- November 16, 2015
- by Alex O'Byrne
- 7 minute read
We’re about to hit the busiest part of the year for most online retailers. This is a tremendous opportunity to increase your yearly sales and I want to show you how to make the most of it. Here are my tips.
- Black Friday is Friday 27 November
- Cyber Monday is Monday 30 November
- Small Business Saturday is Saturday 5 December
More from Google
- How well do your web pages rank for the key searches that you know generate sales? Could you get those pages a bit higher so they receive more clicks? Do this by improving the text content, redirecting more internal links to your most important pages and making sure the pages load quickly.
- Your website needs to be optimised for mobile to rank highly for users of handheld devices. You can do this by using responsive design, where the webpage optimises itself to the current screen size.
- Log in to Google Web Master tools and check there are no problems.
- Get ad campaigns set up well ahead of key dates and ensure you have a fallback payment method in case of problems with your primary.
- If you sell gifts it's a competitive time, so niche down to terms that you can own i.e. that are specific to your product.
- It's a bit late to be starting PR campaigns with magazines and bloggers, but you can still gather interest using the #BlackFriday, #CyberMonday, #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSatUK hashtags.
- Schedule tweets and posts that show your best offers so that they carry on being broadcast even when you get busy and have no time to post.
- Email is still the highest-converting channel for ecommerce. Use offers, inspirational content and product features to direct people to your website.
- Consider segmenting your list and send different content to new customers and repeat customers.
Remove friction from the purchase
Once you’ve done the hard work of getting a visitor on to your website, make sure its design and navigation don’t let you down.
- Try buying on all devices, i.e. mobile, tablet and desktop. Look for any problems or confusing parts of the site. Ideally, watch someone else use the site and listen to their feedback.
- Use the header of the website to communicate selling points, such as free shipping and guarantees. It’s also important at this time of year to mention that goods are still available for delivery before Christmas. This should be immediately obvious when landing on the site. Easy and hassle-free returns is a key selling point you should mention when it comes to gifts.
- Your website needs to clearly state if items will still arrive before Christmas. Even better, if you give a precise date.
- Your store needs to handle sudden surges in traffic. If you’re on Shopify this shouldn’t be a problem, you’re sharing the platform with 200,000 other shops so your traffic will be a drop in the ocean. If the website is not on a hosted platform, make sure you have the capacity to deal with peak visitor numbers. If you are experiencing problems, consider upgrading hardware, using a CDN like Cloudflare, and enabling caching and compression of your website assets.
- A gift wrapping option is a great selling point at Christmas and will increase your average order value. If you decide to offer this, make sure it's obvious in the header of your website. It should also be an easy upsell option on the cart page.
- The homepage needs to clearly show what you sell and why you're different.
- Consider ditching carousels in favour of a single hero banner image that clearly states your best offers.
- High-quality photography is crucial in ecommerce. Does the homepage use powerful imagery? Is product photography consistent? Are there any photos of the products in use? Can you get an idea of a product's size from the images? Is there a sufficient level of detail?
- Do you have a photograph of how the item is packaged? Buyers at this time of year will want to know how the item looks when it arrives.
- Make sure RRP or pre-sale prices are visible. It's convention for the discounted price to appear in red. Don't use strikethroughs because they can be hard to read on smaller screen sizes.
- Somewhere near the buy button, make it clear when items will arrive. Also make sure that any shipping fees are visible at this point.
- Check your website for spelling errors because they instantly destroy credibility. Everything in ecommerce is about trust.
- Add a menu option for ‘Gifts’ and group the subheadings by price bands, such as ‘Under £25’, ‘Under £50’. You can also have subheadings for specific scenarios, such as ‘Gifts for her’, ‘Gift for the person that has everything’ and so on.
- Include a bestsellers menu item, this is what many casual browsers will click on to get an idea of what the company sells.
- Make sure there is social proof throughout the process: add accreditations, customer reviews, testimonials and any press coverage.
- Your contact details should be obvious. Add a phone number if there’s not one already. It may seem like it’s going to create a lot of work answering calls, but the feedback you get could be invaluable. You will also be able to reassure customers that are concerned about gifts arriving in time.
- Run a broken link check, websites these days change a lot and you may be surprised how many broken links you have.
- Research by Nielsen shows that you only need to watch 5 people use your website to gather the majority of important feedback. Do this and find out where you can improve. Do this in person if possible.
- Run the website through fivesecondtest.com or usertesting.com to gather feedback from fresh eyes.
- And finally, add a Christmas twist with a little bit of mistletoe somewhere in your header. It may seem twee but it shows your brand is ‘alive’ and that you’re thinking about Christmas.
Follow up to create a memorable experience
- If you are fulfilling in-house, review your setup and look for areas of improvement. Can any barcode scanners be put closer to the aisles? Are popular products the easiest to get to? Are there any Shopify Apps that would help organise and speed up the whole process?
- If you are using a third party for warehousing and fulfillment, check on the integration they have already and see if there’s ways it can be improved. Is your process manual? Can it be more automatic or light touch?
- If all has gone well, you'll be seeing a lot of orders, including many from new customers. Ideally these new ones will follow the customer journey all the way to becoming loyal repeat customers. The easiest way to get repeat customers is to do an excellent job of the first order. This means exceeding expectations and ensuring all touch points convey what your brand is about.
- Packaging is often the first physical touchpoint with the brand, so make sure it does the product justice. Luxury products shouldn’t be shipped in a jiffy bag. Are there interesting materials you can use? What’s the unboxing process like? Do they include small gifts or discount codes to share with friends? Can you send coupon codes to new customers? What about including free samples of future products too?
- An automated email follow up two months after the festive season with a thank you message and a discount code can work wonders. There are Shopify apps that can do this including Remarkety, Nosto and Emma.
- Use Yotpo or Trustpilot to automatically ask customers for a review after they receive their delivery. Reviews are crucial to demonstrating the quality of your product and service to future prospective customers.
It’s a brilliant time to be an online retailer. Go forth and conquer.
If you need help improving your Shopify store, consider one of our retainer plans. For full redesigns, we can also help.
Do you also have a brick & mortar store? You can also read our guide to Small Business Saturday.
Alex is Co-founder at We Make Websites, the go-to Shopify agency for global commerce. We Make Websites design, develop and optimise e-commerce websites for the fastest growing brands on the planet, with teams in London and New York. Alex is an international speaker on ecommerce, brand and business growth.