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eCommerce Holiday Optimization Tips to Send It This Year

You still have time for those last minute eCommerce Holiday Optimization implementations so you can totally SEND IT this year, find out how.

tips for ecommerce holiday optimization

If you’re like me, you’re probably putting things off to the last minute.

Not This Year!

When running an eCommerce business, peak selling season is about to hit, and prep time is NOW!

Last year, U.S. consumers spent $53.3 billion in online holiday sales, up from $46.55 billion in 2013. Analysts predict this year’s holiday season will have even higher sales.

But there is still time to hit some last minute eCommerce Holiday optimization to please your shoppers.

 

This season is primed to kick off with a stellar Black Friday / Cyber Monday combo.

Last year;

Thanksgiving and Black Friday online shopping ballooned to $7.9 billion in 2017 – a 17.9% year-over-year increase!

 

Cyber Week 2017 Trends

  • Thanksgiving Day saw the highest YoY increase in overall GMV; however, Cyber Monday remained the most popular day for making purchases over the five-day period.
  • Automotive retailers saw the highest average order value ($235.10), followed by retailers within the Sports & Outdoors ($143.50) and Home & Garden ($103.60) categories
  • Consumers in California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania made the most purchases for the second consecutive year
  • iPhone users spent 7.1% more during Cyber 5 than Android users

ecommerce holiday optimization tips

 

You should fully expect the eCommerce Holiday shopping frenzy to return in force.

Shoot, we’re not that far off from seeing Black Friday becoming a trillion dollar holiday:

black friday ecommerce money spent

Data Source: TheBalance.com

 

E-commerce retailers that make the shopping experience as simple and enjoyable as possible for customers are the ones who will reap the benefits of these record sale days.

Holiday shopping season is still a few weeks away, which gives you plenty of time to prepare your website with eCommerce Holiday optimization for the rush.

Optimize For Mobile

Walmart.com received almost 400 million page views on Thanksgiving Day alone in 2013, according to a company press release.

Granted, Walmart is the world’s largest retailer based on revenues and has an endless supply of resources. But there is one important lesson small and medium-sized companies can learn from Walmart as it pertains to their website.

The top reason potential customers leave a website and move onto the next one is bad navigation, according to web analytics firm KISSmetrics.

This is particularly the case for websites that display the same way on smartphone screens as they do on computer monitors. Optimizing your e-commerce website for easy mobile navigation is not only highly recommended, but essential if you want your piece of the holiday shopping pie.

Walmart has both mobile and desktop versions of its website.

The good news is that you don’t have to be Walmart to beat out your competition.

A recent report released by BaseKit has shown that a surprising 91% of small business’ websites are not optimized for mobile use.

 

Web Less Mobile Friendly in 2018 than 2017

Search Engine Journal recently published an interesting article indicating that even many businesses who thought that their website was mobile freindly – really wasn’t.

 

You’ve got a lot of options to help you easily create a separate mobile version of your website without losing any of the content.

Mofuse, Mobify, and Wirenode are just a few solutions to consider for this task. Customers will be re-directed to your new mobile website once the software determines it is being accessed from a mobile browser.

WordPress users can simply install a plugin like HandHeld Mobile Plugin or WP Mobile Edition. These apps detect when someone is accessing your website from a mobile device and displays it on the mobile theme you choose as opposed to your default desktop theme.

 

Again, don’t make the mistake of focusing your marketing efforts strictly on desktop visitors.

Failure to cater to the ever-growing demographic of mobile users may cost you tons of sales.

According to a recent Think With Google report, 54% of consumers plan to shop for products this holiday season on their smartphone or mobile device.

Mobile devices are now faster and more powerful than ever, allowing consumers to buy products with just a few basic steps.

responsive website

 

If you’re site isn’t mobile friendly yet, depending on the size of your store, you may still have time to convert your website to a responsive mobile friendly design. If you have a large store and most of your orders take place over the Holiday season, you may want to wait until the new year before taking on that challenge.

 

Streamline Your Virtual Store

3D cart developer

Whether you sell food, clothing, or auto parts, customers want their online shopping experience to be as close as possible to visiting a brick-and-mortar store.

