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8 Tips to Prepare Your Ecommerce Store for the Holiday Season

Posted on 7th November '16 in Ecommerce - Comments

8 Tips to Prepare Your Ecommerce Store for the Holiday Season

Enough about MAP policies for a moment! We’re giddy about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Don’t wait too long. These next two months are a shopper’s dream.


The holiday season brings so much cheer, happiness, and… loads of preparation! We want to share some goodies to make sure your ecommerce store increases the number of purchases while millions of shoppers do what they love.



GETTING YOUR ONLINE STORE READY FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPERS

If you haven’t already started, we highly encourage you to crack the whip now to get your store all decked out for the holidays. There are definitely eager beaver shoppers out there who start their holiday shopping in September or earlier, and now that it's November, there will be many more shoppers visiting your site.


Aside from ensuring your brand’s ecommerce store is mobile ready, prepared to handle lots of traffic, and secure, here are some other topics to consider:


Cart abandonment - don’t let them get away!

Approximately 67% of customers abandon their online shopping carts before they make a purchase. That’s a super crazy high number! If you don’t have any follow-up in place, there’s a lot of potential customers and revenue left on the table. On a regular day, two-thirds of your traffic is probably quite high; imagine the holidays where traffic increases!


When a potential customer adds to their cart and/or makes it further down the checkout process, that’s a good indication of a person’s intent to buy. But for whatever reason, they didn’t complete the transaction -- maybe they didn’t have the time, needed to double check a size, wanted to ask someone’s permission, or were busy doing something else. Who knows?! All we know is that it happens, and you can capitalize on this fact.


There’s a huge opportunity to convert these individuals with cart abandonment emails. Usually, it’s a sequence of emails over a certain period of time to say “Hey! Did you forget about product x, we wanted to remind you!” Rejoiner has an excellent guide on how to setup a cart abandonment email campaign to make sure those prospects convert. If you haven’t created a campaign before, they recommend beginning with a 3-email sequence with little reminders sent out 30-minutes, 24 hours, and 3-5 days after the individual abandons their cart.


Remember, people needed to be reminded, poked, and prodded several times before they make a purchase. Cart abandonment emails are a great way to keep your brand’s products top of mind, while increasing the number of touchpoints needed before a shopper actually converts.


Use social media - take a pic, it lasts longer.

If you’re a consumer-facing brand, the holiday season is the perfect time to make lots of noise and share images of the products that you’ll be promoting! According to WooCommerce, about “73% of holiday purchasing decisions are influenced by coupons or promotions.”


One of the best ways to capture a customer’s attention and spread the word is through visually engaging content. With the overwhelming amount of promotions going on during this time, a simple image is the best way for customers to take notice and share what you have to say.


Consider running a holiday contest and/or create a holiday campaign across popular social media channels. We recommend Instagram, Snapchat, and/or Pinterest! Maybe try a ‘12 Days of Christmas’ campaign or contest on Instagram showcasing different products or a create a Pinterest board that has all the favorite things that your team likes to do / see / eat during the holidays. Keep things light, fun, and refreshing.


Create landing pages for holiday offers - measure what you’re doing

If you’re running any kind of campaign or contest, whether it be for the holidays or not, always create a landing page! This will tell you what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what you need to do for next year. The proof is in the pudding -- you can see what promotions are more popular and if a product is doing well, along with insights into how your marketing efforts are doing.


Take a look at Kissmetrics guide to get details on how to set up a landing page. Some important things to keep in mind are: have concise and catchy copy, a clear call-to-action, and all the critical information is at the top. Landing pages can vary as pages that simply capture visitor information or showcase products for holiday promotions. Check out Unbounce or Instapage to get started on your landing pages.


Cross-promote and upsell - don’t just stop with what’s in the cart.

