Whether you’re an online retail veteran or an ecommerce novice, you know the holiday shopping season can make or break a business.
In a previous blog post, we listed three important site updates an ecommerce company must make if it wants to knock it out of the park this holiday season.
Here are another three retail website design updates that can help you leave your competitors in the dust.
Create Holiday-Themed Content
This may sound counterintuitive because content pieces technically don’t have anything to do with sales. But any successful B2B brand can tell you that content is a very powerful tool for generating demand without appearing salesy. When you offer shoppers helpful content, it shows your company cares about its audience. Your business stops being just another ecommerce store yelling, “Buy our stuff now!”
A good jumping off point for holiday-themed content is a “Gift Guide” that matches your products with different types of recipients.
Murad is a popular brand of skincare products. Its gift guide has recipients divided by interest and offers shoppers a few different options, including less expensive and more expensive items:
Tiffany & Co. chose to keep the landing page for its gift guide more simple, with no product images and only two categories:
After a shopper clicks “Make Her World Sparkle” or “Make His World Sparkle,” he or she can view various product recommendations:
Another option is to offer informative content, such as this series of How To graphics and fabric care cheat sheet from Scarves.com:
Optimize for Traffic Increases
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’ll (hopefully) see a large spike in traffic. And if you’d rather not recreate Best Buy’s Black Friday nightmare, you’ll need to make sure your site can accommodate the influx of visitors.
Adding small holiday-themed touches to your site is a great idea, but you shouldn’t make any major revisions to your ecommerce site design. This includes changing the layout, updating the navigation menu, or altering the URL structure. This can cause annoying (or even catastrophic) glitches and HTTP errors.
Your web hosting company and its servers can only handle so much traffic at one time. If the server doesn’t have the resources to handle a spike in the number of visitors, your site may slow to a crawl. According to Google, ecommerce websites should take no longer than two seconds to load. And a study by Soasta showed one second of added page load time can lead to a 27% lower conversion rate.
A smart choice for online retailers is to invest in a Content Delivery Network (CDN). With a CDN, your site content is hosted on multiple servers within the network. When a visitor lands on your site, the content is delivered from the server closest to the geographic location of the user. This reduces the load time since the data can be transferred more quickly.
Streamline the Checkout Process
Did you know the average cart abandonment rate is nearly 70%? More than ⅔ of your customers spend time browsing your site and adding items to their carts, only to bail right as they’re about to click “Place Order.”
So how do you get holiday customers to take that final step? Make sure your checkout process is the most uncomplicated part of the shopping experience with these retail website design updates:
1. Give shoppers the option to autocomplete their billing address using their shipping address. It may only save a couple seconds, but it still gets shoppers to the final step more rapidly.
2. Don’t force shoppers to create an account to complete their order; allow them to continue as a guest and give them an option to register later.
3. Include security seals such as Norton, BBB, and McAfee. This helps the customer feel more comfortable handing over sensitive information.
4. Enable shoppers to save items for later. They might not be able to complete the order right now but are planning on doing it later. If they find out they’ll have to add everything to their cart again, they might desert the order altogether.
5. Offer multiple payment options beyond credit cards, such as PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, or Amazon Pay. And while we’re talking about it, don’t ask for payment information until the final step. Requiring these details too early in the process can make shoppers feel anxious.
6. Be upfront about all costs associated with the purchase (such as taxes and shipping costs) and show the final price before checkout. Finding out at the last step that the order total is higher than anticipated is not a happy surprise — especially when you’re on a budget.
7. Finally, and most importantly, make your checkout process mobile-friendly. This includes increasing the size of buttons to make them easier to tap, aligning form fields vertically, and only requiring the most vital information.
Don’t let a subpar website keep you from killing it during the holidays. Make sure your site is just as impressive as the products you sell.