Christmas may not be on the calendar for another month, but the holiday shopping season is here! For some consumers, this can mean lots of running around from store to store and hunting down the best deals. In an effort to have a more relaxed and quiet shopping experience, however, many shoppers are taking their lists and their credit cards to ecommerce sites. But how much of an impact does online shopping make? And, is your business ready to have a profitable fourth quarter from your online sales? Here’s what you’ll need to know as you and your business gear up for the season.
It’s no secret that more and more customers are doing their holiday shopping online, and this year’s holiday ecommerce forecast looks promising. It’s expected that ecommerce will increase 16.6% year-over-year this season and will make up 8.4% of all holiday sales (up from 6.8% just two years ago).1 While many online shoppers do wait until closer to Christmas to make their purchases, it’s estimated that more than half of online holiday sales will actually happen on Black Friday and the weekend after Thanksgiving, as many consumers take advantage of sales.
More important than ever this year are mobile sales, or m-commerce. As more and more customers have smart phones and tablets, purchases made on a mobile device are expected to be about 19% of all ecommerce this year. While that may not sound like a huge amount, keep in mind that many consumers will do their research on a mobile device and then go to a PC or laptop to finalize a purchase.
Another big concern this year is delivery. If you’re selling products online, you need to get them to customers in time for Christmas. As you may remember, this was a problem last year, as weather and poor logistical planning caused many retailers to deliver packages late, hurting their image and angering customers. This may have some impact on online shopping this year, as some customers may be a bit wary of delivery guarantees.
Overall, this year’s holiday shopping season looks promising, with a forecasted 5% increase in sales as compared to last year. While this is certainly positive news, it’s not as high as many retailers would like. Economic analysts look to slow income growth, limited consumer confidence, and the 26 short days between Black Friday and Christmas Eve (as compared to 31 in 2012) as factors for the limited growth.
While the holiday shopping season is a very exciting and fast paced time for ecommerce, having a successful and profitable few weeks is not a given. Here’s what you and your business can do to maximize your sales:
Get into the holiday spirit. All of the graphics on your site should reflect the fact that the holidays are upon us. Customers are excited, and if they know you’re excited, they may be more willing to spend their money. It's also a good idea to create specific Black Friday and holiday sale landing pages.
Offer enticing deals. There are loads of great deals to be had between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. How can your business keep up?
Use social media. Using your company Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts to promote selected merchandise can translate to big sales. You might try making exclusive offers to followers to earn their business.
Push email marketing and promotions. Now is the time to get in touch with the customers on your marketing lists and push sales, seasonal products, and more. (Before doing so, however, make sure you are in compliance with any anti-SPAM legislation.)
Be mobile ready. Your ecommerce site should include responsive web design to make the mobile shopping experience easier and frustration-free. If it’s simple for customers to make their purchases using their mobile devices, they will.
Figure out site logistics. Is your ecommerce site ready for a big influx of shoppers? Have your IT specialists test things out to make sure your site does not crash at an inopportune time.
Figure out shipping logistics. Consumers are still smarting from last year’s shipping issues. If you’re going to offer expedited shipping or guarantee delivery by Christmas, make sure you have everything in place to meet customers’ expectations.
Adeo Internet Marketing is a Montreal web design firm that specializes in e-commerce web development, search engine marketing, and much more. Give us a call today at (877) 841-5386, and let’s talk about how we can help build or improve your company’s ecommerce site.