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Preparing Your Online Business For Holiday Shopping

By: Shelly Lowder

6 Tips & Strategies To Prepare Your Online Business For The Holiday Shopping Season

The weather certainly doesn’t feel like the holidays are approaching and that makes it even harder to think about the countdown to the largest shopping season of the year.  Not to overwhelm you but there are less than 3 months until Christmas, so if you aren’t thinking about your plan and how the holidays will impact your business NOW is the time to start.
Consumers are shopping earlier and earlier so it is important to get your plans in place now to capitalize on those shoppers that are already searching for good deals and the perfect gift.  Consumers spent $108.15 billion online in November and December in 2017, a 14.7% increase over the 2016 holiday season, according to Adobe Digital Insights and the prediction is even better for 2018.
Planning for business is one of the most important things you can do right now.  We know you are wearing many hats in your online business but we suggest taking time to prepare so that you can reap the rewards of a well laid out plan.
We know it can be difficult to think of everything so we have put together six tips and strategies we suggest you do to prepare your online business for holiday shopping to help you make the best of this holiday season!

 

Update Inventory on Your Website

Hopefully, you keep your inventory up to date on your site but we suggest doing an inventory sweep to make sure all products are up to date.  You want to make sure that you have every opportunity to fill all orders when they come in. We also recommend making sure you stay on top of your inventory each week or even daily with your vendors.  This is a busy time for everyone and products quickly sell out so you want to reflect that on your site so that you are managing expectations with your customers and not promising something you can’t fulfill.

 

Set Up Abandoned Cart Emails

Abandoned cart emails are a great way to get back in front of customers that changed their mind at the last minute.  Maybe the customer was trying to purchase on their phone or became distracted and did not complete the transaction. By sending them a reminder email about the product(s) they forgot in their cart you are not only one step closer to a sale but you also have the opportunity to offer them a discount on their purchase.  This builds credibility with your customers and it also keeps your website top of their mind.

 

Reach Customers Through Social Media

Social media is key to reaching online customers.  It is a great strategy to drive traffic to your website and is a great way to remain relevant to your customers.  Consistency is also key with any social media efforts. A social media plan goes hand in hand with your promotional plan that you are offering.  Promote any new products, sale events, or exciting news through your social media outlets. Not everyone sees every post so it’s ok to post on multiple social media accounts and post often.  You want to stand out from the crowd during this time because customers are bombarded with companies trying to grab their attention. You do not want to just promote your website and products but also include important information and inspirations to show potential customers the validity of what you are offering them. A great way to do this is through video marketing. You can create an information or instructional video on how to use a product or why a certain product(s) will make the perfect gift this holiday season.
Why social media? Well, it will help you reach a vast number of potential customers especially the Gen Xers and millennials. According to Salesforce, 30% of Gen X and 48% of millennial consumers indicated that they will use social to find out about products to purchase. Studies also show that 69% of Facebook users visit to find discounts and share information with friends. Shoppers also love to post about the gifts they receive on social media. Therefore, social media is a great platform to reach customers before and after the holiday season!

 

Create Excitement with Festive Images On your Site

Just as brick-and-mortar stories play holiday music through the speakers to set the mood for holiday shopping you need to set the mood on your online store. Having a holiday theme on your website is a great way to make your online store look and feel different.  Plus, customers will love the festive feel! Create banners and fun elements that will attract customers as they come to your site. One thing to note, don’t over do it and make changes to categories or the navigation.  This will only confuse your customers. You can make subtle changes that are festive and bring in the holiday cheer. If you need a little extra help to enhance your business – check out the ecommerce design services we offer at Pure-Ecommerce.

 

Offer Competitive Pricing with Promotions

Getting your ideas on paper will go along the way as you start to plan your business over the next couple of months.  A promotional calendar is a great way to make the holidays less hectic and put you on the right track to having your best year yet.  For many retailers, the holidays represent as much as 30% of their sales. As you can see it’s important to have a plan and be consistent.  Think about products or categories that you can promote each day or each week. Create a banner that you change out on your website that leads customers to your promoted products and don’t forget to promote on social media. Make plans now for how you want to run your business during this busy time.  It is also important to offer discounts to stay competitive throughout the holiday season. Customers love incentives and a great way to give them savings is through a graduated coupon so the more they spend the more they save!

 

Evaluate Your Shipping and Return Policy
Shipping fees can make or break a sale.  Many customers expect free shipping and wait for companies to offer free shipping before buying from them.  In order to be competitive during the holidays, you need to evaluate your shipping policy and determine what you can afford to do. Choosing a few days to offer free shipping is an option if you have a product line that does not allow you to offer free shipping every day.  It is a good idea to offer free shipping on and around Black Friday and Cyber Monday as they are two very important days during the holiday season. You can promote your shipping policy on your website and also through social media to entice shoppers.
Having a good holiday return policy is also a great idea.  It’s easy to say no returns and leave it at that, however, this may deter shoppers from purchasing from you.  No return policies sometimes make shoppers reluctant to buy from online stores especially when buying gifts. It is best to evaluate your policy and be sure you know the policies of your vendors as well to ensure things run smoothly.
One other suggestion is to know the shipping cut off dates with your vendors. For example, when is the last date a vendor will accept orders and still ship it out in time for the holidays? Shipping times change during the holidays due to the amount of volume each vendor has so be sure and understand this so you can communicate with your customers. Things come up and delays happen but you never want to over promise and under deliver.

