Are you advising or consulting an ecommerce brand? Well, deck the halls of their website for this is the season to be jolly! I’m about to share seven tips that will make your ecommerce client’s holiday season much merrier and your client-consultant relationship much warmer.
According to EConsultancy survey, one in five online users in the US and UK do all their Christmas purchases online, and only 16% shoppers purchase gifts personally in store and without any support from ecommerce websites.
Additionally, Expertian research shows that 2013 Boxing Day was the biggest and busiest day ever for online businesses in Britain. Internet users made 129 million visits on business websites on Boxing Day, which marked a 15% year-over-year increase, and spent a total of 17 million hours browsing and purchasing products online.
Those are numbers any ecommerce business owner likes to hear. But is your client ready for the responsibility that comes with such a traffic? Here are seven golden rules you can share with them for a more successful holiday season.
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1. Don't be a Scrooge. Offer free shipping
Everybody loves free shipping. Many successful companies have based their market penetration strategy around this simple, but appealing, feature. For example, popular book provider Book Depository offers free shipping and made a profit of more than £15 million in 2012.
Nowadays, clients are faced with no shortage of options and any advantage thrown their way can sway the opinion in your favour. Plus, free shipping and no additional costs can speed up the decision-making process when customers are comparing your clients’ store against a competitor.
2. Create a solid return policy
The season of bestowing presents has one huge downfall: not all the gifts will fit the recipient's needs and preferences. According to Youstice research, nearly half of US customers have admitted to returning gifts in 2014. This means almost every other customer will return to your client’s shop with their purchase. While this stat may seem daunting, it actually presents a great opportunity for your client to build a long-term relationship with their customers.
However to do so, your client needs to ensure their return policy is a good one. While the majority of US shoppers (40%) prefer to get their money back, more than 13% want to exchange their unwanted items for something else, and 11% are open to exchanging for store credit. The story is a bit different in the U.K., where 45% of gift-returnees want to exchange the gift for better fit or a different colour. This presents an opportunity for your client to satisfy the needs of their existing customers and keep their revenue in the bank.
The best way for your client to develop a lasting relationship with their customers is to provide a quick and efficient answer to their needs, whether it is finding a more fitting item in store or giving them their money back. Trust me, it will be worth it in the long run!
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3. Highlight gift wrapping options
As clothes make the man, proper wrapping can increase the perceived value of your gift. Now, of course, there is a joy in wrapping holiday gifts yourself. But for many busy holiday shoppers, gift wrapping is a rather costly time-consuming activity. Help your clients be one step ahead by convincing them to provide the option of holiday wrapping for their customers and ensure that it is displayed accordingly alongside the product.
According to Smart Insights, suitable promotion of gift wrapping or personalized messages on your product pages can give your client’s ecommerce business a quick revenue boost — plus, their customers will have an extra reason to buy from them.
4. Focus on bundle deals and gifting
There's nothing sweeter than getting a great deal from a brand you're already spending a lot of money with. By taking advantage of the data your client has on their customers, you can help them predict what products would pair well together and create multiple bundle items.
According to marketing manager Depesh Mandalia, your best bet is to use basket promotions by merchandising your best selling and cross-category items together. Huge ecommerce brands like Amazon are shining examples that discounted bundles have the potential to increase sales significantly.
The holiday season is full of joyful abundance, after all - and don't forget to back it all up in your planning.
5. Tune-up your client’s website
During the 2008 holiday season, Debenham's website went down for around 24 hours. This technical failure to meet "unexpected demand" might have been excused in the early-to-mid 2000s, but now customers have come to expect online stores to work 24/7. If your client’s shop can’t handle the high volume traffic that comes with holiday shopping season, they’re at risk of losing revenue and return customers.
To help them get ready, start load testing as hard as you can and put their website through “hell“. Reports show that even if their website stays online during holiday rush, any slowdown might cause a drop in their conversion rates. use this time to work out any glitches in their sales funnel and checkout experience before the seasonal blitz and remember: site stability matters, especially during the holidays.
6. Get creative with marketing — Go Fukubukuro!
Even though the holiday season naturally drives increased traffic to ecommerce stores, your clients will still be competing for customers on a daily basis. To help them stand out from the pack, put on your marketing hat and pitch them with some out-of-the-box innovative ideas. Sometimes you can get inspired by tradition in an untraditional way. At New Year of 2015, Apple increased their sales by selling affordable "lucky bags" with unknown merchandise - the traditional Japanese mystery package called Fukubukuro - at their some of their brick and mortar stores in Japan. The special deal offered customers a discount price of roughly $300 and the chance to win a MacBook Air attracted many customers.
This success story just goes to show that when marketing your services, you don't have to follow strict rulebook. As you work with a client, you’ll quickly become familiar with their primary target audience. Don't be afraid to think outside the box and suggest a new, bold strategy to drive them to their online store.
7. Provide state-of-the-art customer service
Due to a variety of factors, the holiday season can often be plagued by issues that range from delayed gifts, differences in orders, or even product losses during shipment. With the right internal customer service processes in place, any issue can be dealt with in a matter of minutes — making the delivery right in time for the holidays!
In the end, what does it all boil down to? Your clients’ customers are faced with the time-limited task of buying the best gift possible for their loved ones — and this tends to leave everybody a bit emotional, wouldn't you agree? Everything that can go wrong, is going to go wrong at least twice. And now’s not the time to delay any further – according to Sprout Social research, 89% of customers stop doing business with company because of bad customer service.
Your client’s customer care needs to be three things during the holidays: fast, efficient and emotion-free. No need to set off the short fuse by joining a shouting match with your clients. You can suggest one, or a combination, of the following customer service options to your client: a traditional customer care service (e.g. email address or telephone number), a dynamic live chat, or state-of-the-art online claim management platform. All of which can be added to a Shopify store through third-party apps.
Help your clients win the holidays
It seems clear that the holiday season is the biggest opportunity for ecommerce businesses to boost their sales, win over customers, and gain the competitive advantage in the market. Do not underestimate the demand holiday shoppers will put on your client’s stock, staff and communication skills. You’re in the midst of a great season for ecommerce, but only if you’re prepared for it.
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