Think about a time when you’ve been in the grocery store. While you’re waiting in line to pay, you see a chocolate bar that you’ve been craving or a razor that you forgot you needed that wasn’t originally on your to-buy list when you walked into the store. This is called the “impulse buy”. Creating that same kind of experience and feeling online can be done in two ways (1) through your email campaigns or (2) on your website, on product pages, at checkout, as a popup, etc.


If you have the proper tracking setup on your website, you can tailor the entire customer experience so you can trigger that impulse buy. Once tracking is setup, you can:


  • Cross-promote products: For example, if a visitor has product A in their cart or recently purchased product B, you can show related products, other products that customers bought at the same time as product A and B, or recommended products. Ideally, you want to feature products that complement the product that your customer is interested in and/or has bought.

  • Upsell products: Customers might not be aware that products come in bigger sizes, volumes, or that you can add extra features, etc. Always make sure that you present them with all the “nice-to-have” options. Typically, this is best done at checkout.


According to Shopify, roughly 10-30% of ecommerce revenues comes from the above, so it’s worthwhile to focus on efforts to increase the average order value from the beginning. Check out Shopify’s info on increasing your revenue through upselling and cross-promoting.


Top products - put them in the spotlight!

For your top selling products, make sure you put them front and center on your website. Position them at the top of the website, build a landing page for them, and/or create a campaign or contest to let the world know about these products. Oftentimes, holiday shoppers purchase the top products because it’s tried and tested, there’s a reason why they are at the top of your product list, and it can be easier than shopping through your entire offering. If they do well on a good old regular day, they’ll likely do super well during the holiday season.


Customer service - get your team to roll up their sleeves!

Now, with the influx of customers flooding your website, your team needs to be well informed and ready on all customer support channels, including the phone, email, live chat, social media, and any other contact methods that customers can reach you.


There are bound to be more questions and complaints, so it’s best to increase the number of people on your team for this time period and/or find a way to automate certain parts of the process to remove the load from your team. Just as important is the time leading up to the holiday season. January and February are also peak times for returns and exchanges. Make sure you set expectations for response times early. If a brand is able to deliver top quality customer service during their busiest times, they will win over exponentially more customers because they don’t leave people hanging and waiting for responses (which is when shoppers will typically browse other brands).


If you’re looking for a way to manage your online customer service issues, look into Zendesk or Freshdesk, or for overall customer communications, Intercom.


Shipping and return/exchange policies - make them holiday-friendly

According to HubSpot, one of the top reasons that shoppers abandon their carts is because of unexpected shipping costs that inflate the total amount at checkout beyond what they thought they would be (or led to believe).


We know that feeling when you have something in your cart, see the estimated total, and then go to the final page of checkout only to be greeted with unexpectedly high shipping costs -- we’ve been there! To make sure you don’t lose out on these customers, consider adjusting your shipping costs. Maybe offer a flat rate or require shoppers to make a minimum purchase to receive free shipping. The most important thing is removing the element of surprise! Set the expectation from the beginning, and shoppers will be likely to run away.


Another thing to take a look at is your return and exchange policy. Two things here: with many purchases being made as gifts for others, the holiday season is a time for people to return or exchange the gifts they don’t like, don’t want, doesn’t fit, don’t need, or whatever reason may be. Make the experience as easy as possible for them AND you. A flexible and simple return and exchange process could make the difference in a shopper choosing your brand over another.


Review your return and exchange policy and make sure it doesn't cause any major headaches. Once you’ve done that, make sure the policy is highlighted on your store - make it more prominent, add a popup or some message during checkout, send out an email, or add a reminder to receipts.


Payment methods - the more, the merrier

What methods of payment do you currently offer? Some shoppers won’t purchase from a store if they don’t have a certain payment method available. Along with the major credit providers, have you thought about PayPal, gift cards, and maybe Bitcoin (ok...maybe a little too in the future)? By opening up the options for paying, you also increase the chances of a customer making a purchase.



CONCLUSION

That’s our roundup of tips for getting your brand’s ecommerce store prepared for the holiday season. Have you tried any of these tactics? What worked? What didn’t work? We want to hear your stories!


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