For many merchants, the holiday season is the biggest when it comes to sales. It’s when customers are in a festive mood and plan to spend more than they usually would. But getting potential customers to your online storefront is only half the battle. In a previous post, I described conversion rates as a numerical measure of potential customers that proceed to purchase from your eCommerce channel. It is the percentage of total visitors that end up buying from you.
Traffic, however, doesn’t necessarily mean sales. It’s a busy season, full of increased competition and advertising. You need to spend time to ensure that your customers can and will purchase from you. As you gear up for the holiday season, here are some helpful tips to increase conversion rates and grow holiday sales
1) Reward Your Customers
You can incentivize your customers to purchase more by rewarding your best customers. Throughout the holiday shopping season, consumer spending increases. They are spending more at this time because they are in the holiday spirit. You can ensure that their desire to shop translates into increased conversion for your store by providing incentives.
Relatively minor rewards such as providing free shipping on orders above a certain amount or earning a gift card on a minimum purchase can go a long way into gently nudging customers into spending just a little bit more. Ensuring that the rewards are easy to understand and use can incentivize your customers to purchase more and also spread the word to other potential customers – generating more traffic, and ultimately conversions, over the holidays.
A common space to provide a post-purchase reward – such as a coupon – and entice additional purchasing is on the order confirmation page. In addition to offering immediate deals or recommending similar items (such as related products or upselling), you can maximize engagement with your customers through this space by prompting them to interact with your store through social media or subscribe to a newsletter with the aim of receiving discounts before the general public on their future purchases.
In addition, you can offer other incentives upon purchase such as free gift wrapping for the holidays. Your customers, though willing to spend more also want to stretch their dollar. Providing such incentives can really increase your conversion rate and average order value.
2) Prompt Your Customers
Customers are likely to responded when a sense of urgency is conveyed – such as some promotion being offered for a limited time during your holiday sale. Over the holidays, shoppers will already be shopping with a heightened sense of urgency and you can benefit by leveraging that and enhancing it by encouraging your customers not to delay.
Ensure that the promotions listed on your store or through direct engagement opportunities like social media or a newsletter are written clearly and displayed prominently. Semantics and psychology should be an important consideration. They should trigger quick specific actions (such as Buy One, Get One Free) and function as a call to action.
Consumers are shopping around for where best to spend their dollar. By providing such discounts and prompting calls to action you can encourage hesitant customers to buy and encourage them to stay on your store. Emphasizing that an offer is only “for a limited time” or “while supplies last” or highlighting remaining stock can boost potential customers toward conversion.
3) Be Proactive and Engage Your Customers
You’re competing against an entire online ecosystem of fellow retailers. By reviewing your site beforehand and ensuring that your site is clean, clear, user friendly, and professional you can increase your brand loyalty and sense of security for your online store and gain an edge during the holiday shopping period. Demonstrating that you truly understand your customers can attract them and boost conversions.
Discounts & Deals
As previously stated, discounts and deals are a great way to incentivize potential customers towards conversion. Before your big holiday sale and promotions evaluate which type of discounts tend to give better results for you. For instance, does ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘50% off’ resonate better with your target consumer?
Provide Shipping Information
Providing detailed shipping information can show that you know how to get purchases where they need to go. Be clear about shipping details, pricing considerations, carriers, and delivery promises. Even large, successful retailers such as Amazon note the potential for shipping variances during national holidays on their site. For your existing and returning customers, you can send reminders through email and social media to outline important shopping and shipping deadlines to ensure customers receive their purchases before or by the holidays.
Clear Return Policy
Your Return Policy will likely be one of the most visited non-product pages on your store site over the holidays. Visitors to your store are ready to buy, but they also want confidence and security in the still burgeoning eCommerce retail space. Before the holidays, be sure to review your return policy and enhance it, if necessary, to ensure that is easy to understand and conveys a positive tone so that potential customers will feel confident and comfortable in purchasing from you.
You expect your store to be busy over the holidays, and your customers expect that there will be someone available to answer their questions promptly. As in brick-and-mortar retail, good customer service, or lack thereof, can make or break a sale. Your staff should be able to gently persuade a potential customer into a purchase. Ensure that you have enough support to handle all the incoming customer service inquiries over the holiday season promotion and that it is easily accessible and prominent. In addition, customers tend to respond better to live, real-time chat support.
4) Go Mobile
New York-based independent market research company, eMarketer, predicted that eCommerce spending in the United States would increase about 15.5% year over year during the 2013 holiday season. Mobile commerce would account for approximately 16% of this increase. Further more, a recent 2013 holiday shopping study from Deloitte revealed that during holiday shopping, shoppers will use their smartphone and other mobile devices for the following:
69% of consumers will shop online
58% will compare prices
58% will obtain product information
57% will read customer reviews
52% will make a purchase
We’ve previously discussed the prevalence of mobile commerce and the importance of enabling mobile customers to assist in increasing your store’s conversion rate. It’s vital that you engage your eCommerce business with mobile consumers during the holiday shopping season.
5) Learn from Traditional Storefronts, As They Learn From Us
According to the New York Times, in 2013, retail increased their efforts to attract reluctant shoppers during the holiday season. Sales and promotions started earlier and lasted longer. Taking a page from eCommerce and social media, some brick-and-mortars offered flash sales – traditionally, when an eCommerce store would offer a single or handful of products at a discount for limited period of time. In the digital realm, you can further this concept by making the discounts even more time-sensitive and putting the word out through social media.
More attention was being paid in brick-and-mortar stores to decoration and displaying large, colourful ads. This is also particularly well suited to the digital space. Having a holiday skin or theme ready-to-go, even if only a minor variation, can help put your customers in the holiday and purchasing spirit. Banner spaces can be quickly updated and you can leverage newsletters and social media to further decorate your online store front.
Make your online store stand out
Adapting and re-imagining common retailing standards such as when, what, where, and how a promotion occurs, appreciating the benefits of mobile commerce, understanding, encouraging, and rewarding your customers for purchases can help your store stand out in the competitive eCommerce space during the busy holiday season and turn increased traffic into real sales.