We all have to agree – this year has been far different than any other, and as we’re experiencing the holiday shopping season approaching, we need to wonder what it will look like, don’t we?
COVID-19 forced several businesses to close temporarily during the spring and summer, while other major retailers filed bankruptcy. Online shopping options played a great role in letting us survive during lockdowns.
In-person services, including yoga studios and gyms, went virtual, while travel-based businesses such as rental cars and airlines drastically suffered in sales.
Flipping the coin, a few companies experienced a boom during the pandemic. With customers spending more time at their homes, businesses supporting at-home workouts and video game companies experienced a spike in purchases, and that’s understandable. Peloton experienced a tremendous 66% growth in revenue from its treadmill and in-home bike sales.
Takeout options and grocery delivery also enjoyed tremendous growth this year. After such an unprecedented year, several retailers and consumers are looking to the holiday season, noticing that traditional Black Friday shopping is no more a reality.
Instead, stores are more inclined toward e-commerce sales, which are expected to increase during the final quarter of 2020 excessively.
As many as two-thirds of retailers are expecting higher engagement and sales via social media channels, and due to that, businesses are jacking up their holiday marketing plans.
So, how can you perfectly prepare yourself for the same? We’ve done intensive research on the current market and listed out a sweet checklist of 10 killer points!
The best way to make the most of increased digital holiday traffic
Each year, retailers depend upon the holiday season to generate a bulky portion of their per year revenue. The year 2020 has brought forth several changes in consumer shopping habits. However, businesses can still expect skyrocketing in holiday shopping. No, it isn’t at early to begin preparing, as you’ll need to create a seamless experience for your customers to keep them loyal. Now, let’s walk through a checklist and ensure we don’t miss anything:
- Improve your website loading speed like never before
- Keep your website’s layout intact
- Welcome mobile shoppers with open arms
- Prepare yourself well to answer customers’ questions
- Launch your updates now
- Elevate your store’s inventory
- Keep a backup plan in your pocket!
- Optimize your checkout process to the best
- Ensure tight web security
- Fully optimize the checkout page
- Prepare to sell to your international customers
- Create an unforgettable packaging and unboxing experience
- Have a transparent and easy return policy
- Ensure your e-commerce platform includes 24/7 support
1. Improve your website loading speed like never before
75% of internet users exclaim that they wouldn’t prefer returning to websites taking longer than 4 seconds to load, and the eCommerce visitors are even impatient!
These customers will leave for good, and 44% of them are also going to share this negative experience with buddies. With several potential eyeballs on your website over the holidays, you certainly can’t risk a slow landing page, as that will lead to an army of unhappy customers!
Your website needs to load in a blink of an eye, and by that, we mean 2 seconds is what you can target your page to load! Website loading time is an easy test and fix. You can use Google’s Page Speed Tool to note down how your website performs and further, figure out where you need improvements.
Here we help you in speeding up your website! Just do the following:
- Uninstall plugins that are currently not in use.
- Remove or compress heavy video/photo files on your website
- Distribute your website’s traffic load too numerous servers by using a load balancer or Content Delivery Network (CDN).
- Upgrade to better hosting services that ensure good speed as well as resources.
2. Keep your website’s layout intact.
Your brand always needs to be easily recognized. Keeping things fresh is cool, but if you’re planning to change up your website’s layout and appearance right before the holidays, it may backfire for you.
People like consistency, most importantly, while finding products and placing orders. If they experience any drastic change in these processes, it may bring them frustration or unforeseen technical glitches.
Rather website redesign shift, you need to focus on presenting your holiday deals in a familiar manner yet interesting to your customers. Won’t you love to steal a few ideas from us?
- Create a holiday-specific landing page and present your superb and attractive deals in one place.
- Add holiday banners to product pages.
- Use pop-ups and promo bars to showcase the deal of the day/week/month.
- Put together fresh gift-specific categories, such as “Gift Ideas for kids.”
3. Welcome mobile shoppers with open arms!
Specialists agree that mobile commerce is thriving and will account for over half of all eCommerce sales in the United States by 2021.
