On the Web: An E-Commerce Holiday Checklist, Part 1
Here's a checklist of some of the most important things you should do with your website to get ready for the upcoming holiday season:
Promote in-stock messaging. Availability is a big issue for a lot of folks, especially around the holidays, so make sure your messaging provides product availability and delivery times near the pricing information. Use phrases like "In Stock!" or "Ships Today!" If you're already an availability messaging whiz, test rolling out deadline tickers that emphasize urgency and cause people to act fast. "Need it tomorrow? Order within the next 3 hours and 33 minutes and you'll get it by noon!" Amazon.com does a great job with this.
Also, increase the size of your action directives. Keep in mind, the bigger the buttons the better and the more the merrier. Ask for the order (or inquiry if you're a lead-generation business) in every view. Retailers design pages but consumers see views — there's a very big difference between the two.
Navigation and Internal Navigation
Site search is one of the most difficult things to master. Start by looking at the top 100 searches conducted on your site this year and make sure those words are better represented in your navigation.
It's important to remember that the order in which you present site search results is critical to your success. Take that list of 100 top searches and conduct them yourself, one by one. Review each result. The item you most want to sell should come up first, with the rest in descending priority.
Be sure to review your refinements as well. Due to the onslaught of guided navigation, many companies have gotten really sloppy with this. When people choose "sort by best-sellers" from your drop-down menu, for example, they should get your top-selling products, not a hodgepodge of garbage. Same goes with your new products. If someone is sorting by "new" and they get all your items from fall 2008, it diminishes your search credibility — one of the top two reasons why users abandon searches. Again, if you take your top 100 searches, you'll get a good indication of how you're measuring up in this area.