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Category Archives: preparing for the holiday shopping season

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.

Cyber Monday 2017 – Smashing the Records of Years Past!

 

The holiday rush is on – The results for Cyber Monday are in and it’s is ANOTHER Record Breaking year for ecommerce!

By: Catherine Perry

Unbelievable numbers are being reported not only for Cyber Monday shopping, but also throughout the Thanksgiving weekend! I was just reading our blog for Cyber Monday 2016 and, like last year, we have record breaking numbers to talk about – yoo hoo!

Thanksgiving Weekend Ecommerce Shopping Shows Explosive Growth

Online shopping continues to grow at an explosive rate and is in high gear this holiday shopping season! According to the latest data, collected by Adobe Digital Insights at 11:47 p.m. November 27, 2017, “Cyber Monday [was] projected to hit a new record as the largest online sales day in history with $6.59 billion by the end of the day.” This number indicates that sales increased by 16.8% over the same period in 2016. Their reporting showed that Black Friday came in at $5.03 billion and Thanksgiving Day at $2.87 billion in revenue.
Based on an email from Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, an analyst for the market research firm Forrester, the Washington Post reported that sales growth from Thanksgiving through Sunday, November 26 2017 topped their growth estimate of 12 percent. And, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) as reported in the same Washington Post article, “holiday spending is expected to increase as much as 4% this year, to $680 billion.” The NRF will release final results numbers on 11/28/2017.
Adobe reports that the holiday shopping season thus far, which is November 1 – 27, has driven a total of “$50 billion in online revenue, a 16.8% increase.” They predict that this will be the “first-ever holiday season to break $100 billion in online sales!”
Wow! These numbers are incredible and great news for all of our ecommerce business owners! There has never been a better time to be in the online retail industry.

Mobile Leads Online Shopping

What is leading the online retail sales? Mobile devices are. Mobile devices set a new record, showing 47.4% of visits, with 24.1% on smartphones and 9% on tablets. Here is the breakdown:
  • Smartphone traffic grew 22.2% year-over-year
  • Smartphone revenue grew 39.2% (totaling $1.59 billion) year-over-year
  • Mobile transactions are closing at a 12% higher rate as compared to Cyber Monday 2016
  • Apple iOS leads with an average order value of $123 in comparison to Google Android at $110
Mickey Mericle, VP of Marketing and Customer Insights at Adobe, is quoted as saying that using smartphones to shop and buy is becoming the “new norm and can be attributed to continued optimizations in the retail experience on mobile devices and platforms.” As this trend grows, consumers are becoming more savvy and efficient in their shopping. And, of course, the millennials are a big reason for the explosive growth in shopping via mobile, “with 75% expecting to shop via their smartphone,” Mericle says.

What It Means for Ecommerce Website Owners

This means tremendous opportunity for ecommerce website owners. Consumers are shopping around looking for the best products and top-notch service, not simply the best deals. The total customer experience is what is important. Price and shipping costs are definitely under scrutiny, there is no question about it. But, it is still a wide open playing field with service and security being a huge concern for online shoppers.
Shoppers want not only fast, as well as,  smooth transactions. They want to be able to click and find the products they want to purchase in a fast, convenient way. This is why it is important to have an ecommerce business that is 100% responsive design website, that is well organized and offers online shoppers a variety of products to fit their needs. Great customer service is imperative. Online shopping has affected the expectation of the customer. This stands to reason because you’re not standing in front of someone in a store when you are shopping online, so your trust is built on the service you receive. (See www.invespcro.com’s article “The Importance of Providing a Great Customer Experience [Infographic]” for more information.)
Small business owners are in a position to give consumers the one-on-one attention they want.
This past weekend, Fortune reported that Macy’s had a “massive slow down” due to credit card and gift card processing on Black Friday. This was a setback that could hamper its sales significantly and possibly “lose the department store chain massive amounts of money at the start of the holiday shopping season.”

Be Sure Your Business is READY for the Holidays!

If you already own an ecommerce business, we strongly suggest that you have your business ready for the holiday season.  You are in an industry that is growing tremendously and you need to do the work it takes to be noticed in the online marketplace.
What can you do? For starters, be sure you keep your business in front of your target market through Social Media Marketing and keep your website optimized for the search engines. Get your home page and categories in a festive mode (see our previous post for tips). Don’t wait to prepare your ecommerce business for any season of the year. Work hard all year long to ensure customers are shopping with you!

RELATED ARTICLE: 6 Tips to Prepare Your Online Business for the 2017 Holiday Shopping Season 

Here are some tips to capitalize on this holiday season for your business:
  • Be sure your shopping cart is in good working order for a positive customer experience
  • Engage social media marketing to brand your business and advertise
  • Reach out to your consumers through emails – newsletter marketing is key to staying in front of your customers
  • Entice your customers with special offers – for example – coupons with dollar amount off when purchase a certain amount; percentage off total purchase; and of course, free shipping on orders of a certain amount
  • Optimize for the search engines
  • Tighten up your pricing and shipping costs
  • Decorate your website for the festive season so you look the part
We hope these Thanksgiving weekend numbers have excited you for the potential of online shopping this holiday season. Continue to steadily work at it and you will reap the rewards!

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