To online store owners, it highlights just one thing—adjusting to the shopping habits of the customer to generate higher sales not just during the upcoming holiday season but the whole year-round.
Start by ensuring that your is mobile-friendly by testing it with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Note down one thing, no matter your online store is accessible on mobile devices, it doesn’t reflect that your business is all set for mobile sales.
To offer a better customer experience on mobiles, the following are some easy tips:
- Use a responsive website design.
- Use no crazy pop-ups at all. Pop-ups for mobile should be of the right size, and closing them should be easy for the customers.
- Adjust font and button sizes
- Optimize page loading speed
- Enable mobile payments
4. Prepare yourself well to answer customers’ questions.
More visitors to your website clearly means more inquiries from your customers, which you need to answer to maintain your site reputation. To deal with that, ensure your website content provides every bit of necessary info that your users might need. Here come 3 sweet tips:
Writing informative product descriptions – Until you’re not describing your products well, the user will hesitate to make purchases. So, a bit of elaboration is needed here to bring certainty.
Putting together clear store policies – The purchasing process and your policies need to be easily understandable. Never hide any extra costs, and don’t add marketing gimmicks.
Creating an FAQ section – That can greatly decrease the number of questions and queries coming to you, as by FAQ, most of the common doubts of the buyers get cleared.
A few times, your visitors may not find the answers on your website. So, ensure that reaching you is easy for them.
- Create a Contact Us page (This is always a top priority)
- Enable chatbot to provide a live chat option.
- Include social media handles in your website’s footer as your customer may prefer pinging you through direct messages.
Tip of the day: Rather than handling customer questions sporadically, you can block out time in your calendar daily to respond to them once you get them. This way, you can boost your productivity besides reducing stress. Isn’t that sweet?
5. Launch your updates now
It’s a time of change, and without bringing the right changes, succeeding with your online stores is going to be ultra-challenging. Just bringing the right updates won’t do. You’ll have to launch your updates now.
Making any huge changes to your online store during the sweet period of increased traffic will certainly cause unexpected technical issues, which can highly damage your sales.
In case you’re looking towards introducing an update to your website, we advise you to anyhow do it before the start of November, or postponing it until after the holidays will also be cool.
6. Elevate your store’s inventory
Yes, scaling up your store’s inventory is a smart step right now.
Roll your gaze over your sales trends from the year before, or analyze recent sales if you launched your store recently to predict which products are going to be in high demand during the holiday season.
Stock your inventory well, get in touch with the third-party services for sourcing your products, and learn about the stock levels of whatever products you’re selling.
Who knows your website gets an instant mob of visitors, purchasing more than you expected?
7. Keep a backup plan in your pocket!
Guys, nothing is certain at the current time, so a backup plan is ultra-crucial right now.
It’s better to be safe, isn’t it? Think of all potential issues that might take place during the holidays and have a backup plan of action for each.
How will you tackle a data hack? What action you’ll take if your server crashes?
What in case your products go out of stock (Hey, we’ve explained it up there!)? You can’t always predict the upcoming scenario, but preparing yourself for most scenarios is cool.
You can simply make a list of plans that you can implement in case anything goes wrong or you don’t attain success with your current plans. Understanding the current market (whatever business you own) will itself give you many ideas about how to make this backup plan’s list!
8. Optimize your checkout process to the best
Just stocking the products and bringing enough traffic to your online stores isn’t enough.
No matter our holiday marketing campaigns running, your products are ready, and there’s a great mob of customers visiting your store; you need to bring easy in buying products from your website.
If the purchasing process isn’t simple, around three-fourth of buyers will abandon their carts. The checkout process on your online store needs to be simple and intuitive; otherwise, one-fourth of buyers will abandon the purchase due to that reason.
How bad is it to let that happen?
The checkout process needs to be simple and intuitive in your store. Well, how would you check that? It’s simple; just go through it yourself. At this point, we need to consider that less is more., by which we mean a shorter checkout process.
