5 Ways to Optimize Your E-Commerce Site for the Holidays
Cyber Monday is quickly becoming the antidote to what many dread about Black Friday — hordes of shoppers, long lines and amped adrenaline as the holiday shopping season officially kicks off. Americans are expected to spend $3 billion this Cyber Monday, a 12 percent increase from last year. Therefore, it’s vital that online retailers take notice and make sure they’re ready.
Smart e-tailers have prepared for the holiday season well in advance. But even if you’re late to the game, there are still ways to optimize for Cyber Monday and the holidays. Consider these tips:
1. Streamline your user experience. This should be a regular practice for any e-commerce company, but with Cyber Monday approaching, it’s more important than ever. Double-check to make sure user experience is streamlined and load times are fast. A complete mobile overhaul might be too much to bite off, so focus on smaller issues, such as optimizing site speed and page load times. Eliminate or minimize broken links, oversized image files, and too many redirects. Also, make sure high-volume touchpoints (e.g., customer service chat tools, FAQs) are operating seamlessly.
2. Maximize mobile. Mobile commerce, which already accounts for 22 percent of the e-commerce share, is expected to increase by 33 percent this year to $77 billion, according to eMarketer, and will double again by 2019. This was less of a factor when we launched our company, V2, in 2009, but six years later the trend is undeniable: consumers will be purchasing via mobile. What’s more, it’s not enough to have optimized one’s website content for mobile. The e-commerce capability must also be functional on a handheld device.
Don't forget to maximize mobile in other ways, too. Going beyond Cyber Monday, incorporate ways mobile can enhance the in-store experience if relevant — with QXR codes, an easy-to-use product finder or a comparison shopping app.
3. Learn from data — last year’s and current. By now, data analytics should be every e-tailer’s best friend. Look at everything from what deals and discounts worked to adjusting levels of inventory to best take advantage of the opportunity this year. Predictive analytics tools can also be used to make intelligent offerings in real time, such as the next best offer, product or content for each customer across different channels.
4. Beef up content. Have plenty of high-quality content for search engine optimization purposes, ensuring your landing pages are indexed by the time shoppers start looking for product. Incorporate content marketing ahead of time if possible and continue throughout the holiday shopping season, including assets like video product demonstrations, blog posts, media placements and tip sheets.
5. Personalize for target audiences. Retailers that target pricing and product for local markets are most successful with online shoppers. Use ZIP codes, weather data and other regional factors to be specific with targeted marketing. Also, be sure to offer gift guides for different demographics, making it as easy as possible to facilitate Cyber Monday shopping. This tactic tends to drive up average order value.
Jan Verleur is co-founder and CEO of V2, an online retailer of electronic cigarettes.