By Alisha Shibli
Holiday seasons are always a special time but the 2020 holidays are slated to be unlike any other, just like the rest of this tumultuous year. As much of the year was spent battling a global pandemic, people will be looking to reconnect with their loved ones, even if it’s virtually or through gifts.
For businesses, too, this season is the time to recover from the economic lull and loss in revenue. Most of the holiday shopping will still be online as people remain wary of visiting stores and some businesses continue to keep their brick-and-mortar establishments closed or open with limited access.
While the way of shopping changes, the customer expectations remain the same, if not more demanding. They still expect expert guidance, great deals, personal attention, and everything else that they expect when they shop at a physical store.
Here are 5 ways in which you can meet those expectations in the best possible way and increase your eCommerce sales in the process.
1. Upgrade your website
There is no substitute for easy and seamless shopping coupled with great product recommendations and a festive look and feel when it comes to boosting your online sales. If you’ve been contemplating an upgrade for your website, don’t delay it further and give your customers the gift of the best shopping experience this holiday season can offer.
Update your design
Spread the holiday cheer by creating festive banners and incorporating other holiday-themed elements in your website’s design. For instance, for Christmas, you can use red and green colors along with elements such as Christmas trees, snowflakes, and stockings. For Thanksgiving and New Year’s, you can use colors like yellow, orange, and red along with animated fireworks or twinkling lights.
Improve loading speed
People have a lot of shopping to accomplish in very little time. If your website takes longer than 1-2 seconds to load, you have potentially lost that customer to your competitor.
Do a thorough speed check after you have uploaded your new designs and products to ensure that the pages load quickly. Keep your site’s requests to a minimum, compress all file sizes, and consider changing your host if your current one is unable to bear the burden of your website’s holiday updates.
Offer easy browsing
Divide your products into easy-to-browse categories such as popularity, segments (home, clothing, appliances, gifting), and price range (best gifts under $20, home upgrade under $50) to help customers find what they need.
Enhance product examination features such as zooming, 360-degree views, features, how-to guides, reviews, and comparisons to replicate an offline store-like experience.
Register a domain name
Acquiring a new domain name for your holiday shopping page is a great way to boost your branding. You can use this unique URL to redirect people from your social media pages, content on your blog, or other websites and emails. Consider these domain names as examples that you can use instead of clunky links or bit.ly links that add nothing to your brand: perfectholiday.store, giftguide.online, christmaspromo.online, and so on.
Even if your products are on other eCommerce websites such as Amazon, you can use unique links in your promotions to boost your own brand rather than the seller. For instance, go to www.kindle.store and see where it leads you.
2. Enable and enhance the mobile shopping experience
People are often browsing for products on their mobile phones while they are commuting, during their lunch break at work or when they have some free time at home (especially before going to bed).
As an astute retailer, you should be ready to swoop in with a quick and easy buying process as soon as a person browsing your products decides to buy something. Don’t wait for them to get to their computer to make the purchase, during this time they might change their mind.
Mobile apps offer several advantages to shoppers as compared to eCommerce websites such as personalized content, easy shopping facilitated by mobile features like camera and GPS, and instant updates.
Businesses can utilize these advantages to boost their mobile sales by providing updates on holiday-specific deals and collections and make it easier for customers to browse and buy.
Social media shops
With Facebook Shops, people can purchase products on a particular brand’s Facebook or Instagram page itself. This is a great way for eCommerce companies to boost impulse buying. A person sees something on their feed that they like and they can purchase it instantly.
Optimizing website for mobile
Apart from lightning-fast speed and clearly visible graphics and fonts, your mobile website should offer convenient search and checkout and high visibility for your best offers and popular products.
3. Embrace automated personalization
Selling great products at competitive prices is a given but it is the personalized attention that will make your customers’ interaction with your brand memorable and secure their loyalty.
Automation and personalization seem diametrically opposite at face value. But in today’s highly digitalized world, using online tools to track and analyze your customers is the only most effective way of getting to know them and being intuitive about their needs and behavior.
Encourage your customers to create accounts by convincing them of your sign-up benefits, such as personalized product curations, members-only discounts, pre-order options, and easy tracking of purchase history.
This will help you recommend the right products to the right people, follow up on abandoned shopping carts, and bring more focus to your marketing efforts.
Social media analytics
Use social media tools such as Facebook Ads Manager and Instagram Insights to direct your ads and posts towards the most relevant audience. These tools provide valuable user data such as their location and the time when they are the most active, which you can use to schedule your posts for maximum engagement.
Tracking user journeys
Use Google Analytics to track where traffic is coming from on your product pages, number of views, and time spent. You can even opt for tools such as Crazy Egg and Optimizely that tell you which part of the page people spent more time on and where their cursor was before they moved to another page, and make changes to your website accordingly.
4. Publish holiday-themed content
Taking the effort to create more meaningful connections with your customers will not only boost your sales during the holiday season but also hold you in good stead in the longer term.
Come up with a holiday-themed content calendar to highlight your holiday offerings, provide guidance and assistance to your customers, and spread some festive cheer.
Shopping and gift guides
People are scampering to buy gifts for their near and dear ones but they are also looking to make big purchases that they have been putting off all year long, such as a bigger family car, a better mobile phone, a smart TV or new furniture for their living room.
Make their lives easier by publishing simple guides such as gifts under $20, last-minute party planning, putting together your festive attire, or best budget phones on your blog. Add relevant calls to action and product links to navigate their user journey.
You can even combine your holiday-themed content into a Holiday Special newsletter for your subscribers with added members-only content and special deals.
Apart from your holiday blog content and promotion of popular products, make sure you include other high-engagement posts in your social media holiday calendar.
For instance, you can run a holiday photo contest, a giveaway, or even publish simple posts that require minimum effort but give you an opportunity to interact with your customers in a fun way, such as questions (What’s your favorite thing about the holiday season?) and polls (Which of these outfits would you wear this season).
5. Improve customer service
Fun and tension both run high during the holiday season considering how time-sensitive the purchases are.
Everyone wants to know if their products will be delivered in time for the festivities, what the exchange and return policies are, and how they can use promo codes.
Your team must be present and alert at all times to guide customers at every step of the way.
- Include a holiday special FAQ page to answer the most common questions people may have.
- Add live chat options to answer people’s questions as soon as possible without having to make them go through long wait times over the phone.
- Increase the strength of your customer service team to deal with the increase in the volume of customer questions.
- Wherever possible, include tutorials and video demos in the product pages so that people can acquaint themselves with the product before they buy.
- Give people multiple options to connect with you. These include phone, email, chat, or contact form.
- Create a highly responsive social media team that can address issues raised over DMs or in comments.
- No matter how stressful things get, always be patient and friendly when listening to customers, even when they are angry. Don’t get defensive and focus on offering solutions to their grievances. At the same time, always be realistic and transparent about issues pertaining to delivery. For instance, don’t promise next-day delivery unless you are 100% sure about it.
Holidays are all about love and celebration. Everyone needs a little bit of holiday magic, even more so this year. Use this time not just to resurrect your business but to show your customers that you are truly here to serve them in the most caring and efficient way possible.