Seven Ways to Make your Ecommerce Site Bring Home the Turkey This Christmas

This year, online holiday sales in the UK are set to increase by roughly 19.5% over 2013, which means about £17.4bn in sales will be transacted. If you own an ecommerce site, now is the time to maximise your existing tactics and tools in order to bring more consumers to you. It’s also time to prepare your site for the additional activity. Here are seven sure-fire ways to increase site activity and improve sales this holiday season.

1) Test Site Performance

The single most important factor to consider during the holiday shopping season is your site’s performance. Can it handle traffic spikes? Is it optimised for load speed? The average person becomes frustrated by just a two second delay, and if a page takes more than three seconds to load, your bounce rate will increase exponentially. So, yes, how a site performs is critical to its success. Consider these questions when assessing your site’s performance:

  • What Content Delivery Network are you using?
  • Are you using CSS sprites?
  • Have you minified code?
  • Are third party scripts (social sharing, web analytics) interfering?
  • Do you test your site regularly?

2) Get Festive

Update the images on your website and business social media accounts by giving them a holiday feel. Images of Christmas trees, snowflakes and snowmen not only help spread holiday spirit, but they will also put your site visitors in the mood to shop for their loved ones. It is also an excellent way to let your customers know that you are prepared for the holidays and serious about driving business on your site.

You could also customise your company logo by adding lights, snow, or another wintry visual. It’s the same thing done by Google throughout the year. The updated logo could then be placed across all of your social media accounts, as well as your business website(s).

3) Trumpet Your Value Proposition

Every business is going to be offering discounts and free shipping online this holiday season. So, you need to come up with something more substantial, or at the very least, you need to make your business stand out from the pack. You don’t have to give away the farm to get consumer to buy from you, but creativity will capture the buyer’s attention.

Even if you do plan to offer similar deals as your competitors, sell your business along with the offer. Let your site visitors know why they should choose your business over all the others.  Post your value proposition in every offer, whether it’s in an email, on a landing page or on your website’s homepage.

4) Maximise Social Media Outlets

An easy, cost free way to advertise for the holiday season is to use your social media accounts. Advertise your holiday sales on your company’s Twitter page or Facebook account, linking them to your website. Your followers will do the rest when they begin sharing your tweets and Facebook posts.

If each of your Facebook followers ‘likes’ your advertised sale, each of their followers will see it, and that exposure creates the potential for more customers through even more page ‘likes’. The exposure for your company becomes exponential, and it’s all free.

When you consider the fact that Twitter’s 284 million active monthly users combined send 500 million tweets a day, it’s easy to appreciate the potential impact a few simple tweets can have on the success of your company’s Christmas sales. If your followers retweet your promotion to their followers, imagine how many people will eventually become aware of not only your business and website, but your holiday sales, too.

5) Capture Mobile Buyers

It is estimated that over one-quarter of online sales are transacted via tablet or smartphone in the UK, and that figure is only expected to increase. So, to maximise your chance at holiday sales success, make sure your business website can handle all platforms. Use responsive design to allow your web pages to load properly on every device. That way you won’t miss out on over 25% of the consumers who are shopping online with their mobile devices.

6) Return Business Discounts

Give customers who have recently made a purchase an incentive to return to your website by offering them a discount or free item(s) if they purchase from you again before Christmas. (Try it for post-holiday purchases, too, and that way they spend money with you both before and after Christmas.)

As an example, several famous retailers hand their customers a coupon with their receipt when they purchase items in their stores, or they will e-mail a similar coupon to them after the completion of an online purchase. The coupons are good for generally 25% to 50% off their next in-store or online purchase.

The catch is that those coupons have a very short shelf life, usually expiring within two weeks. Alternatively, they are for a specific, and very short time period, in the future. In this way, they are drawing the customer back, but adding urgency to it by putting a very specific time constraint on the offer.

7) Consider Loss Leaders

These work well for online retailers. Set up your ads to highlight products that are on clearance, or that you are offering as loss leaders. Then, list them on your home page or landing pages as well. This will lure customers to your site to purchase those items, and possibly more. While customers are on your site, your advertised items will be on full display and, since the customer is making a purchase anyway, he will be inclined to purchase additional sale and regular-priced items.

Note: Keep close tabs on your paid advertisements. If you sell out of an item, remove or replace the ad immediately.

When devising a strategy to get the most out of your ecommerce site this holiday season, consider not only what to do with your site, but also what to do with other tools that will lead more people to your site. Utilising your social media accounts and investing in responsive design are useful complements to ongoing site testing and myriad sales tactics. Use these seven tips as the framework for your holiday ecommerce strategy and your site will perform well for you this holiday season.