Although most major retailers started their online holiday marketing about one month ago, smaller retailers are still scrambling to find ways to deal with the shortened holiday period. This year, retailers are more concerned as the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas is shorter due to Thanksgiving landing at the end of November versus the third week.
But according to research firm eMarketer.com, many retailers will be using and testing new technology to increase online sales. Analyst Yory Wurmser, from eMarketer, is predicting a 16.6 percent in e-commerce growth. Wurmser states, “This stellar growth rate should push e-commerce’s share to 8.4 percent, up from 7.6 percent last year.”
Well, if you want to be one of those retailers with increased e-commerce sales, review the following guidelines for getting your website consumer-ready in record time.
Major website changes were best made months prior to the holiday season, so since we are in December already, do not apply major changes to your website structure or key landing pages. Use the following techniques instead:
- Product pages from 2013 have probably gained some page rank and back links could be high. You can place a redirect 301 to the new product pages for 2014 or even similar products to improve ranking and authority.
- Mobile devices: Most retailers have 40% or more of their traffic coming from smart devices and mobile phones. Prepare your website, responsive code, speed and user experience for mobile users. Make sure your mobile bounce, cart abandonment and conversion rates are close to your desktop traffic rates.
- Update your home page design with a holiday theme. A single slider image will do. Add links to your gift section. If you don’t have one, create a custom category and put some items in there that are good gift ideas. Gift card is another idea that will help sell more of your products.
- Add some holiday terms to your key landing pages and help search engines relate your products with gift and holiday terms like your product + gift , gift ideas, holiday gifts and terms like that. A quick competitive search analysis with such keyword suggestions will give you ideas on how best to optimize your pages.
- Do not make people think when they stop on your landing pages. Lead them to the conversion. When people stop and think, that creates friction which will increase bounce rate. Avoid bold changes to your landing pages in holiday season. Just work with minor changes with high impact. A/B test but not aggressively. Note that your audience buying behavior changes over the holiday season and you can’t rely on your A/B test results for a year round campaign.
- Optimize your custom 404 pages for the holiday season and make sure they point to your gift pages.
- Consider expanding multi-channel ecommerce. Distribute your inventory to other platforms like Amazon, eBay and others large online retailers. Additional ideas are applications like Netsuite.com, which provides a single administration platform. Use products that you can offer at a competitive price.
- Offer pre-holiday sales promotions all the way leading up to Christmas and possibly New Years. Offer different deals to match those sent out prior to the holidays. Also try to offer specific holiday promotions.
- Offer post-holiday promotions. After holiday bargain hunting is still very popular. Many try to find bargains in between Christmas and New Years Day.
- Offer and distribute coupon codes. This will help improve conversion rate.
- Use Comparison-Shopping sites to increase brand awareness and sales, such as Shopping.com, pricegrabber.com and nextag.com. Normally the commission rates are higher during the holiday season but it’s worth it to try with your competitive products.
Above all, realize that it is never too late to jump into the holiday fray of online sales activities. Frenzied shoppers are using social media platforms and other online methods to track the best promotions, prices and deals so become as visible as possible with the most attractive deals your business can provide.