The holiday season is upon us, and online shopping volumes are likely to explode. According to eMarketer, US online retail sales for the upcoming holiday season are expected to reach $61.8 billion, a 15% increase over the same period in 2012.With Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occurring on the very same day, this year’s online commerce revenues could easily top the already bold predictions.
So, if you are selling online, get ready to roll up your sleeves and prepare your eCommerce site for the coming rush. Here is how:
1. Ramp up Your Server Capacity and Site Performance
The importance of maximum site availability and speed cannot be overstated. After all, down times invariably translate into revenue and traffic losses. The same holds true for slow page load times. According to a recent Harris Poll, a staggering 67% of online shoppers abandon eCommerce sites because of performance problems. Shoppers expect pages to load in 1-2 seconds max. So, make sure your server can facilitate your expected traffic levels and consider performance enhancing utilities such as caching and auto-scaling.
For more information on how you can boost server capacity and site performance, click here: Magento Performance Optimization.
2. Make Your Content Work for You
Use this opportunity to review and test the user-friendliness of your pages, considering all best-practices on the one hand and the unique requirements of your specific target audience on the other. Provide useful information on your product pages to help your customers make the right purchasing decision. Think of common customer questions and concerns relating to your products and provide answers. Be sure to make the information easy to read by breaking up the texts into various segments, and use subheadings to indicate the nature of the content. Use high quality images and videos not only for traditional product presentation but also as visual aids and educational tools for customers.
A case in point: If you are selling baby slings, a video or pictures on how to wrap and secure the sling correctly will establish trust and eliminate concerns regarding its use. What’s more: The better educated your customers are, the less likely it is that they return purchases.
3. Offer Truly Enticing Specials
Feature holiday specials on your pages. Provide shopping incentives, such as free shipping, discounts, coupons etc. With this year’s holiday shopping expected to begin earlier than ever, and 30% of shoppers planning to start before Halloween, consider early bird incentives. Promote quick shopping decisions, like “Order this item by [time/date] and get this popular accessory free of charge with your order!”
4. Make Arrangements for a Flawless Order Fulfillment
Ensure reliable and timely fulfillment despite higher shopping volumes. Consider extra staffing requirements and fine-tune the fulfillment processes with the extra load in mind. Polish your inventory control and take precautionary measures such as buffers or other just-in-time supply capabilities to ensure that your business can fulfill all orders as needed. Customer disappointment with order fulfillment is always bad for business, and especially so during the holidays.
5. Accommodate Your Mobile Shoppers
Mobile devices are projected to account for about 16% of the total holiday shopping volume this year, a 15% increase compared to 2012. Businesses who have a mobile ecommerce solution already in place will likely win big this year. If your site is not optimized for mobile shopping yet, make sure to start the process now so you can be ready for the mobile commerce onslaught in 2014.
During the upcoming holiday season, businesses with strong eCommerce capabilities are likely to win big. Others should take note now, invest time in learning their customers’ needs, and turn to experts for advice on how to translate their insights into measurable eCommerce gains, come the next holiday period.