You could always hire a web designer to completely re-vamp your site to display your products and accept payments in a seamless manner. But there are several ready to go eCommerce Holiday optimization solutions that can do all the work for you.

Shopify is one of the more popular solutions. It allows you to easily organize and display your products by category, accept credit cards, track order and respond directly to customer inquiries. There’s also a POS app for those with both physical and online stores. Micheal Packer, owner of Yonkers, New York-based Packer Shoes, told Internet Retailer that the Shopify POS app saves his in-store employees time and hassle because they always know the inventory count for every item in the store. They can also ring up customers from anywhere in the store right from their iPad.

Another great e-commerce solution is 3dcart, which unlike Shopify, offers unlimited plans without transaction fees. The platform includes marketing tools like a built in newsletter system, gift certificates, built-in SEO, rewards points, autoresponders and more.

Magento, WooCommerce, and Bigcommerce are some other e-commerce platforms to consider.

Live Chat

The 2013 GE Capital Major Purchase Shopper Study found that,

81 percent of consumers research products online before buying in store.

Consumer due diligence can be used to your advantage if you’re able to instantly communicate with them as they examine products on your website.

Live chat enables a pop-up window for real-time chat when it detects a potential customer on your website. You can answer any and all questions about the product they’re interested in and direct them to checkout thereafter.

A 2008 study conducted by Forrester Research for Wells Fargo reported high customer satisfaction and significant increases in sales for the bank after it started using live chat.

Olark, LiveChat, and Velaro are three options to consider for your website.

 

A Few more crazy simple steps to ramp up your e-commerce Holiday Optimization

 

Create a Promotional Calender

There’s no better way to optimize e-commerce sales for the Holidays than by creating a promotional calendar.

Basically, this is a schedule of each and every promotion that your store offers.

For instance, you may offer customers a flat 10% off promotion one week, a free shipping offer the next, and a buy-one-get-one-free offer the following week.

As noted by the folks at Shopify, there’s a holiday nearly every week in November and December, so take advantage of this by offering special holiday promotions and discounts.

 

Optimize Server for Increased Load

Don’t underestimate the increased traffic that your website will receive during the holidays.

E-commerce store owners who fail to optimize their servers for the increased load may suffer from outages – and this can cost you big bucks when it happens during the holidays. Check your web-hosting plan to ensure it’s capable of handling large amounts of traffic. If too many people attempt to visit your online store at once, it could overload the server, forcing your site to go offline.

 

Follow Through on Page Speed

If you’re running WordPress, you’ll want to try the a3 Lazy Load plugin optimized for images.

This is a much newer plugin and gets frequent updates from developers. It was created for broad mobile support for websites that run hundreds or thousands of images on a page.

It’s actually built on the Lazy load XT jQuery plugin which is a long-time trusted resource. This is hands down my favorite WordPress lazy loading optimization tool.

Saas Platforms such as BigCommerce provide the opportunity to pair up with Akamai, the leader in image compression right out of the gate.

Akamai Image Manager is only available for Stencil Themes on BigCommerce, so if you haven’t switched over yet, it’s time to take a look.

What’s Akamai Image Manager?

Akamai Image Manager is an automated image optimizer for device size to help your site load faster no matter the browser’s origin.

Plan Your Return Policy

With increased sales during the holidays, you’ll also be getting more returns.

Make sure your e-commerce store has a clear, easy-to-follow return policy; otherwise, you’ll be getting countless calls from disgruntled customers asking how to return items. Many e-commerce stores will automatically send customers a return authorization number (RAN), which is used to track the return.

 

Embrace Email Marketing

Don’t get me wrong, email should be an integral component of every brand’s online marketing campaign, but it’s particularly beneficial when used during the holiday season. Consumers are more likely to check their emails during this time of year, simply because they are on the lookout for special deals and promotions.

If you want to capture a piece of this pie, you should send your subscribers new deals via email on a weekly basis.

