• London

    Sweeps Building, 6-7 St Cross Street,
    London. EC1N 8UA

  • New York

    442 Broadway, 2nd Floor,
    New York, NY 10013

Optimise Your Holiday Readiness: 12 E-commerce basics to boost your sales this holiday season

Growth Secrets|01.10.2018

I bet you didn’t think your consumers would start researching Christmas deals as early as September? Well, they do, maybe even sooner. So it’s time for e-commerce businesses to start planning for Christmas if you want to experience success this year.

This article aims to give away the most useful strategies you can use to boost your sales this holiday season...

1. Research & Analysis

Before you do anything to prepare for the holiday season, it would be a good idea to revisit your Google analytics data from previous years. Begin by analysing the patterns in trends, visits to your website, and the percentage of sales during the peak gift-buying season. 

Are there any specific days during this time that you need to be especially prepared for? For example, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday you will likely have experienced a huge spike in sales. If you’re promoting extremely good offers this year, that won’t change.

Use Google analytics to review insights like what dates and hours are best for conversions near Christmas? Was the most popular product during Christmas a gift set? Who was buying it and what was their age/gender? 

You can also talk to your customers and ask them what they liked/disliked last year and what they’d like to see you doing this year. This way you will know what is most important to your customers, and there’s nothing more valuable than that. 

With this information, you will better understand what to expect and be able to predict demand this year. This puts you in a much better position to make decisions when planning and preparing for the most popular gift buying time of year.

2. Competitor analysis 

Learning from your competitors should be a significant part of your strategic planning this Christmas season. If you remember anything your competitors did last year that made you think “I wish we did that!”, this year is your chance to learn from their success, but you can do an even better job! You can also make a note of your competitor's mistakes and learn from them to prevent your brand from doing the same.

Ask your team: “what can we do to stand out from our competitors this Christmas?” and, “how can we make our customers feel valued and excited to buy from us rather than our competitors?” 

Consider offering things like an optional gift wrapping service, personal messages inside Christmas cards, or freebies to compliment the product they bought. If you’re feeling extremely nice, you could offer free shipping during the Christmas holiday season!

By going the extra mile, your customers will notice. Why? Because it’s the small, thoughtful things that make your customer’s experiences enjoyable, it shows that you really care about them and they are more likely to feel valued.

3. Planning 

Planning well ahead is an extremely important factor for success this Christmas holiday season. It will help your business to avoid unnecessary errors, resulting in a more organised strategy, a happier team of employees and fewer negative customer experiences.

To get things rolling, start by getting together as a team to create a promotional calendar using tools like Trello or an excel spreadsheet well ahead of the peak season. Your promotional calendar should outline exactly how and when you plan to reach each goal at least three months prior to Christmas sales. 

Include the name, theme and aims of each ad or promotion, launch dates, end dates and the names of each employee in charge of creating and launching the promotion.

You could also include the channels each promotion will be published to. Will it be in an email newsletter, a social media post, a blog post, a pop up on your website, or all of them?

Remember to make sure your website aligns with the overall Christmas strategy and what is being done promotionally.

4. Staffing

Shoppers will be on the hunt for the best bargains and if you’ve planned it right, you could experience a huge increase in sales and customer enquiries this Christmas. Therefore, it might be a good idea to train and hire additional seasonal staff three months prior to the rush. 

This will ensure that you have an adequate amount of trained staff to cope with your forecasted hit of sales. Don’t forget to consider the big sale days like Black and Green Friday, you might need an even bigger team during this time. 

5. Consider global differences

If you sell internationally it is extremely important to think about the global and cultural differences when planning for the Christmas holiday season. In China, for example, their biggest online shopping day is two weeks before Black Friday in the UK and the U.S. and Finland celebrates Christmas the day on Christmas Eve.

So make sure your international warehouse and/or fulfilment centre has a strategy to handle selling internationally during the Christmas period. You should also check that your marketing strategies and promotional calendars are aligned with each other.

6. Strategic web content

The Christmas season is a great opportunity to strategically use your website and landing pages to increase sales. During the Christmas season, design a consistent Christmas theme throughout your website, use Christmas themed banners on every page, highlight clickable Christmas deals and gift ideas for him or for her on your landing page to intrigue your customers and to target those specifically shopping for gifts. 

Popups are a popular strategy to grab your visitors attention to remind them of your limited Christmas promotions, offers and discounts. Don’t use too many though as they can be annoying.