If you have a single-page checkout, ensure that the form isn’t disarranged and every field you ask the customers to fill is compulsory rather than “good to know.” We’d give the same advice if there’s a multi-page checkout process in your store.
Master tip of the day: Add a progress indicator at the page’s top and permit the shopper to know how they’re rolling in their buying process. This can help to reduce the number of abandoned carts. That would certainly increase the conversion rate and income. Guys, this is a proven method!
9. Ensure tight web security
In current times, cybersecurity is something that can’t be compromised at all, and you cannot roll your online store without ensuring tight security and giving your buyers a sense of safety.
No matter people are used to shopping online in today’s date, The question of payment security customer data protection is never off the table, and it never will be, no matter what the situation is.
90% of Americans worry regarding data security online, with over half of them citing identity theft, and over 15% credit card fraud as the biggest concern.
With the holiday shopping season right ahead of us, your website’s security needs to be the crown of your priorities list. Reassure your customers that there’s nothing to worry about their data. Use SSL certificates besides having security badges permanently hanged on your website and checkout pages. That will develop trust in your buyers.
10. Fully optimize the checkout page.
Common sense says that once a customer reaches the checkout page, he’s already decided to make a purchase. Now, that’s a stage from where you actually can’t afford your customer to abandon the purchase.
Here, optimizing your checkout page becomes necessary to make the process smooth to the max. By doing this, you can ensure that your customer doesn’t abandon before completing the purchase process.
We advise you to have only one checkout page and enabling guest checkout, as that will create a seamless checkout experience. Besides that, you can add further convenience by offering several payment options.
Shall we elaborate more?
Simplify checkout to one page:
If you have all of your checkout-related forms on just one page, it’s gonna make the process quicker and easier for customers. Loading a single page in contrast to waiting for multiple pages to load, most importantly, on a mobile device, proves to be a game-changer.
If you’re giving your customers time to leave your site, you’re actually losing sales. All of these factors point out to just one factor: customer satisfaction. Have a single checkout page, and that will elevate the overall user experience of your website, and you want customers to walk away with full satisfaction so that they return to your online store in the future also.
Enable guest checkout:
Anonymous checkouts prove to be crucial for first-time customers. Trust in the merchant is among the most needed factors for online shopping. Many customers never feel uncomfortable saving their contact info during their initial visit to your store. Asking a registration highly interrupts the shopping process.
Once your customer decides to buy, they expect the checkout process to be simple– and that needs to be the aim of you as a merchant as well. Checking out as a guest can be faster than creating an account. It’s looked upon as a lesser “commitment” and removes the potential approach that you’re after user data.
Offer numerous payment options:
Now that’s what we’d call common sense. When a customer is all set to enter their payment info, the very last thing they want to avoid is the payment method against their choice.
Look upon offering more payment options, including PayPal/Venmo or American Express. If you’re providing as many secure payment options as possible, it’s gonna be convenient for your customer. They’ll certainly appreciate being able to pay as per their wish.
Enable multi-recipient functionality:
Rather than having your customers simply place abundant of orders for holiday gifts, permit multi-recipient functionality. That way, you can remove unnecessary tension during the busy holiday season.
Enabling multi-recipient functionality permits your customers to send given items to other addresses, and that makes your store a one-stop-shop. Every single buyer would love that!
Often we’ll have one customer — generally ordering for a corporate gifting program — the one needing to send gifts to hundreds of different recipients, literally. Rather than placing a thousand unique orders, it’s much a better customer experience in case we can simply route various items to individual addresses, isn’t it?
11. Prepare to sell to your international customers
If you’re really looking toward expanding in the holiday season, then you should try boing global with your business, but that may sound intimidating. It should be a good part of your strategy for elevating your sales.
Of course, it’s the busiest selling period of the year. Hence you’ll need to take certain steps during this crucial planning period and make sure everything rolls on correctly and you avoid any huge-scale disasters during the holidays.
Know that selling internationally is not just a task for larger brands. Businesses of whatever sizes can plan to generate money global for the holidays until they use the perfect methods and plan effectively.
