Each year, as we approach the holidays, our e-commerce clients often ask us, “How do we leverage existing technology to improve/boost revenue in a short period of time?”. Each business is different, so our answer is always a bit different. However, there are several tactical ideas that most e-commerce merchants should consider.
The challenge is that there isn’t much time to prepare. Sharing complex concepts and expecting merchants to be able to put them in place by Black Friday, isn’t realistic. Instead, Accorin’s digital marketing and e-commerce strategy experts, Eugene Slobodetsky and Jackie Keehan have outlined 15 relatively simple tactics to optimize your e-commerce experience this holiday season.
Merchants can expand on this list, but it’s a helpful thought starter that we’ve divided into 4 key areas:
- Conversion Optimization & UX Ideas
- Marketing & Promotions Ideas
- Site Performance
Conversion Optimization & UX Ideas
1. Optimize your Payment options:
- Provide alternative payment options. Buy now/ Pay later, Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay and Uplift are some examples. You can find a full list of alternative payment options, here.
- Install native forms of payment, if your payment gateway supports it. Apple Pay, Google Pay, Shop Pay, etc. will all reduce the customer’s friction at checkout and build trust.
2. If you don’t already have it, install live chat. If you already have it, extend the hours of live chat support and use canned responses for FAQ’s for after hours.
3. Create dedicated landing pages for traffic channels. ie. PPC/email/social. It will take slightly more time to setup and manage, but will let you to use appropriate messaging/offers for each. If you have time, test any offers you want to integrate with the holiday season ahead of time so you know which ones will convert best.
4. A pre-holiday push with gamification can increase interest in categories of products, add-ons, upsells and cross-sells. E.g. Identify bundles ahead of time, but ‘game’ your users into higher discounts by leading them to add more of the bundle items to their cart.
5. Flash sales are still great traffic drivers. If you convey a sense of urgency they always perform well. Be careful to balance flash sale ideas with the opportunity for high profit margins during the busy shopping period.
6. Use purpose to drive conversion. Charitable donations with purchase are increasingly popular. “Every purchase this holiday season will result in an $X donation to Y – one of our favorite causes!” (Or allow the customer to choose their preferred charity).
7. Fine tune your abandoned cart and abandoned browse messaging. At a minimum, review it and update it. Make sure the products left in the cart are accurately shown along with associated data.
Marketing & Promotions Ideas
8. Update your high-visibility website real estate with key holiday messaging/information. e.g. Homepage banners should showcase holiday season products and offers. Don’t make your customers struggle to find shipping dates/return policy and/or promos!
9. Change up or re-order the navigation to include links to gift guides/gift landing pages. As a part of this, be sure to address site search priorities as well if you can. For those without site search consider adding it (but only if you are sure it functions well).
10. If you don’t already, offer free shipping / free returns for the holiday season. This is still a big deal for consumers, even though most know that ‘free’ doesn’t really mean ‘free’, and the costs are often baked into the cost of the product. Consider extending your period of returns past 30 days.
11. Buy online return in store and curb-side pick up. In addition to giving your customers choices of how they receive their purchase, it provides an upsell opportunity for you when they come to the store to collect.
12. Use loss leaders to get buyers shopping. Use less popular products that people normally don’t buy online, or inventory that you need to get rid of. Create a value added reason to purchase to get rid of inventory where needed.
13. Use promotional strategies, such as:
- Buy 3 get one free/ Bundles/Harvest dollars – get “X” off future purchase/cross promotions to increase AOV (average order value).
- Gift cards and Gift eCards. There’s no shipping deadline for these items. You can offer, promote, sell and reap the rewards all the way through the Holidays, and beyond!
Site Performance and Accessibility
14. Prioritize improving site speed! Don’t let slow load times scare your customers away, especially at a time when you’ll be expecting elevated traffic. Have your development team do performance audits or at a minimum do a speed test on several key pages. We recommend GTMetrix for this. The most common needs will be to:
- Reduce image and video size – if video is slowing your site down consider shortening or removing from key shopping pages.
- Clean up API calls or apps that are dragging down site speed.
- Don’t ignore mobile! Test your site performance on mobile and adjust content and CDN modifications based on what you learn. Google’s Page Speed Insights tool allows you to compare mobile and desktop speed.
15. Last but certainly not least, let’s remember to make sure the experience is accessible for all! Follow the appropriate accessibility guidelines, making sure your code and content is setup so that those with disabilities can have a great shopping experience and access to your products to.
The Bottom Line
Every business is different and every e-commerce team has competing priorities as they prepare for the holiday season. Many merchants realize a significant portion of their annual revenue in Q4 – for some it’s well over 50%!
Even small enhancements, can lead to big revenue improvements. Collectively, if done right, they can significantly move the needle of your business.
If you’d like help thinking about how you can take care of conversion issues prior to the upcoming holiday season contact us!