3 Tips to Drive E-Commerce Sales This Holiday Season
It's no secret that the holiday season is a bustling time for brick-and-mortar retailers. Times are quickly changing, however, as a recent survey conducted by LivePerson shows that more than half of consumers are planning to do the majority of their holiday shopping online this year. Forget long lines and over-eager doorbusters, today's holiday shopper is browsing for deals from the comfort of their couch and looking to interact with their favorite brands digitally.
During this busy season, how can retailers engage consumers the moment they hit their website, increase conversion rates and provide a better overall shopping experience online? Here are three essential steps retailers need to take in order to drive a new level of success this holiday season:
1. Plan timely campaigns around peak shopping days. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are important shopping days for consumers, survey findings show that consumers are, in fact, doing a majority of their gift buying before Thanksgiving. In order to drive more conversions during these peak periods, consider offering "order by date" promotions tied to free shipping offers or other discounts in order to incentivize purchase completion. Retailers who have access to customer analytics or other behavioral targeting tools should leverage customer purchase history, geolocation, click behavior and other information to deploy customized offers. Doing so creates a more personalized experience as well as helps reduce cart abandonment rates.
It's also important to prep your website for holiday shoppers and make popular gift items easy to find. Highlight the most sought after seasonal products and services on your homepage and throughout your site to ensure visibility and one-click access to products. You can also display related items and services on product pages to help boost average order value. Finally, since shipping is a key factor for holiday purchases, make sure your shipping fees and timetables are prominent and easy to find.
2. Offer live assistance to your holiday shoppers. The quality of your customer service can make or break the shopping experience for many consumers, especially during the stressful holiday rush. Make it easy for your customers to get help by making customer service information easily accessible. Consider offering real-time assistance online via live chat so visitors can speak immediately with a live agent without having to switch communication channels.
According to LivePerson's Online Holiday Shopping survey, live chat is the preferred channel for customer service. Consumers that have to wait on the phone or wait several days for an email response are far more likely to abandon their purchase altogether and move to another site. Also, as inquiry volumes spike during the holiday season, be certain to scale and prepare your support staff. Ensure that your sales and service associates are well-versed to offer support on all channels, including your website, mobile apps/sites and social media pages.
3. Embrace the mobile holiday shopper. In that same survey from LivePerson, one in four shoppers said they'd be making gift purchases via their mobile device. It's becoming increasingly important for retailers to have a mobile-specific strategy and provide a seamless shopping experience in this growing channel. First, the obvious: Retailers must have sites that are optimized for the smaller screen and touch-based experience of mobile devices. Ensure that your mobile website is simplified and easier to navigate than its desktop counterpart. This means easily maneuverable homepages and menus, as well as a simplified checkout process. Also make sure that shoppers can easily save items on their phones so that they're able to continue the shopping process on their laptop or another device of their choosing.
The most effective mobile sites are equipped with readily available customer service options. Mobile shoppers traditionally have higher bounce rates because it can be difficult to find what you're looking for on a smaller device. Therefore, your customer service information should be effortless to locate on your mobile site and/or app. Consider deploying live chat on your mobile site or app; one in three survey respondents said they'd likely use live chat to get assistance while browsing a mobile site or shopping in-store.
The holiday shopping season is in full swing. Providing timely campaigns, personalized offers, quality online customer service and a seamless experience across all devices will help build your brand's reputation, increase sales and create long-lasting relationships with shoppers.