 

We hope these tips help you as you plan out your holiday season.   Develop a great plan and then focus on flawlessly executing your strategies.  Be creative with your ideas, be consistent with your efforts and be confident that the time and energy you spent planning will bring in many sales in the coming months.

A Peek Into The Future of The 2018 Ecommerce Holiday Season

 

By: Shelly Lowder

2018 Holiday Shopping Season Brings Exciting Times for E-commerce

The holiday shopping season is upon us so we wanted to give you a “peek” inside the predictions for this year’s e-commerce holiday shopping season. In 2017, Cyber Monday was another record breaker for online shopping.  According to Adobe Insights, digital transactions reached a record $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday. That is a 16.8 percent increase from a year ago and makes Cyber Monday the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. While the 2017 holiday e-commerce revenue climbed to $108.2 billion, an increase of 14.7 percent year over year.
 For 2018, the Deloitte Forecast is predicting e-commerce sales could reach as much as $134 billion this holiday season. This is a 17 to 22 percent increase over last year. They contribute this continued increase to “solid disposable personal income growth, which we expect will be in the 5 to 5.4 percent range”.
Consumers are looking for fast, convenient ways to shop without the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There are a million things to do during the holidays in addition to gift shopping, so anything that will help make the process a little easier is more than welcome.  Let’s take a look at 5 predictions for the 2018 Holiday Season that are sure to make this season the best yet!
  1. Shoppers Start Early

The early bird gets the worm, ok well maybe not the worm but they could possibly get the best holiday gifts.  Some consumers help ease the pains of holiday shopping by starting earlier. This helps with time management as well as the budget that we all know how it can get out of hand when you feel rushed to find those last minute gifts.  Statistics show that consumers are making purchases earlier and earlier and many start as early as October. These earlier purchases are predicted to help drive record online sales for the 2018 Holiday season.
  1. Black Friday and Cyber Monday Are Top Days for Holiday Sales

According to an Adobe Digital Insights report, in 2017 Black Friday, a single day represented 4.6 percent of the total U.S. retail revenue for the holiday season. Meanwhile, Cyber Monday represented 6.1 percent of the total holiday retail sales.
Cyber Monday is a big deal for e-commerce businesses and rightfully so.  Online shopping brings convenience and less stress. The thought of fighting the crowds to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list has shoppers rethinking their gift buying strategy and waiting for Cyber Monday or for their favorite store to offer online deals. By shopping online consumers are not limited to their local stores and product selection. The possibilities are endless as with a few clicks they have access to a much wider variety of products to complete their shopping list.
In 2018, it is predicted that the period between Thanksgiving Day (November 22) and Saturday, December 1 (the end of Cyber Monday week) will represent 37 percent of the total U.S. holiday retail sales.
If you own an e-commerce store, it’s time to get your game plan together and enhance your business to drive sales during this peak season.

  1. Mobile Shopping Will Continue to Grow

Mobile shopping is another convenient way to complete your holiday shopping.  It is predicted to make up about 52% of the total for 2018. Wow – that’s a big number!  Some experts even predict a rise in mobile shopping on Thanksgiving Day so that consumers can take advantage of sales but also spend time with their family.  What better way to do that than shopping from the convenience of your phone and having gifts shipped directly to your home.
If you have an online business, it’s important to make sure your website has a 100% responsive design so that you can take advantage of all those mobile shoppers.

4. Voice Shopping On the Rise

Digital voice-driven assistants is predicted to impact U.S. e-commerce sales during the 2018 Holiday season. According to the Pew Research Center in 2017, “46 percent of Americans have used some type of digital voice-driven device”. The increase in this method is being sparked by the use of Alexa. Everyone is trying to find new ways to make the Holiday shopping season more enjoyable. The use of voice shopping makes it easy to purchase gifts with using just a few words – giving shoppers a stress-free way to shop without the hassle.

5. Consumers Expect Fast, Free Shipping

Everyone loves free shipping and many consumers wait until free shipping is offered before making a purchase. It has become the norm during the holidays that shipping is free – people expect it. According to an AlixPartners survey, free shipping can make or break a retailer, with 96% of survey respondents saying that the availability of free shipping impacts their purchase decision, and 73% said that it has a great impact on their decision.
More than 70% of shoppers decide their shipping preference before checkout, and nearly 60% of shoppers browse for products based on their preferred shipping options.  About a quarter of shoppers (26%) will buy from a retailer that offers free shipping, even if they would pay a bit less to buy the same item from another retailer that imposes shipping charges.
Not only do shoppers want free shipping, but they also want their purchases fast.  The survey revealed that the maximum delivery time the average shopper will accept has fallen to 4.5 days, down from 5.5 in 2012.  AlixPartners said that to satisfy them, retailers are scrambling to expand their networks of warehouses and distribution centers.
Managing consumers expectations of shipping and delivery is crucial to make any e-commerce business successful.
It’s an exciting time for e-commerce businesses.  The online industry is growing leaps and bounds and is showing no signs of letting up.  If you own an e-commerce store, congratulations, what a great time to be in the online space. We hope you find ways to take advantage of these predictions and they lead to a record year.
If you have always wanted to own your own online business, take a look at some of the various internet business options that Pure Ecommerce has to offer.  Don’t let a great opportunity to fulfill your dreams pass you by.

 

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