eCommerce tips: Optimize your store for the holidays

6 min read
Jon Hansen

Is your online store “shopper ready” to captivate buyers and generate sales this holiday season? According to the Retail Council of Canada, “December sales can mean the difference between ending the year in the black or the red.” This post will offer five essential tips to make sure that this is your best (online) holiday season yet!

Editor’s note: Learn what the big online retailers already know — read our start-to-finish guide to building a high-performing eCommerce website.

Sell more from your online store this year

eCommerce is largely a science: enough shoppers + easy checkout = success. Use these tips to improve your chances of mastering it this year.

  1. Make sure your website has mobile appeal.

  2. Avoid lost sales.

  3. Capture leads for future sales.

  4. Localize your SEO efforts.

  5. Create a consistent brand look.

No matter how good your holiday sales were last year, they could always be better. These tips can help.

1. Make sure your website has mobile appeal

According to a recent PWC report when it comes to checking for prices and deals, shoppers like doing so online and on the go.

We are just as likely to check out deals on our mobile devices as on our desktops.

Even when at home, I have caught myself using my phone to research a product or service and then make a purchase.

Given our ever-increasing reliance on smartphones, your website needs to look great on any mobile device. No matter how small your business, visitors to your eCommerce site will expect it to work as well as Amazon’s. If it’s hard to open or use on their devices, they’ll quickly leave and find another, easier shopping alternative.

Note: When you publish your GoDaddy Online Store, it automatically creates a mobile version with a streamlined checkout that’s made for smaller screens.

2. Avoid lost sales

While it is important to capture leads, I cannot tell you how many times I have walked away from an online purchase because of a required extra step. Think I am an impatient shopper? Check out the following graphic from a recent Barilliance study. It shows the percentage of shoppers who walk away before completing their purchase.

eCommerce Tips Cart Abandon Chart
This chart shows how many people fill their carts then leave without buying (by device).
Source: Einstein Marketer

Listed among the top reasons shoppers walk away:

  • The requirement to create an account.
  • A checkout process that’s too long or complicated.
  • Website errors/crashes.

Offering a guest checkout option is the best way to keep the momentum going with first-time buyers. Another best practice is to reduce the number of steps needed to complete a purchase to a single page.

A progress bar at the top of the page keeps buyers moving through the checkout process.

Regarding the last point, make sure that your web hosting can handle increased traffic volume during the holiday season. The last thing you want is for your website to crash because suddenly everyone wants what you sell.

When it comes to online sales, always remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight (checkout) line.

Editor’s note: Rely on GoDaddy Hosting to keep your eCommerce website up and running year-round.

3. Capture leads for future sales

The increase in holiday traffic presents a once-a-year opportunity to grow your customer list, especially with first-time visitors to your website.

Keep up-front information gathering to a minimum — just get their name and email address.

As mentioned in the previous tip, how you capture customer information is key. A sales lead is not a “real lead” if the customer, out of frustration, abandons their cart because they have to fill out a lengthy online registration form.

Keep in mind that saving time is a virtue during the busy holiday season. For example, you can entice me to share more than name, rank and serial number through a pop-up screen offering an additional 10 percent discount on my purchases. If I am in a rush, I will close the pop-up box with a single, no-harm-done click of my mouse.

You could offer a second opportunity to save 10 percent at checkout through another pop-up screen, again with nothing lost if the shopper says no. The idea is to let them control the shopping experience rather than it controlling them.

4. Localize your SEO efforts

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of making changes to your website so it draws likely customers to it naturally via search engines. For businesses that have both online and bricks-and-mortar shops, local SEO is key.

According to the PWC study mentioned earlier, 63 percent of Canadians still prefer in-store shopping during the holidays.

Making sure your web listing shows up when locals search for what you offer will help to increase traffic to both your online shop and your bricks-and-mortar store.

In fact, I have an added motivation to purchase online from your store if I know that there is also a physical location close. If I run into a problem with a product I ordered through your website, I’ll just return it to your shop.

So how do you implement a local SEO strategy? Well, it comes down to three basic steps:

  • Research your keywords.
  • Tailor the content on your web pages to your local market.
  • Optimize your online presence.

Get step-by-step instructions on the SEO process in this terrific post.

5. Create a consistent brand look

While your business’ ad strategy should be digital (because this is where shoppers are), your overall efforts should extend to your physical storefront if you have one and all promotional materials — coupons, emails, social posts, etc. This creates continuity and credibility by establishing a consistent image.

eCommerce Tips Holiday Packaging
Your holiday packaging should coordinate with other business materials and signage.
Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

During this time of year sentimentality sells, so you might consider changing your packaging to create the right holiday mood. However, such changes are most effective if what I see online is the same as what I see in your bricks-and-mortar store and vice versa.

Even if you do not have a physical location, the messaging and imagery you use should be consistent across all venues and mediums. Otherwise it can create confusion, which is one of the last things you want.

Take these eCommerce tips to the bank

Competition for online shoppers is fierce in the days and weeks leading up to the holidays. But there’s plenty you can do to enlarge your slice of the holiday pie.

  • Make sure your online store is easy to view and use on mobile devices.
  • Institute an express checkout option that asks the visitor for only the information you absolutely must have.
  • Make an effort to woo search engines with SEO, because they’re your gateway to more customers.
  • Keep the look of all your business materials — including holiday packaging — consistent.

By implementing the above, both your customers and you will have a happy holiday shopping season!

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