As we enter the home stretch toward the biggest gift-giving days of the year, you might be thinking “what’s done is done,” that it’s too late now to address any e-tail website issues. However, rather than wait until after the holidays and risk leaving last-minute shoppers disappointed and frustrated with your site — which could make a permanent bad impression — now is the time to take swift action.
There’s still plenty of time to make some quick upgrades to your site, systems and service to make sure you don’t miss out on any sales opportunities. Here are six quick tips you can implement right now to capitalize on the last remaining shopping days this year.
- Perfect your performance. Customers have extremely high expectations for site performance. They want fast-loading sites that give them what they want in less than five seconds with no delays on page rendering or checkout processing. Start by optimizing all of your image sizes with lower resolution for faster load times. Clean up code to make sure pages render quickly and reliably, and consider adding bandwidth capacity with your hosting provider to make sure you don’t get overloaded with traffic. Also, indulge customers’ need for speed with easy ordering services like one-touch checkout.
- Make it mobile. This year, more customers will browse and buy via mobile devices than ever before, so make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Not only is format important here, but again, speed is critical, so make sure your pages load on mobile just as quickly as on desktop. If you also have brick-and-mortar stores, be prepared to offer mobile payment options that let customers check out with their device in-store.
- Set up retargeting programs. When shoppers come to your site to browse, but leave before buying, make sure to have retargeting programs in place via banner ads, on social media and through email that will remind them of your brand. Cart abandonment emails are an absolute must, but other strategies can also work extremely well. Consumers who have browsed your site are more likely to click on your banner ad, Facebook ad or Instagram-sponsored post, especially if it’s relevant to the product(s) they browsed on the first visit.
- Communicate clearly. As we get down to the wire, make sure your in-time holiday shipping cut-off dates are prominently displayed so that shoppers know up-front and won’t be disappointed by gifts that don’t arrive in time. Adding a countdown timer to your homepage is a fun way to create a sense of urgency, which also helps to spur customers to buy. And while you’re at it, don’t forget your return policy. Make it obvious, simple and clear so that there are no misunderstandings.
- Prep your team. Aside from the technology piece, your “people” piece also needs to be in top-top shape. Make sure your customer service team is equipped to handle anything. They should be knowledgeable on all current promos, product information and policies. If something goes wrong on the site, they must be prepared to handle incoming phone orders quickly. One bad customer service experience can ruin a shopper’s perception of your business, but a stellar experience even in the wake of a less-than-ideal situation can help build an outstanding, long-term relationship.
- Don’t forget to measure. You’ll want to measure everything, from page views and conversions to email open rates and clickthroughs, plus all of the metrics around your advertising and social promotion campaigns. And once you’ve measured, don’t just stash that data away — act on it. Carefully examine what worked and what didn’t, and plan now to make adjustments next year so you don’t miss a single sales opportunity.
With so much on the line during this busiest season, it’s critical that you make the most out of every sales opportunity. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make sure you’ve optimized everything that’s within your control. Starting with this short list can help get you on — or back on — the right track to round out the season with success.
Herman Yau is the CEO of Tend, a maker of award-winning smart home products.