Over the past several years we have seen eCommerce transform the way we buy and sell online over the Christmas period and the competition between online retailers has reached an all time high. With this in mind, we take a look at some of the top performers this year and how they are leading the way.
Every retailer knows the importance placed on impressing customers, capturing their attention and driving more sales. Below we list 8 ways you can meet and exceed your visitors’ expectations..
1. Navigation and Search
Customers often base their online shopping experience on how easy it is to navigate through a site and how quickly they can find what it is they’re looking for (put yourselves in the shoes of the user and give it a go – type in a search query and see what results are shown). To ensure your products are easy to find, group them into relevant categories (ie. Christmas) and even consider listing your gift ideas by the type of recipient (ie Gifts For Her) etc – many visitors may not be aware of exactly what it is that they are looking for or what it is that they can buy from you so they need to be presented with your entire relevant product range in a simple way to gain the desired results as quickly as possible. It is important to also make sure your search and select process is seamless.
By improving your search and navigation you should see an increase of both new and returning customers.
Below is an example taken from Oasis-Stores.com:
– Oasis homepage offers a great example of effective product and category pages: ‘Category’, ‘Collection’ or ‘Trends’.
Below is an example taken from Selfridges.com:
– Selfridges include a “Christmas” tab within their main navigation bar, see above for examples of what falls within it.
There are some big shopping dates throughout the festive season that every online marketer and retailer should be aware of (see 6 Shopping Days of Christmas to Add to Your Marketing Calendar). Start your research early to ensure you know which of these shopping dates will apply to you and then circle, highlight and mark them in your calendar so that you can plan your marketing strategies for each of these in advance – be prepared! Don’t forget to share these dates with the rest of your team. Many of these large shopping days, ie Black Friday and Cyber Monday, have recently been adopted in to the UK market from America and are already proving to be some of the UK’s biggest spend days of the year. There will be a need to prepare for volume and large orders so make sure your site is ready and can handle the increase.
PS. Another tip: always have a ‘Plan A’ and a ‘Plan B’ in place.
Below is an example taken from Headline.co.uk:
– The Headline’s advent calendar, showcasing their impressively organised marketing strategy.
Be sure you are providing your customers with flexible delivery options and payment methods. With competitive product pricing, this is a big area that could help you step ahead of other brands to win important sales. Customers want to be able to understand the different delivery methods, the guaranteed delivery dates, the costing and what the after-service/returns process is. It is important to be clear with all of your delivery options and terms over Christmas, there should be a main landing page covering all of the above areas as well as strategically placed banners and text. You could also use free delivery hooks against minimum order values to increase sales.
Make sure you also include the Click and Collect options if these are available.
Below is an example taken from Warehouse.co.uk:
– Warehouse tailored their Delivery & Returns page to show their Christmas & New Year delivery dates.
Your website, especially the home page, is your virtual shop window display and for many customers it may be their initial impression of your brand (and we all know how much they count). During any big holiday season whether it be Christmas or Valentine’s Day, it’s an opportunity to show off your creativity and inject a bit of fun into your site and entice users to continue browsing both your site and products! The changes can be as subtle as adding in some traditional festive colour schemes, ie. gold, silver, green, red etc; placing in Christmas themed banners (in-line with you brand); and ensuring you strong product creatives. Be aware that customers could be entering your site via many different routes and landing on many different pages, so make sure your creatives run throughout the site.
Below is an example taken from Missguided.co.uk:
– The Missguided site shared festive cheer and was clearly updated several times over the holiday season.
At Christmas, many of us accept the fact that it is a time to spend, spend, spend and seasonal promotions help us decide which brands we spend, spend, spend with. Aside from the popular dates like Cyber Monday and Black Friday that we discussed earlier, December is a month for bargains, deals and promotions followed by the January sales. It is vital to be promoting your best sellers and sale items with clear pricing and strong imagery. Unique offers that add a little something extra like a gift wrapping service or free tester items can make a huge difference to your average order value.
Below is an example taken from Boots.co.uk:
– Boots is well-known for their Christmas promotions and 3for2 offers, this year there were plenty available.
It’s simple, for most retailers, the more email subscribers = the more traffic you will achieve = the more sales! Every brand should build up an email database list and be effectively communicating with them on a regular basis. Ensure your key promotions and messages are included, along with any exclusive offers for your email subscribers. Consider effective ways throughout the year to promote and acquire new email addresses so that you can target these customers in the run-up to Christmas and other big dates.
Below is a screenshot of how my email inbox looked on 25th Dec:
As consumers, we really value the opinions of others – whether that be friends, family or just the voice of another online buyer. Word-of-mouth is reportedly the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions and definitely one of the most effective forms of marketing. Christmas is the perfect time to ensure you are doing all you can to expand your offering of positive product reviews. Many online retailers now incentivise product/service reviews. These reviews are integral to pre-Christmas sales and remember to push for reviews post Christmas when many people will have new appliances and products to give feedback on ready for the next marketing push.
Below is an example taken from ao.co.uk:
– Appliances Online use customer reviews to share top recommended products and offer a star ratings & more info.
Start by getting the basics right. Check your landing pages and product pages to ensure you are using H1s, meta titles, meta descriptions, Image Alt tags, Link Title tags, friendly URLs and copy that is easily read by search engines. Keywords will always be important, as will quality content and driving quality traffic. Ensure that your website code is clean and working effectively. Spending time assessing and improving your SEO will benefit your performance especially over these busy periods and help improve your keyword rankings and overall site traffic.
Below is an example taken from ASOS.com:
– Good H1’s (ie “Jumpers & Cardigans”) with readable introductory copy for search engines & customers.
Remember, these helpful tips and points can be used all year round and adapted to suit your business, industry, customers and focus!