After driving around this weekend and wandering into a few department stores, it’s clear that retailers have decided holiday shopping season is in full force. With that said, it’s time for e-tailers to make sure they have positioned themselves for success on the web this holiday shopping season. One common theme we find across our clients is that you need to present your site in a way that makes shoppers feel like your site was meant for holiday shopping. Tis the season after all.

Here are five tips to make sure your site is showing your gift-shopping visitors that it’s the best answer for all their gifting needs this year.

  • 1. Images. Take the time to get into the holiday spirit. Subtle enhancements or image changes on your site not only reinforce the credibility of your site to your regular users who notice these timely changes, but also reinforces the concept to unsure shoppers that your products are holiday shopping worthy. Take the time to swap out homepage banners with images of products dressed up with a holiday or gift theme. By tying your products together with these images, you help your customers visualize your products as their gifts, making it that much easier to buy.
  • 2. Messaging. Along with the images, let the site’s messaging help manage your customer’s expectations. Be sure to display what date customers can order until in order to receive their gifts in time for the holidays. This should be placed prominently throughout the site in order to remind customers what sort of timeframe they are operating on. Make sure for those of you in competitive markets to check how your latest order date compares to your competition to make sure you’re not losing business because of logistical issues.
  • 3. Assurances. With the continued growth of eCommerce, news and media outlets continue to caution consumers over Internet scams and fraud issues, particularly during the holiday season. Reassure consumers that your site and checkout process is safe and their information is secure—and you’ll see an increase in conversion rate. Check your security badges and assurances and make sure all of your links are up to date and functioning correctly in order to reinforce your legitimacy. AND if you’re currently not using any SSL certification and badges, now would be a great time to add some. While the studies still vary on the impact of these tools, chances are your users will be looking at what’s not there as much as what is.
  • 4. Guidance. The fact is some customers need help making decisions, and they are looking for that help when they’re shopping online, just as if they were standing in front of you in an actual store. However, the key to doing this successfully online is to guide them towards gifts in different ways. Different types of shoppers will need to be able to find the same product through different means. Some shop by price, some shop by popularity, some will shop by recommendations. Providing special pages like “Gifts for Him” or “Gifts for Her” and allowing people to shop by the previously mentioned filters can be a great way to assist and persuade a potential customer to feel confident enough to purchase.
  • 5. Value. Increasing an order’s average value is a strategical way to improve conversion and profits during the holidays. This tip requires some planning and has to be done right. Example: Providing the option to gift wrap items is huge for conversion and can do great things to your average order for a two month span. Now, if you’re not providing this year round you need to figure out how to coordinate this on the backend, but also take a look to see if your competition is providing this service and what they’re charging. If you do go with this, make sure to promote it as it can be a great differentiator over your competition. If you can’t do gift wrapping, look at putting a gift card as a related product to all products in your store and even potentially placing this on the shopping cart page as a last minute upsell.

Remember, the holiday shopping season allows you to expose your business to a whole new customer base that may not be as familiar with your website or product offering. They are looking for reinforcement on why to buy the product and why to buy it from you. If you can deliver a great experience and product, you’ve got a new customer segment for post-holiday marketing efforts.

Mack McGee
Executive VP & Principal

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