Holiday sales are expected to be bigger than ever this year. Research firm eMarketer predicts that online retail sales in November and December will grow as much as 13.9 percent over last year, to reach $79 billion – about 9 percent of all retail sales.
Forrester Research Inc. reports, in an article in Fortune Magazine, that online sales now generate about 10 percent of all retail sales – but that rises to 15 percent during the holiday season, as consumers look for deals and ways to make holiday shopping easier.
Cyber Monday delivered the biggest online spending day last year, with $2.038 billion in sales from desktop computers. This year, Adobe predicts that figure will climb to a record $3 billion – followed closely by Black Friday, with $2.7 billion.
It’s not too late to cash in. According to RJMetrics, the days from Black Friday to Christmas pull in 50 percent to 100 percent more ecommerce revenue than the rest of the year. Here are some strategies you can adopt to reap the rewards:
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly. Having a responsive website in 2015 is a retail requirement. As much as 51 percent of holiday shopping is expected to take place on mobile devices.
- Ensure that website pages load quickly so users won’t abandon your site. You have six to 10 seconds before most users will leave, according to Kissmetrics. You can use traffic management and optimization tools to alert you to downtime and sluggish performance.
- Personalize the experience you offer each user, according to his or her history of interests, behaviors and transactions.
- Add social sharing buttons to your product pages and turn your customers into salespeople.
- Make the checkout process easy. According to Baymard Institute, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.53 percent. Here are ways to improve on that average:
- Allow for guest checkout, so users don’t have to create an account
- Show a progress bar
- Require only essential information
- Accept multiple payment options
- Auto-fill fields
- Display security badges to reinforce trust
- Offer free shipping. Shipping costs are the No. 1 reason customers abandon their shopping carts. According to a 2015 comScore study, 58 percent of online shoppers added items to their shopping cart to qualify for free shipping. More than 80 percent are willing to wait an additional two days for delivery if shipping is free, and 68 percent said free returns are needed to complete a sale. **Become part of Free Shipping Day on Dec. 18. You can use the hashtag #freeshipping to get extra exposure for your brand.**
- Take advantage of Cyber Monday – the most heavily discounted online shopping day. No matter what industry you’re in, expect shoppers to be looking for discounts in every category on that day.
- Take advantage of pay-per-click advertising by bidding on gift-related keywords like “Gifts for Dad” or “Gifts for Kids.” Consider ads on Pandora, an internet music service, as well as YouTube.
- Implement a Christmas countdown sale. It will give customers a sense of urgency – and it gives you an excuse to reach out to your online audience every day until Christmas. You can discount a different product or service each day. You’ll have your audience looking forward to your daily offers.
- Create a gift guide. Shoppers aren’t necessarily looking for specific products. They’re also looking for gift ideas. Help them out by sharing lists of budget-friendly gifts that target different customer groups. Once Christmas is over, keep it up: switch your promotions to after-Christmas sales.
- Give back. Show your corporate social responsibility by announcing that you’ll donate a certain portion of your holiday proceeds to a particular charity.
A little extra effort can go a long way at this time of year, even at the last minute. Just remember – the best way to benefit from the holiday is to make your customers happy. Offer them great deals, free shipping and easy checkout, and you’re bound to experience a season full of holiday cheer.