Turn the holidays in your favor with 5 simple steps

Is the holiday season gradually passing you by without having put in place measures to make the best out of it? Don’t worry, we are still in the season and you can make a few amends to turn your year around and hopefully meet your year’s sales targets.
After all, sales in November and December alone could account for a whole
30% of a merchant’s sales in the entire year. The holiday season is really a great time for retailing because sales increases exponentially. According to the National Retail Federation, total sales during the winter holidays for the year 2013 was around 602 billion dollars. This alone is about 20% of the industry’s annual of about 3.2 trillion dollars. This is expected to further increase by 4.1%, thus $619.9 billion for the year 2014.

There’s no doubt, that the holiday season, winter holiday especially brings about a lot of rush for most merchants. Holidays such Black Friday and Cyber Monday are already  history for this year.. But there still remains some holidays that can stimulate online sales. A few of them include:

  • Free Shipping day – 18th December.
  • Christmas – 25th December.
  • Boxing Day – 26th December.
  • New Year – 1st January.

You would significantly boost your chances and turn the table in your favor if you followed at least three of the following five proven steps.  

  • Evaluate your shopping cart and streamline the checkout process.We are already in the holiday season and so would not be wise to engage in any rigorous or massive modifications to your shopping cart. However, a few tweaks here and there would not be out of place if it will help reduce the number of drop-offs.

    This is the perfect time for you to take a critical look at your shopping cart and analyze how it has performed so far in the holiday season. Is the site looking professional enough, are there good enough images for all your products to attract buyers? Critically looking at the checkout process and ensuring there are no bottlenecks can greatly increase your sales. For instance, limiting payment options to only Paypal will mean losing out on all customers who use other credit cards and even debit cards.

    Set up your shopping cart to be able to accept varying payment options. Overall, 50% abandon the shopping cart. Streamlining the process can help reduce drop-offs significantly.

  • Make the shopping experience pleasant for your customers. Make the shopping experience fun and stress-free for your customers and site visitors as much as possible. Remember it all comes down to them – something so basic but can easily be forgotten due to the stress that comes with trying to keep up with the holiday rush.

    One way you can achieve that is to make your site mobile-friendly. Between 30 and 50% of online traffic comes from mobile. Beyond that, 80% (thus 4 out every of 5) of all online purchases come from a smartphone according to Moxie, a brand that enables enterprises to provide relevant engagement to their customers through medium such as mobile chat. This means ignoring the mobile friendliness of your site could cost you 80% of potential sales . Google just announced that the mobile friendliness of sites will boost search rankings resulting in a significant jump in traffic to your site,They have provided a great  tool to  enable you identify the mobile friendliness of your site and guides to making it so if it isn’t.

    Mobile aside, ensure all your customer support channels are working efficiently and you are making use of as many of them as possible. Customers more often than not need to be guided throughout the entire purchasing journey – from the time they enter the front door of your site to the final checkout. 83% of consumers require some level of customer support while making an online purchase, asserts  Moxie. Emails, live chats, phone calls, and in-app prompts are all channels that can be leveraged. 

  • Monitor your SEO ranking: 48% of consumers start their online purchase with an online search, according to Moxie. The likelihood that someone looking to buy an item online doesn’t know about your store is very high. Ranking well in search results is therefore one very good way of getting them to know about you and driving them to your store. Google’s webmaster provides a quick guideline on how you can optimize your site for ranking high on Google search. You can also take advantage of apps such as SEO Doctor which can quickly detect any defects with your  SEO and offer fixes for Google, Bing, and Yahoo. You can make use of their holiday promo sync10 to get 10% off. 
  • Buyers look out for deals during this period – give discounts they can’t resist: The holiday season is the period when most buyers will be looking out for the best deals. In fact, your competitors will be offering them and that  will make it extremely difficult for you to compete without offering them. Depending on what your margins will allow, offer some deals and discounts, to earn good will with your customers and get first timers thinking about you when they want to buy again.
    For instance, you can offer free or discounted offers on Free Shipping Day which is on December 18. You can enlist on the free shipping day platform if you have such offers to be discovered by buyers. That can also go a long way to generate some leads and consequently  increase sales. 
  • Keep track of your customers and their interactions with your store: Keeping track of what is happening on your store is a very good way to know what is working and what is not. Remember there may be many holiday seasons ahead, repeating the same mistakes as a result of not tracking, collecting and analyzing the right data will be detrimental to your store and your sales.

    You can use tools like  Google Analytics which is very easy to integrate and free to track the kind of engagement customers or visitors are having with your store. Mixpanel is also another good option for tracking engagement on your site. It can help you collect data such as where your site visitors are coming from, the pages in your store they are visiting, and where they may be dropping off. This will be a good way to  know when and what assistance to offer as well as the portions of your site that needs streamlining.

The major part of the holiday season is already gone but still holds promise for a lot of sales to be made. At worst, it can serve as a very good basis for future marketing and development on your store if the right tracking, data collection and analysis is done. The few days ahead can be very crucial to your business, make them count.