For any retailer who sells online, the holidays are an ever-important part of yearly revenue. Some businesses — like fashion and luxury items — make up to 80 or 90 percent of their annual revenue during the holiday months. In addition, with more and more customers starting to shop online from international retailers, it is definitely a great time for retailers. Over the past few years the unemployment rate has continued to drop — which puts a little bit more money into people’s pockets. All in all — it is a great time to be selling online.
Retail Sales Have Tipped the Scale
2018 saw holiday retail sales (both online and offline) tip the scale and cross the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2018 — up 5.8% from 2017. The story is even better news for online retail. While some customers always enjoy shopping for the holidays in person, U.S. retail eCommerce spending rose 16.6% to $123.73 billion in 2018.
Once seen as up-and-coming retail holidays, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now well-known to all and are often the days where shoppers cross most of their holiday gifts off their lists — and the numbers prove it. Out of all online revenue during the holidays, almost half of it (40%) occurred during Cyber Week (the period spanning the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) in 2018.
So how can you, as a retailer, prepare your online store for the masses of customers coming to shop during the holiday season? In this piece, we’ve created a small checklist of some things you may not realize have a lot of impact on your customers during the holidays — from logistics, to analytics, to website design. Let’s dive in.
1. Optimize for Mobile: make sure your mobile shoppers have a great experience.
In 2018, it was predicted that eCommerce will continue to be more and more driven by mobile commerce — jumping 32.6% from the previous year.
And, if the 2018 holiday sales season is any indicator of what 2019 will be like, mobile will play a huge role in helping shoppers find their gifts easily, quickly, and on-the-go. Thus making your website mobile-friendly is a must.
The bottom line is — you need to maximize your revenue during the holiday season. In order to do that, you need to focus on optimizing the way that customers engage with your site on their mobile devices. This may mean making adjustments to your design, but it may also mean adding some technology — like a checkout app — to make the user experience better.
2. Don’t forget about social media: keep customers engaged on all platforms.
When customers aren’t spending time browsing online, they’re on a social media app engaging with their friends and influencers who they admire.
Consider this an opportunity for your brand to get in front of customers when they’re least expecting it. As the holidays approach, make sure each and every campaign you plan on running — whether it’s a flash sale or a bundled promotion — has a tie-in with your social media accounts.
Even better, consider using influencers to broaden your reach even more. Nano- and micro-influencers are a great way to get your products in front of consumers’ eyes.
If you have a branded iPhone or Android app, don’t forget about that during the holidays. Customers may visit the app to see if there are any exclusive discounts they can take advantage of by downloading or using the app. You may also consider having a campaign that incentivizes visitors to download the app to unlock a secret discount — that way, you can engage with them well after the holidays.
3. Don’t lose customers at the last minute: Refine your checkout experience.
We all know that the area of an eCommerce website that experiences the most cart abandonment is, in fact, the checkout stage. Customers will mosey through their shopping, adding items to the cart, and get to the checkout simply to see how much their total will be — and then, for whatever reason, they’ll close the window and go on with their day.
A part of this happens because online shoppers quickly lose interest if there are too many payment and shipping information fields to fill on a checkout page.
You can try to combat this by doing a number of things, like offering a discount code via an exit-intent pop-up. Or, take a look at the technology that fuels your checkout. Is there a way you can reduce the number of steps a visitor needs to take? Or can you add a more convenient checkout method, like Apple Pay or Venmo?
Everyone loves the holidays. It’s the perfect season to get together with family, show appreciation, and take some time off of work. While some people limit their gift-giving, others spend money on just about everyone. Make sure your eCommerce site tailors to as many types of shoppers as possible.
The camaraderie from gift-giving turns into an important revenue figure for just about anyone who sells online. Whether you’re a one-person shop or a large enterprise business, there are a number of ways you can prepare for the holiday season.