Is Your Online Store Ready for the Holiday Rush?
People are spending a lot more time inside than they used to, which has obviously led to more time online. We’re video chatting more, gaming more and, of course, shopping online more. Whether you’re peddling pet clothes, furniture or even medical essentials, you’re going to see a surge in orders as the pandemic holiday crush arrives. Here’s some easy-to-digest advice on shoring up your online store before the winter rush.
Make it Easy, Make it Clean
Making your store look good is easier than ever these days. Platforms like Squarespace and Shopify are fairly painless ways to create seamless, slick online stores from existing templates. If you’ve got a developer or marketing agency in the mix, even better as plugins greatly enhance the power and ease-of-use of your website.
Whichever route you take or have already taken, double-check to ensure the order process is simple, quick and seamless. Churn the peanut butter and go through the process yourself to make sure the road to checkout is less than four clicks. Make sure all the information your customer needs, like product photos, specs, and reviews, are skimmable on one page. Choose the product, add delivery or pickup address, billing information, and you should be at the end.
If you’re currently asking customers to sign up for an account or email list, or bouncing them in and out of their cart every time they add an item, you’re likely to lose a chunk of potential sales. Make setting up an account or opting into emails a one-click situation at the end of the process.
Reassure Your Customer at Checkout
There are some simple ways to reassure your customers that your business is legit, even if it's a new brand. PayPal and Visa both offer checkout options which you can add to your website. These payments are processed and backed by huge companies, ones which most people recognize immediately. Additionally, computer security companies like Norton can provide digital seals for your checkout page, as can the Better Business Bureau. Small logos and confirmations of steps taken can lead to a trusted relationship between the user and the checkout process.
Consider a Subscription Service
Everything from household goods to whiskey flights have adopted the subscription-based model. Monster brands like Amazon.com rely heavily on committed monthly refills of goods like toilet paper and soap, while smaller companies like coffee and pet food providers are starting to see the benefits of subscribed customers. Not only can it lower the costs for both you and your customers, it can help predict future income and give your business valuable insight into its inventory needs.
Upgrade Your Server Capacity
We’ve all been there: You go through all the steps to grab your favorite on-sale item, get to checkout, and are hit with an error message. It’s not uncommon these days for websites to collapse under increased demand. Some customers may try a second or third time, but many will give up after the first. Check with your website host and see if there’s other tiers you can upgrade your service to. Often you can pay more to accommodate increased data usage and processing power, and you can quickly cover that cost by creating a shopping experience your customers are happy to repeat.
OK, so you’ve made sure your warehouse is stocked, upgraded your server, and provided a seamless checkout process for your customers. No matter how much work you put in, something will eventually go wrong. Be sure to provide access to customer service for your customers, whether that’s an easy-to-find phone number, a designated chatbot on the website, or contact information provided with the order confirmation email. Even if something goes wrong, a helpful and eager solution can actually enhance the customer’s perception of your business.
Who’s Doing it Right?
There are plenty of companies, both large and small, that are getting it right when it comes to e-commerce. Their websites look awesome, their checkout processes are seamless, and they have excellent customer support. If you’re looking for some inspiration, take a gander at websites like Casper, Chewy, Warby Parker, and our client, Accu-Chek. While some require a few more steps to customize the order (e.g., Warby needs your prescription, Chewy has a bespoke subscription service), they all offer amazing customer service, simple pathways to checkout, and easy-to-navigate websites.
Mike Metz is the CEO of FATFREE, a full-service digital marketing agency providing lean solutions for businesses of all sizes. If you would like an evaluation of your e-commerce site to be sure you’re ready for the holiday shopping season, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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