Begin by researching your markets well:
Taking your products internationally, but that’s not the first step. You need a better understanding of the customs, duties, taxes, and any other needs of the nations you are looking to sell in. That way, you can ensure that you position your business, products, services more effectively besides keeping your customers informed regarding charges they may sustain on their end.
Your research and planning should include your customers and their purchasing habits. No matter you have a clear understanding of your sales trends and buyer personas in your current market, it doesn’t mean this will be in another country.
Using tools such as PayPal’s PassPort Site will bring great information on global buying trends. You can learn what products are high in demand in your targeted sales country/region. This will help in structuring the best decisions considering positioning your business on a global level.
Test the markets early:
Take a gander at your present-time data and focus on where customers are already purchasing from. If specific nations are more popular than others, you can use this time to cherish those markets with your planned global selling strategy.
Consider expanding your reach by investing a bit more in these markets. The smart way is to start small by utilizing other sales channels like Amazon and eBay to gain a bigger presence in new countries. That way, you can test demand before committing fully and move with stronger strategies.
Concentrating on how these geographies perform before the upcoming holiday season provides you a better indication of departments worth investing in more in the future. This includes setting up a web presence specially dedicated to those locations.
Optimize your website:
If you’re optimizing your website, you’re actually dragging a lot of things in your favor. From ensuring to clearly display crucial shipping and delivery info per country to installing a dependable multi-language toggle for your site — you need to think about your customers all over this globe and their overall experience of using your website.
It’s also essential to recognize that different cultures might perceive pics & content differently. Colors are basically a prime example of this. In South Africa, the red color will symbolize mourning, and on the other hand, in Chinese culture, the red color represents a celebration. Consider your promotional materials and the process of tailoring your content so it can suit each sales region.
Indicating your customers around the world that you surely care about their purchases and also making strong relationships with them will assist you to enhance their lifetime value.
You might also need to consider building a fully targeted, specified website for a given region. For example, you already own a U.S. site; however, find online shoppers from Italy have a high interest in your products.
How would you cater to this market in an effective and materialistic manner? Setting up your website in a local domain name dedicated to the Italian market, along with currency conversion, delivery costs, text translation, all specific to that region, will provide you with high-end flexibility and provide your Italian customers with a much better shopping experience.
Try to take your discounts international:
Currently, the pandemic has pushed numerous consumers around the globe to shop online, and nearly all retailers currently believe online sales will indicate higher numbers in comparison to last year as a result.
While you establish your holiday promotions, consider beyond the Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday mayhem. Try to change up your messaging by identifying at the global promotional calendar, enhancing your sales with international purchasers in the quiet space before your everyday promotions begin.
Prime Day is basically scheduled to be delayed minimum-till October, which might make for a great time to provide discounts when consumers are searching for sales. This could also start the season of holiday shopping around the world with a boost.
Secure customers with various payment method options:
Now, while selling globally, a great portion of abandoned carts take place from customers not being able to pay via their preferred payment method while shopping online.
Buyers want to feel that sense of security and protection in making a purchase. That’s the reason using a payment gateway they very well recognize can highly help to increase those conversions.
Use a payment method that already holds a strong global reputation, for example, as PayPal. Already built into BigCommerce, it’s convenient to set u, PayPal. It’s used worldwide and is popular for its purchase protection.
Remember, it’s all about familiarity. Going global requires building trust, so doing whatever you can from your side to make the buying process as native and familiar to specific markets as possible will undoubtedly increase your sales besides improving your international presence.
12) Create an unforgettable packaging and unboxing experience
Some Ecommerce shops, besides just having a “brand,” often have a deeply rooted story, and such brands successfully create a nice bonding with their customers.
This story reminds buyers why they aren’t buying the product from a discount store or a huge marketplace but are instead reaching directly to your online store for your products. Yes, it’s crucial that you share this story on your website, social media channels, email communications, but there is no denying the impact of physically reading a message to make it stick. It’s all about psychology, guys!
