Ecommerce checklist: 10 steps to prepare your xmas experience

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Christmas is one of the most lucrative seasons in ecommerce and it is critical that your business is ready in advance to implement the perfect retail strategy.

In 2013 the expansion of mobile shopping and the improvements of delivery saw a surge in online shopping, with sales growing by 19.2% in December (BBC). That’s business you don’t want to miss out on – make sure you are ready for the Christmas rush!

To ensure you are prepared to meet your customers’ needs and provide a smooth shopping experience, here are 10 tips to ecommerce success this Christmas.

1. Implement an email campaign

When used correctly, email can be a powerful tool for encouraging purchases and a great way of reconnecting with your customers.

Use this platform as a means to inform your customers about the special offers available to them during Christmas.

But before creating an email campaign, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my email platform allow me to schedule emails?
  • Do I have a good, eye-catching template?
  • Is the offer/discount clear in the email?
  • Does the landing page fit with the email?
  • Is the email mobile compatible?

2. Utilise social media

Social media is one of the most influential platforms for consumers, with the ease of communication between you and your customers creating a powerful platform for engagement and relationship building.

If you want to generate a successful social media campaign in the run up to December, consider implementing the following across your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ business accounts:

  • Video content: Whether it’s a video about the best gift ideas and discounts or your delivery policy, this is great for encouraging engagement and is a clear and fun way to communicate with your customers.
  • Images: A study revealed that images on Facebook received 600% more engagement than any text-based posts (Adobe), therefore using images to show users your gift or offer of the week is likely to drive more engagement. 
  • Social ads: Whether you want to monitor, measure or optimise your social campaigns, ads will show you what your users engage with most so you can design effective posts in the run up to the season’s boom.   

3. Revisit your website’s design

Mixing up and optimising your website’s design is a great way of promoting your services and special offers. Here’s what you need to think about:

  • Keep it festive: Nothing says ‘buy your Christmas gifts here’ like a festive design. Consider changing your site’s colours to greens, golds and reds to let your customers know that you are in the festive mood and ready to meet their shopping needs.
  • Gift section: Creating a page for all of your gifts and offers will support the usability of your site for customers during the season’s rush. This is also a great option if you want to avoid isolating customers who don’t celebrate Christmas.
  • Improve visibility: Highlighting your best sellers, gifts and special offers across the site will meet the consumer’s demand to find the best Christmas gifts. Why not continue the festive theme and feature a virtual Christmas tree with presents (gift ideas) they can open?

4. Consider mobile commerce

Is your site compatible for mobile phones and tablets? With over 60% of consumers saying they wouldn’t engage with a site if it isn’t mobile optimised (Google), investing in mobile commerce can benefit both your business and your customers.

If you are creating or have a mobile site, make sure it is going provide your customers with a smooth shopping experience by ensuring it ticks all the right boxes:

  • Speed: Nothing will put your customers off more than having to wait for your site to load.
  • Clarity: Make sure it’s direct and the relevant information is easy to find.
  • Navigation: Users don’t want to and shouldn’t have to zoom in and out.

5. Remarket

Your customers have several items in their shopping bag, yet have left your site. What can you do now?

Remarketing is an effective solution and is used in many successful retail strategies as it allows you to target:

  • Visitors to your e-commerce site who did not make a purchase.
  • Visitors with items in their shopping basket who abandoned your site.

Take advantage of the Christmas rush and don’t let any sales slip away.

6. Make use of the shopping basket

Many e-commerce sites forget about the power of the consumer’s shopping basket, but paying it a little more attention can significantly increase sales. Showing users the following before they checkout will help successfully upsell and cross-sell:

  • Similar products.
  • Best sellers.
  • What other user’s bought.

7. Promote your delivery information

Every e-commerce business wants happy customers, and there is an added pressure during festive periods.

With delivery being so important over Christmas, it is essential e-commerce businesses improve their delivery information during this time. Make sure you inform your customers in advance about the last order date for a guaranteed Christmas delivery using email, web banners and social media.

8. Introduce new payment options

It is also worth considering whether you should introduce additional payment options during the Christmas rush to help benefit conversions. If you only accept the traditional methods, such as Visa, why not extend your options to PayPal or American Express?

Make sure your customers are aware that you are offering new payment methods so they know to come to you and not your competitors. 

9. Evaluate your stock

There is nothing more disappointing for a Christmas shopper than finding the perfect present and discovering it’s not in stock! Don’t disappoint your customers - make sure your stock levels are sufficient.

Keeping your customers up to date with stock levels will both improve their shopping experience and drive conversions.

Top tip: review last year’s sales to help you identify the most sought after products and ensure you have enough for this year.

10. Don’t forget January and February

January and February are renowned for being some of the slowest months for sales. Utilising the Christmas rush to upsell these forgotten months is a great way to prepare for the aftermath of the retail boom.

Rewarding December’s customers with January discounts is a simple yet effective solution as it will encourage your users to return.

Whether you decide to implement one or all of these suggestions, knowing your strategy well in advance is essential if you want to reap the benefits of the Christmas rush. 

Nick Pinson is director at iWeb Solutions.

About Nick Pinson

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