Each year, countless eCommerce brands count on the holiday season to bring in a new customer base and generate a surge in sales.
But did you know that this year, successfully navigating the holiday season will be more valuable than ever? Last year, retail sales increased by 8.3% during the holiday season – more than double the average growth of 4% during the past five years.
The holiday shopping market is growing, and it’s growing fast. Take advantage of what will likely be even higher growth this year by using the following six eCommerce secrets to give you an edge over competitors.
1. Prepare for Higher Traffic
During the peak of the holiday season, your website may get the highest amount of traffic that it receives all year. Make sure that your site is equipped to handle the surge of visitors.
Check that your inventory is stocked. It’s fully possible that you may sell out of the majority of your products over the course of a few days. Once that happens, you’ll need the resources to package and ship orders without delay.
Test out your website to see its reliability. Make sure pages load smoothly and loading times stay under a few seconds. The last thing you want is a site crash during an influx of new visitors.
2. Optimize Checkout
Holiday season shoppers aren’t just visiting your website. They likely have quite a few purchases to make. That means, when they reach your checkout page, they need the process to be as streamlined as possible.
Optimize your checkout process before the holiday season so you don’t lose any customers to issues that you could’ve avoided.
Shorten the process to one page and only ask for the information that you need. Create a guest checkout option for new customers who want to place an order. Allow for several payment options so customers can use their method of choice to complete the transaction.
Look at your website speed to see how long the checkout process would take for a new customer. If it’s longer than a minute or two, find ways to lower the amount of time.
And remember to send a clear confirmation email after the purchase is complete. It should tell your customer when to expect their shipment.
3. Have a Clear Shipping and Returns Policy
Some of your customers may be doing their holiday shopping weeks in advance, while others might wait until the last minute to find gifts for their loved ones. Either way, all of your customers will appreciate clear information outlining when to expect their shipment and how to return it.
As the holidays approach, advertise your shipping options to frantic shoppers with a pop-up notification or a banner at the top of your eCommerce website. If you can guarantee their order will arrive within 72 hours of purchase, tell them! A fast turn-around time will be one of your best assets for holiday shoppers.
For those shoppers who want to try a few products before deciding which one to keep, a clearly outlined returns policy is necessary. Make sure to include returns information in the item description and on the checkout page.
During the holiday season, it’s best to have a return policy that’s more lenient than normal. Doing so will humanize your eCommerce company and generate trust among customers.
4. Boost Customer Service
To support your expected increase in website traffic and orders, you need a team of customer service ready to help customers quickly and kindly. During the holiday season, aim for responding to customers within 24 hours.
Be available through phone, email, and social media. If possible, create a live chat button on your website for customers needing help in real-time. Include a picture of the customer support agent in the chat to personalize the experience – and don’t forget to make all contact information intuitive for customers to find on your site.
Hold your company accountable for its actions by asking customers to leave reviews and testimonials. Usually, shoppers will leave reviews if they have either a notably positive or a terribly negative experience. If you prioritize customer needs, you’ll likely receive good feedback.
5. Bundle Products
Take advantage of the increased customer traffic and convert it into a higher average value order (AVO) by bundling products. Group certain popular items together and offer them at a discount. Popular ways of doing this involve displaying complimentary products underneath the viewed item with phrases like “Complete the Look” and “Frequently Bought Together.”
For even higher returns, use the scarcity principle to encourage customers to buy bundles. Market the bundle as an exclusive offer available to a limited number of customers. Display the number of bundles left when items are low in stock.
The best way to create a product bundle on Shopify is to use the Bold Bundles app. If you plan on using product bundles for your Shopify store, then this app is a must-download. Follow this link to get started with the bold bundles app.
6. Include User-Generated Content
It’s easy to imagine how we’d use an item when we’re shopping for ourselves. It becomes more difficult to envision all of a product’s potential uses when we’re buying it for someone else.
User-generated content (UGC) adds an authentic feel to products on your site by confirming that customers enjoy using the items. Displaying a few UGC photos or images underneath the professionally taken photos of a product will allow customers to imagine how their loved ones could use the item, too.
UGC can be a great way to generate social media engagement during the holiday season, too. Encourage customers to tag your brand in pictures of the items, and repost them. Create a contest: whichever user gets the most likes on a picture of your product will receive a gift card.
6 eCommerce Secrets to Successfully Navigating the Holidays ( quick video )
More Game-Changing eCommerce Secrets
Take your Shopify store to the next level this holiday season by incorporating these six tips into your online brand. By digging a little deeper than your competitors into digital tricks of the trade, you’ll give your eCommerce brand the edge it needs. To see our full guide on increasing your average order value read our article at this link.
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