 

Check Out e-commerce Holiday Optimization Marketing Insights

Think with Google Shopping Insights

think with google shopping insights

Google Shopping Insights is a free tool that helps retailers understand how consumers shop for products using Google. Retailers can explore which products are popular on Google, learn how they trend over time, compare regional preferences, and see how people are using mobile and desktop devices to shop.

Specifically, retailers can use Shopping Insights to:

  • Measure consumer interest on products at a national, regional, and city level;
  • Compare demand across geographies, time, and device context;
  • Get ideas for local promotions and investments between mobile and desktop.

Enter a product name into the search field and Shopping Insights displays an interactive map, which users can scale to a national, regional, or city level.

 

Brand Searches

Branded searches have become even more valuable component to eCommerce Holiday optimization.

We’ve talked a lot recently about how important the value of brand has become.

Consider this: You need to compete for loyalists.

Why?

Because loyalists search by brand. A non-loyalist simply might not be able to distinguish your value from a competitor’s, especially if the other brand is more recognizable or is perceived to be a better deal.

Conversely, a competitor bidding strategy can be valuable.

If you sell similar products and boast a stronger value proposition, you may be able to nab some sales.

 

Google Product Ads

Not to be confused with Google Search Ads, Product Listing Ads are another self-serving ad type offered by the search engine giant.

They differ from traditional search ads in several different ways: PLAs are designed specifically for products, making them particularly effective for the holiday season, and they contain more information than standard Adwords ads. Furthermore, PLAs display a picture of the product alongside the listing, drawing more attention to your ads. Typically, PLA’s come in at a lower CPC and have the power to produce tremendous ROI.

Assuming you sell a physical product and not a service, consider using PLAs as part of your online marketing strategy this holiday season.

 

adwords-vs-plas

 

Use Video

The same Google report cited above also found that consumers are planning to spend more time watching product videos this holiday season.

Videos can make some serious money for your online business. Adding a product video to your landing page can increase conversions by 80%.

Whether it’s a live demonstration on how a product works, or a video review by another customers, video has become an integral component in consumers’ shopping decisions. As such, business owners should include video in their marketing strategy, posting relevant videos to YouTube.

Green Beauty has done one of the best jobs I’ve seen providing videos that are not only engaging, but extremely beneficial to their audience. If you’re looking for examples of the kind of content that drives traffic and rocks social media, look no further.

If you need more tips on how to improve eCommerce Holiday conversion rates through video marketing, click here.

Social Media

Of course, social media should also be a part of your marketing strategy for the holidays.

More people use social media during the holidays than any other time of year. This means an even larger audience, which should help to generate sales, will see your posts. Try posting a combination of both informative and promotional material on social media, keeping your content diversified enough so that it doesn’t deter people from following your accounts.

Social Media marketing for the holiday season can be a great strategy for local retailers as well as online retailers. If you want to be a social media rock star in 2015, click here to learn how to create your social media calendar.

 

 Holiday Marketing 101 Guide

Constant Contact's guide gives practical, actionable holiday marketing advice.

Constant Contact has a downloadable guide, “Holiday Marketing 101: Simple Tips to Prepare Your Marketing for the Holiday Season,” designed to get retailers ready for the holiday season.

This guide gives some of the most intuitive and actionable advice available online and includes:

  • How to prepare their marketing for the holidays;
  • How to build holiday momentum for your business;
  • Five ideas for holiday marketing campaigns.

Tips cover how to plan a holiday offer, ways to stay organized, suggestions for email campaigns, and advice on utilizing events, contest, coupons, and other promotions.

 

Lastly,

Stock Up!

You know the Holidays are NOT the time you want to run out of inventory.

Place your orders now, so you’re well stocked for the holiday rush especially if your’re using a fulfilment center.

Offer a variety of shipping options:

Shipping during the Holidays is the worst!

People want things fast, but shipping tends to bottle-neck pretty bad.

Layout clear Holiday shipping time frames and offer up as many options as you can; 2-day, free, pick up in store, etc.

 

It’s crucial for all companies to spend time and effort making their e-commerce websites as engaging, adaptable, and easy-to-use as possible. This will ensure satisfied customers and positive news on your quarterly profit reports.

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