And, at the time point of the year when your clients are prone to come home to a quantity of generic large RSC boxes from huge marketplaces that (getting somewhat funny, but factual here) contain more air than a product, you can perfectly set your company apart with a sweet and thoughtful packaging experience and that will certainly elevate your direct customer connection.
A normally printed name on your packaging makes all the difference to your customer’s experience. You can use your packaging to showcase your brand imagery and also as a reminder of your sustainability and resourcefulness. Isn’t that a cool idea?
13) Have a transparent and easy return policy.
In a few categories, like apparel, almost one-third of online purchases are returned. Furthermore, 96% of consumers will return to companies that made exchanges and returns as seamless as possible.
If you make returns painless, it’s not just gonna strengthen customer loyalty, but also benefits your operations. Fielding return requests consume customer service a lot of time. So, what’s the technique to build the perfect return process during this holiday season? Keep reading!
- Consider putting a return label on every single shipment that can be provided to the gift recipient.
- Include a short note that you can give to the recipient, showcasing the return or exchange process.
- Use resealable mailers (the ones with a “dual peel and seal”) or put an extra poly mailer to every single shipment.
- Include instructions regarding how gift recipients can easily reuse the original shipping package if they decide to return.
You risk losing the sale if you keep your return policy too strict during the holiday seasons.
In holiday time, you should be a bit more flexible and provide convenience to your shoppers when it comes to returns. We need to consider that simple thing do happen. Wrong sizes are ordered, expectations weren’t met, a product is faulty, etc.
The crucial thing for you to do is just build trust by ensuring your return policy is entirely fair and transparent.
Besides that, have a longer return window around Christmastime (we recommend until the end of January), so shoppers have enough time to return gifts. This is going to increase overall customer satisfaction. This way, you can keep them returning even after the holiday period is over.
14. Ensure your e-commerce platform includes 24/7 support
Yeah, that’s not the pie of everyone’s table. However, if you can, certainly do!
The worst holiday nightmare can be a crashed website on Cyber Week. You’ve already put forth tons of hard work, and then, your customers are disappointed in you and unable to make purchases. How terrific is that?
It’s often overlooked, but we need to consider support for your business can make or break for success. Now is the perfect time to ensure your eCommerce platform embraces 24/7 global support, industry-leading uptime, and premium security features.
Buying stuff doesn’t always go that straightforward. Depending on what you’re selling, a huge number of buyers may come up with queries, and if they get proper assistance at such times, there can be fewer order cancellations and returns.
If you’re going globally (as we advised up there), 24×7 customer support becomes even more important.
You’ve got a dedicated and hard-working support team behind your store. It’s time to take care of your customers now. The holidays are busy and sometimes pretty stressful as well. Be prepared to tackle any questions and concerns, besides information readily available.
Have dedicated support & respond to inquiries quickly:
Even when a thing goes wrong, a positive customer support experience certainly can lead to a loyal customer. You need to have dedicated support for phone, social media, email. Be certain to respond to whatever inquiries reach you within 24–48 hours. Now, if you want to enhance the customer experience further, you should consider adding chat support.
This year has been spent pathetic till now. So consumers and businesses are looking forward to the holiday season with more passion than ever. Several shoppers will be concentrating on gifts to send to close ones they haven’t seen all this year. Business owners are planning to cover up for lost revenue in 2020 and start 2021 with a smiling, positive note.
As you can notice, preparing your business for any year’s holiday shopping season is no small task. In 2020, more people will be ordering online; we all know that and whether they’re choosing products in-store or having them shipped, it’s crucial for the experience to be ultra-smooth from beginning to finish.
Once we leave behind 2020, several experts predict that whatever shopping trends that are adopted this year are going to be around for the long-term, and we can understand why. Prepping for the holiday season is an awesome way to set up your online store and mobile elements for everything the New Year brings your way.
Take holiday readiness with a well planned step-by-step approach. Even before your expectations, you’ll be on the golden way to welcoming jolly shoppers with comfort and pleasure.
The fact is, even if you’re waiting here for a week to plan everything, you’re actually losing opportunities! So, the advice is, right from here, and right now!