Put Away the Pumpkins Its Holiday Time for ECommerce Sites
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Put Away the Pumpkins: It's Holiday Time for E-Commerce Sites

4 minute read
Kelly Bilodeau avatar

It’s October ... time for ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night, right? Wrong. Think sleigh bells and shiny objects like holiday lights.

The winter holiday season triggers an exponential growth in online shopping volume. “Many e-commerce sites do 40 percent of their annual transactions during these holidays,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Marketing Group.

If you handle this demand correctly, the season can gift you with a heaping helping of new, year-round customers. If you don’t, you may watch future profits disappear right back up the chimney with the guy in the red suit.

Holiday Helpers

Below are some tips to make 2014 the holiday season that keeps on giving.

Planthoughtfully. When should you start planning for the holidays? Caporaso suggests as soon as you've made your New Year’s resolutions in January. Once summer rolls around, you should be hammeringout market strategy and ensuring employees are trained on holidaypolicies and procedures. “Consumers have a lot of outletsto choose from. This means they don’t have to toleratepoor customer service — and they won’t," he said.

The right employee trainingensures that you can give customers the hassle-free experience they expect. Audit and monitor staffperformance in this area to ensure that your policies carried out and support staff with ongoing education and mentoring. 

Gomobile. Your customers like to shop on the go. “This area is growingand growing. You need to have some sort of mobile strategy in place,” said Caporaso.

Last year consumers conducted nearly a quarter of Black Fridaysales on their smart phones and tablets, with iOS devices ringing inmore than $543 million of the total $691 million in online sales onthose initial days of the holiday shopping season. 

Learning Opportunities

Telltales. Most e-commerce sites are out for volume during the holidayseason after slashing prices and rolling out free delivery to competefor customers. Another option is to pair associated higher margin product options with lower margin products during thepurchasing process, said Glenn Conradt of Global Marketing atCoreMedia. He explained:

There is no better way to achieve this than creating stories constructed around a collection of products. When products are combinedtogether with rich media as part of a real-life user story, they do amuch better job of addressing the practical and emotional needs of theshopper.”

This can be anything from providing instructions on how tochoose the perfect gift or instructing shoppers on how to create aslam-dunk holiday meal. “When presented in this way, the option of“shopping the story” and having an option to add all the products to thecart is compelling,” Conradt said.

Collect insights. Shopping overthe holiday season provides insight into the interests and buyingbehavior of consumers. Conradt said e-commerce sites should have a plan to capturespecific information that would be useful in segmenting your customers (or refreshing their existing segmentation) and then follow up withpersonalized offers based on their segmentation. "Make sure that you dotesting on a sample to ensure that you are hitting the mark,” he added.

Get itright. Your goal during the holiday season is to provide customers withsuch great service and products they morph into a loyal year-round shopper, saidCaporaso. Customers need to feel like the item they purchased wasworth it, said Conradt, who also noted:

Many products purchased over the holiday season will neverbe used or not fully used. This is particularlytrue of electronics or appliances.A follow up emailwith a video associated with how to use the product or a summary ofuseful information sourced from comments left by customers purchasingsimilar products or the offer of support though a customer service linecan build trust beyond the simple decision to purchase and turn ashopper into an advocate.”

Listen. Use social media to youradvantage. But using social media isn’t just about blasting outmessages, it’s also a forum that you should use to listen to yourcustomers. It’s theperfect opportunity to see what you’re doing right — and wrong, said Caporaso. Ultimately you need to listen to more than cash registers ringing tokeep customers after the holiday season.

Title image by Paul J Everett  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.