upcoming holiday season this year. We are sure that these pointers will help you to provide an even better service to all your shoppers than what they got last year around.
Sawaram Suthar is CMO at Acquire, and also a founder of Jagat Media, a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune. Anyone can find him on @sawarams.