With the 2015 holiday season right around the corner, eCommerce businesses that want to be rolling in green on Black Friday are busy getting ready for an influx of holiday shoppers. The National Retail Association projects online sales to increase 7 to 10 percent this year, and eCommerce companies are hoping they’ll be able to cash-in on what may be the biggest growth year for the industry since 2011.
Of course, success depends on much more than hope. From updating your website to optimizing order fulfillment to optimizing marketing, you have a lot to do if you expect to succeed during the holiday season. Let’s take a look at 7 ways to help ensure you achieve your sales goals this year.
- Optimize for mobile. Mobile eCommerce grew by 28 percent in 2014—more than twice the 13 percent growth rate of desktop eCommerce. With over 50 percent of all online shopping occurring on smartphones and tablets, you’re virtually guaranteed to lose customers if your website isn’t mobile-friendly by this holiday season. There’s still time to implement responsive design and to make your emails responsive.
- Make sure pages load quickly. During the busy holiday season, having slow-loading product pages is a sure-fire way to ensure users abandon your site. Forty percent of visitors will leave if they don’t load within three seconds, and 79 percent of your customers won’t return if they’re unhappy with your site’s load time. You can combat this by implementing traffic management and optimization tools to alert you of downtime and sluggish performance. Check out the new New Relic extension to help you pinpoint potential performance bottlenecks.
- Make it personal. Personalizing your content and online experience to each individual user according to his or her history of interests, behaviors, and transactions can go a long way towards increasing sales this holiday season. You can put your user data to work by identifying your high-CLV (customer lifetime value) customers so you can segment your email list and send more personalized, targeted promotions.
- Integrate social media. Adding social sharing buttons to your product pages is an easy and effective way to get your products in front of your customers’ followers on social media. Making products shareable on sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ essentially turns your satisfied customers into salespeople that their social circles trust. Engage prospects and customers on social media and promote your special offers for the holiday season.
- Simplify the checkout process. The average online shopping cart abandonment rate is a whopping 69 percent—a rate you can avoid this holiday season by making the checkout process easy, intuitive, brief, and secure. You can do this by allowing for guest checkout (i.e., not requiring a user to create an account), showing a progress bar, only asking for essential personal information, accepting multiple payment options, auto-filling fields when possible, and reinforcing trust with security badges.
- Offer free shipping. Shipping was the #1 reason for shopping cart abandonment last holiday season. According to a recent Comscore study, free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions on eCommerce sites. Nearly 60 percent of shoppers are willing to add more products to their cart to qualify for free shipping, over 80 percent are willing to wait an additional two days for delivery if shipping is free, and nearly 70 percent require free returns shipping to complete the purchase.
- Focus on content marketing. Many online retailers ignore the many benefits content marketing provides to attract more qualified prospects and convert more customers. Write and publish helpful tip lists, gift guides, and other content to position your website as a reputable resource for holiday shopping and industry expertise. In addition to building customer trust, regularly adding high-quality content to your site attracts Google’s attention so you can increase visibility as well.
From going mobile to getting social, now’s the time to prepare your eCommerce business for the 2015 holiday season. This year promises to be a big one for holiday sales, as long as you dedicate the time and resources necessary to delight your customers and outperform your competitors. Follow the tips above to make sure you’re counting higher revenues when the holiday shopping season ends—not counting the mistakes you need to correct for next year.
Need eCommerce help to succeed this holiday season and for years to come? Speak with a specialist to learn more about implementing a flexible eCommerce solution that streamlines your entire operation and grows your business.