For many online retailers, the holiday season comprises a sizeable chunk of their annual sales. But in 2010, sales numbers proved just how much a strapped economy affects holiday shopping budgets. With this year’s holiday season following another difficult year for Americans, value is ever-important to the customer. But even in tough times, retailers boast record sales by increasing marketing share. With the right e-commerce strategy, online retailers can guide the customer’s purchase path, attracting holiday shoppers and maximizing their shopping cart values. Here are the top 6 e-commerce tactics for the holidays:
1. Capture the Holiday Shopper: The first thing you want to ensure is that customers think of your site when they’re thinking of gifts-or at the very minimum, think about gifts when they’re on your site. Designate some prime real estate on your site that calls out specifically to holiday shoppers. The idea is to make gift buying easy for shoppers that had already planned to buy gifts on your site, and convert all other site visitors into potential holiday shoppers as well, using marketing tactics such as attractive gift deals and suggestions. There are many creative ways to do this. Many e-retailers, including Best Buy, J.Crew and Skymall have added gift sections to the navigation bar itself. J. Crew also lures shoppers with a “Gift of the Day” feature on the home page, while Best Buy’s home page promotes “Cyber Week Specials” to “give great gifts for less”.
2. Gift Guides: Maximizing the holiday shopper’s user experience by ensuring ease and engagement is key to maximizing holiday sales. Thus, digital leaders have sophisticated gift guides to suggest the perfect gift ideas for each holiday shopper. Amazon, for example, allows users to browse through gifts bundled for specific interest groups-from Mom and Dad to Co-worker and even “Someone with Everything”. Additionally, users can filter or cap a price range to show only suggestions within budget. Bottom line: The easier you make it to match your customer with the perfect gift, the higher the chances of a sale. And remember, you can always promote gift cards, too!
3. Wish Lists: If your site doesn’t have a wish list, now’s the time to add one. If it already has a wish list, now’s the time to promote it! Make sure your site has the functionality for users to share or send their wish list. This way, some of your most avid shoppers can easily send their friends and family your way.
4. Gift Wrapping: Promoting gift wrapping services is not only another subtle way to advertise your site to holiday shoppers, it also makes your gift offerings more valuable to many buyers. Offering affordable gift-wrapping services (or better yet-make it free as part of a promotion!) enhances the customer’s user experience by providing convenience. Further delight and engage customers by offering an array of fun wrapping and personalized messaging options.
5. Shipping Options: For the last-minute shopper (hint: this is a plentiful breed), expedited shipping is key. Offer a variety of shipping options, including guaranteed Christmas delivery by certain cutoff dates. Another important point: be reasonable about shipping costs, as this is the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment. According to Forrester, buyers see about 10% of their total order cost to be a reasonable charge for shipping.
6. Holiday Returns: Assure customers with an easy, clear return policy-and consider amending it to better fit holiday shoppers needs. Amazon, for example, has extended the return policy for the holidays, allowing all items purchased between November 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011 to be returned until January 31, 2012, and also has a comprehensive gift return policy. Making gift returns easy is a highly recommended best practice and it doesn’t have to mean giving back cash. Offer gift recipients the opportunity to exchange their gift or receive a store credit. Taking the extra step to get it right will win favor with both giver and recipient.
Read more: Reduce Gift Returns with Social Media
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