Preparing your E-commerce Store for The Holiday Shopping Season
November 25, 2016
It’s finally here. America’s busiest shopping day of the year – Black Friday.
As people start crowding outside malls at 5 in the morning and shop owners begin their preparations to counter any possible riots, the ones who are still mulling over the delectable turkey meal they had in the previous night too participate in this shopping frenzy by going through the massive number of deals available in the online stores.
Hang on a bit-
If you factor-in the growth of online marketplaces and smartphones, and consider the chance that some shoppers actually want to buy the stuff they pick and would prefer to avoid injuries (yes, we’ve seen the worst of Black Friday sales), then the probability of people thronging online stores increases manifold.
Overall, holiday sales for online stores grew by 4% last year.
In the light of the above figures, you might want to keep reading for our suggestions to increase the number of hits your e-commerce store gets this holiday season.
Preparation is Key – Analyze available data
This is as basic as it gets – you cannot build successful strategy and tactics without understanding your targets.
Keeping that in mind, gather and analyze data from past years and start preparing the charts – expected sales and orders, inventory, shipping and delivery and support team requirements. You must also factor in the expected growth when counting these numbers.
You should be informed of the type of products that are trending and maintain the inventory accordingly.
For example, toys are a common choice for gifting during Christmas while people will buy almost anything that they can get their hands on for Black Friday.
You should also take note of what your competitors are doing and follow the trends on forums, communities and other social channels to update yourself with the most popular requests from potential customers.
This analysis will greatly helping in hitting the right spot between demand and supply, which essentially is what commerce is all about.
Get your SEO right
Imagine you can have every product that has ever been in existence, and you still cannot generate leads because your site isn’t listed in search engines.
Badly done SEO can be a nightmare for the e-commerce stores which may (actually) have everything that a customer can ever demand.
Hence, it is important that e-commerce stores get this part of their business right-
From a fast loading website to a well detailed product list.
If your site already has these features, then-
Congratulations, you got part one right.
The content on your site needs to be optimized in order to be indexed for the appropriate keywords; you may also have to review your SEO strategy to achieve better conversions.
As always, content is ‘King’, holiday specific content will push your site rankings further up.
Another thing to take care of is voice search.
As we’ve previously discussed, voice search has seen a rapid growth, and with products like Amazon Alexa, we can assure you that a lot of holiday shopping will be around voice-based queries.
And get the news out
Social media channels, e-mail and mobile marketing, all will have roles to play in the number of sales you make this year.
It is estimated that 1 in 7 people check Facebook on a daily basis.
When you add the numbers for Twitter and Google Plus (yes, it is still a thing), you have a significant share of the world’s population to target.
Getting the word out on social media will bring in a large number of new customers and keep your regular clients up-to-date.
E-mail and SMS marketing campaigns will also help in generating more leads.
While most of the people on your mailing and messaging lists will be the customers who already know about you or have subscribed to your mailing list, it is important to invite them over to browse your updated catalog for the season.
And now that we are talking about mailing lists, offering incentives to customers can also help you further build your subscribers’ list.
Offer more to the customers
Your customers are probably the most important part of the entire sales process, and you have to make sure that they feel the same way.
Offering more than just heavy discounts can help you build better relations with your customers which eventually aids you in generating more sales.
For instance, in 2015, Target offered free shipping on online orders of all sizes which resulted in an increase of 3% for average order size, based on a report by Slice Intelligence, an e-commerce analytics.
Variety in payment channels, along with a proper return, exchange and refund policy can go a long way in building users’ trust by reducing any difficulties they might face while shopping online.
If you know people, you’ll realize that a lot of us believe in the word-of-mouth, and hence, a good user experience is essential to garner more attention (and leads).
Don’t forget your mobile clients
And we are serious about that.
Mobile has been growing at the speed of light, and if you continue to ignore it, you’ll be losing a lot of ground (and customers).
Customers will be using mobile and voice search in large numbers this time around, and a smooth and fast mobile website will improve their experience and your sales significantly.
Over the last one year, Google has laid a lot of stress on the importance of mobile-friendly websites, which are an essential part of a good user experience and SEO.
And what a mobile website can do, a mobile app can do that even better.
So this holiday season may be the right time for you to have your new mobile app developed.
Manage your investments
This is another part where getting it ‘exactly right’ matters.
You will not want to blow your budget in the hope of generating more sales.
With a number of options for your e-commerce platform such as paid advertising, creative content, website and mobile app development and social marketing, you must figure out exactly where to invest your money and allocate funds accordingly.
Paid Marketing or PPC offers great value when used properly with well-formatted and perfectly-timed ads.
Adding callouts, reviews, ratings and price to snippets can generate better click-through rates for your ads.
Ads on social media are another excellent option to invest in.
Facebook page ads can increase the leads you generate over your social channels as your targeting gets more specific for your niche community.
Final words of advice
A fine-tuned website with well-organized product lists, a recommendation engine and a frictionless purchase experience are important for a good user experience.
Your social channels, SEO and paid advertising campaigns will help you garner more attention and CTR, while a good experience on mobile holds more importance as more users discover and interact with your site over mobile.
Tracking your success with analytics programs can help you understand user behavior on your site, identify the popular products and much more- all of which contribute towards improving a user’s interaction with your website.
Ultimately, it is the user’s experience of shopping from your e-commerce website which is the decisive factor for the sales you make this holiday season.