By Doug Logan
Is Your Ecommerce Site Ready for the Holidays?
Last year about 10 million more Americans shopped online than in stores over Black Friday weekend according to an article by Fortune. That just further perpetuates the growth trend we’ve seen over the last five years which indicates that online retailers can look forward to another year of record breaking sales.
So is your business prepared for another record breaking year? Now is certainly a good time to field this question - because if you need to reevaluate your website to make a few improvements, then now is the time to do it.
Here are some tips to get ready for the coming season, so you can reap the rewards of all that the holiday sales season has to offer.
Clean Up and Simplify Your Storefront.
On average, 38% of visitors will leave a site due to ineffective site design, this is why you should make sure that your website is simple and clean. Here’s a short list of things to minimize the points of friction on your site:
- Design your site to flow naturally toward your checkout.
- Use a simple site navigation to reduce confusion.
- Make sure your search is easy to use and that users can find your best selling products.
- Reassure visitors you will not fill their inbox with spam.
- You won’t hit them with any unseen charges or fees.
- Your site provides a safe environment for their personal and payment information. Let customers know what measures you take to keep their data safe.
While these suggestions are only meant to scratch the surface on how you should be evaluating your site’s design, they should help you diagnose pain points on your site. This exercise should also help you indicate specific shortcomings that need to be updated before the first wave of visitors arrives on Cyber Monday. Remember, on average 38% of visitors will leave a site due to ineffective site design, this task will be well worth your time.
Offer Flexible Financing and Other Payment Options.
Giving your customers options shouldn’t stop at different sizes and colors. Flexibility in payment options are a real easy way to see a boost this holiday season. That’s why going beyond the conventional Visa/Mastercard payment methods and offering your ecommerce holiday shoppers alternative payment options is a necessity. Since it’s been estimated that 59% of all transactions will soon be made with various alternative payment methods, implementing more payment options will help ensure that all of your conversions become actual sales.
Speaking of which, here’s another innovative payment option that ecommerce stores should employ: offering consumer financing so that customers can pay over time. Bread offers customers online financing options directly on your website. And there are plenty of other additional perks to boot:
- Your company gets paid in full, up front, no questions asked. Bread takes care of the financing, billing, paperwork, etc., thereafter.
- Bread’s merchant tools are designed to integrate seamlessly into your website and are highly customizable, unlike some of the other solutions available.
- Customers can easily see alternate pricing and payments alongside the actual cost of the items on your product pages.
- Eligible customers can be approved in minutes.
- All your company has to do is get approved, and your online storefront can offer consumer financing in as little as one business day.
- Lots of other great features available on their website: www.getbread.com
During the holidays, providing the option of offering consumer financing can lead to an increase in your average-order-value (AOV) per customer and higher overall sales. When you have a way to get more customers that spend more money, that’s called an easy decision.
Keep It Social.
Make sure that you’re leveraging social media effectively during this holiday season. Studies have shown that sales, which were referral traffic from social media, have actually been growing faster than non-social ecommerce site traffic. This is why you should evaluate how your social campaigns are performing by taking the following into consideration:
- Have your most recent social campaigns been successful or are they in need of improvement?
- Should you set up a series of social campaigns, specifically crafted for marketing your holiday sales message with your brand’s fans and followers?
- How long will it take to acquire the creative in order to run these various campaigns and promotions? (In other words, when will you be faced with crunch-time?)
Inspire Confidence and Security.
Recent studies have shown that an alarmingly large portion of people are suspicious about an online merchants’ ability to protect their personal information. In fact 34% said that this sense of distrust could even have potential customers backing away from a sale altogether and that they would be “hesitant” to shop online with certain companies.
Granted, the vast majority of ecommerce sites may very well have completely adequate security measures in place, but this won’t change the fact that consumers are feeling wary of merchants. And for good reason: considering how companies from Experian to Target have been hacked in the last two years, perhaps a little assurance can go a long way with customers this holiday season. That’s why you should at least incorporate various trust factors into your site, which are elements, images, videos, etc., intended to instill a strong sense of trustworthiness and adherence to industry-standard security measures and ethics.
Trust factors can include things like: awards, certifications, customer reviews, cooperating organizations, verifications from reporting agencies, and can also extend into social media likes, comments, and other interactions (ie. social proof). Anything that allows a visitor to see who trusts your site can really add credibility in the eyes of a potential customer.
Offer Free and Expedited Shipping.
One of the more obvious ways to convert the coming hordes of holiday shoppers is to offer free and expedited shipping. Especially given how almost half of all major merchants provide a free shipping option, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that customers tend to back out of a sale and shop elsewhere if there is no free shipping offer provided.
Also, expedited shipping (especially over the holiday season) should be something that your company offers. In fact, Amazon grabbed half of last-minute, online Christmas shoppers last year. During that last week before Christmas, shoppers sought to purchase specific gifts that they likely could not find in stores, but could quickly find online. And since Amazon is known for their variety of shipping options, including both free and expedited shipping, the picture becomes rather clear: shoppers are on a ticking clock, making 2-day free shipping a very attractive deal during those last few days before December 25th.
Offer free and expedited shipping options, and you’ll have no problem snatching up those last-minute gift shoppers.
Get Moving Today. Thank Yourself Next Year.
The good news is that there’s still time left to make these necessary improvements to your website. If you get started today, your website could be revved up and ready to go by the time Black Friday gets here. So to review, it’s important that you keep these next action steps in mind:
- Ensure that your site is mobile friendly and loads quickly.
- Reevaluate the design elements and navigational ease of the site.
- Re-engage your brand’s social media fan-base and prepare your campaigns.
- Ensure that your website’s trust factors are in place and on display.
- Consider providing a free and expedited shipping option.
- Add additional payment methods for your site’s checkout.
- Offer customers an easy to use financing option.
If you can successfully accomplish the items on this checklist, then this holiday sales season might just turn out to be your best one yet.