7. Mobile commerce

This Christmas your customers will expect your mobile experience to be optimised to a high standard. We recommend that you take the time to optimise the mobile navigation on your site or sites. Pay special attention to the shopping cart as this is the stage where most consumers abandon online shopping due to it being too clunky or complicated. 

You could consider offering one-click purchases and think about building an e-commerce app for your brand to make it easier for customers to buy from you, using their mobile phones. 

8. Consistent loading Speed

Unfortunately, having a beautiful and user-friendly site isn’t enough. Consumers are generally in a rush to find the perfect gift for loved ones and would like to be able to order gifts online as quickly as possible. 

Research shows that 40% of consumers will abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load and site load time on mobile and desktop contributes to search rankings on Google. So by reducing your average load time, your customers are more likely to find you and stick around to purchase a Christmas gift. 

Make sure to double check your hosting capabilities prior to the holiday season in preparation for an influx in web traffic and sales this Christmas. You can use Pingdom’s speed test to check your overall site speed.

For mobile commerce, consider implementing AMP: Accelerated Mobile Pages. This is a Google-backed project designed to improve the user experience and have site pages load quickly on mobile.

Smaller images work best on mobile phones when loading site pages so you might want to look at launching a program which optimises image sizes according to the device the visitor is using to speed up the load time.

9. Offers & discounts 

Offers and discounts are critical to increasing sales during the peak holiday season. Highlight products with the most irresistible deals from your site and use clickable, eye-catching images to persuade visitors to look at and buy your Christmas offers! 

Black Friday Cyber Monday

Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is a huge opportunity for your e-commerce business to shine, attract new customers, see loyal customers again, and make more sales. Techradar found that U.S. consumers spent an astonishing $3.34 billion on Black Friday in 2017, and that’s just online. If you want to boost your sales and take full advantage of the Christmas season, you need to participate in BFCM and start planning now.

Dedicated Christmas Gift Section

Dedicate a section of your landing page to feature Christmas gift inspiration for him, for her, for children, and for adults. You should use clear navigation to the gift section with clickable imagery, Christmas colours, banners, and pop-ups. By doing this, you will make it easier for gift buyers to spot and shop products for their loved ones and boost your sales this Christmas as a result.

10. Create a sense of urgency

To help make your offers and discounts more irresistible aim to create a sense of urgency. By creating a sense of urgency you will persuade your customers to act quicker than they might have otherwise, encouraging them to snap up deals before they end.

Deal of the day (for the 12 days of Christmas)

During the build-up to Christmas, you could design a fun one-day-only deal on various products, every day for the 12 days of Christmas. Make sure you are offering deals that your customers will be desperate not to miss out on. For example, “On the 6th day of Christmas, {Insert brand name} gave to me, 60% off the jewellery collection!”. 
 
Publish the 12 different deals on social media, and send in email newsletters with good use of imagery and fun copywriting. 

Countdown feature

Another powerful way of creating a sense of urgency is by using a countdown timer to highlight the time limitation on an offer. 

Countdown timers work really well to enhance the psychological fear of missing an astonishing deal. The visualisation of the exact number of days, hours, minutes and seconds they have left before they miss out, will persuade your customers to hurry and make a decision. 

11. Prevent returns

The online retail industry tends to receive a lot more returns than physical stores because people can’t try before they buy. If something doesn’t fit or the item doesn’t look or feel as it is described consumers will return the item. 

To prevent returns this Christmas, make sure your product descriptions are informative and written clearly with descriptive words, listing every little feature and detail in order to precisely describe each product.

Good imagery will help to accurately show the colours and style. If possible hire models or brand ambassadors and use photographs and videos to show how the items should look. 

12. Clearly communicate shipping cut offs

It’s important to clearly communicate when your shipping cut off is and to highlight it on all platforms: landing pages, your shopping cart, social media, email newsletters and any outbound materials. Think about offering digital gift cards for those last minute shoppers who miss the cut off date!

Conclusion

Christmas is a happy festive time so get in the spirit of things and involve your customers too. If you plan well ahead, you and your team won’t be stressed this holiday season and neither will your customers.

Offer the most amazing deals, promote them on various platforms to bring in more sales from new and old customers. Learn from your previous years, and from your competitors, this year is your chance to shine, so stand out with new exciting ideas! 

Just remember how extremely important it is that you and your team have the capability to cope with the spike in sales during peak season and you’ll be grand. 

If you approach things the correct way, you will boost your sales this holiday season. 

Get started NOW!

Keep Reading

How can we help?

Get in touch to discuss your e-commerce ambitions and we’ll help you get there.

Get in touch