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6 ways ecommerce retailers can ‘win’ the holidays

Is your online store on top of its game during the holiday rush?

According to a recent report by NetElixir, 2017’s holiday shopping season is projected to see a 10 per cent increase over last year’s record-breaking ecommerce sales.

With the holidays fast approaching, businesses of all shapes and sizes are looking to grab a bigger chunk of the growing online marketplace, but standing out in an increasingly crowded landscape can be difficult.

Just as ecommerce sales opportunities are growing, so is the competition, with everyone from retail giants to local small businesses getting in on the action. Here are a few ways your online store can stand out this holiday season.

1. Get into the holiday spirit

As customers move their holiday shopping budgets online, they’re becoming savvier and know that a majority of the items they purchase will be available at multiple online retailers for different prices.

In the run-up to the holiday season, it’s important for businesses to show customers how they’re getting into the holiday spirit, signalling to users that they’re pricing items competitively for the season.

Advertising special holiday deals and pricing in their online marketing materials, social media presence, newsletters and website overlays can inspire buying confidence. While a website refresh that incorporates holiday themes (or a holiday-specific landing page) will send that subconscious signal that pricing has been made more competitive for the holidays.

2. Reduce friction wherever possible

The holiday season is also a great time for retailers to evaluate every step in the online shopping experience and remove any points of friction that may impact sales negatively.

Testing for bugs and reducing the number of fields in your check-out form can help streamline the sales process, and reduce the likelihood of consumers abandoning their carts.

Since returns spike during and shortly following the holiday season, it’s important to also have a solid, frictionless return policy that inspires confidence in consumers as they make purchases this season.

3. Give as much as you can

It’s the season for giving, and retailers will be wise to get on board. This means giving consumers the opportunity to donate to charity during the checkout process, as well as offering customers some free incentives like shipping or gift-wrapping, when possible.  

4. Bundle and upsell without being too pushy

While consumers love a good deal, they don’t love an overly pushy salesperson or online marketing effort.

Instead, ecommerce retailers should make polite, helpful suggestions that encourage consumers to add more items to their cart before checkout.

For example, showing items that pair well with their purchases, items that consumers typically purchase together with what’s in their cart, deals that are relevant to their purchasing patterns or showing off the season’s best selling items before checkout can help increase sales.

5. Be ready for traffic and customer service spikes

Before the holidays, it’s important to ensure that your underlying infrastructure is prepared for the added capacity the season could bring.

That may include conducting load tests to ensure your company’s site and app can handle the added traffic on peak shopping days. It may also mean having additional shipping supplies and gift wrapping ready to go and preparing your customer service for the added pressure that often results from the holiday shopping season.

     Related: Say goodbye to those holiday staffing blues          

6. Focus on the holidays year-round

It may sound a little strange to talk about the holiday season in Summer or Spring, but with many retailers seeing 30 per cent of their annual sales taking place within a brief window in December, the holiday season requires a yearlong approach.

Planning ahead to ensure that your marketing material, shipping logistics, inventory tracking, customer service policies, app and desktop site are ready to win the holiday season can make a big difference during the most important retail season of the year.

Furthermore, since there is some sort of shopping-related holiday every month of the year throughout the world, there’s always a holiday ‘win’ opportunity for your ecommerce brand somewhere.

Up Next: Make sure your online business gets noticed.

How to make your e-commerce store stand out

Jared Lindzon

Jared Lindzon is a freelance journalist based in Toronto, covering a variety of topics, including technology, careers, entrepreneurship, politics and music. His work regularly appears in major publications in Canada, the United States and around the world, including the Globe and Mail, Fast Company, Fortune Magazine, Rolling Stone, Politico, the Guardian and more.

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