Preparing your eCommerce Store for the Holidays

From time to time we have guest posts on the blog. Today’s post is from Sanjay Arora at Nextopia.

With the seasons changing and warm weather winding to a close, online retailers are gearing up for the Holidays. With the beginning of the Holiday rush only a few weeks away, many online retailers are looking for last minute tips and trick on how to optimize their sites for the Holidays.

Last year, the 2014 winter holiday season in the United States saw an overall increase of sales of 4%, reaching a record total of $616.1 billion dollars. eCommerce sales alone, experiencing a growth of 6.8% in 2014, translating into a whopping $101.9 billion in revenue.

How can your eCommerce store make the most of the influx of shoppers this holiday season? When it comes to optimizing your site for the Holidays, it isn’t too late to make a few simple changes in order to capitalize on the Holiday shopping rush.

Analyze the Data

First and foremost, take a look at how your site performed during the past Holiday season. By going over your site’s performance analytics in the past, you can subsequently become familiar with the trends on your site. Understand how consumers are interacting with your site, and in this way, you can make necessary adjustments to update any products, information or web pages.

Become familiar with metrics such as which products are most popular, what products were in demand and weren’t offered, how successful sales and promotions were, and how many people abandoned your site before making a purchase. In examining these metrics, you can take action to optimize the planning process and optimize your site for the influx of traffic.

Create Category Pages

Create category pages to direct your customers to specific sale items, your popular products, or specific promotions for the holidays. Retailers can direct customers to holiday specific or sale category of products.

Gift buyers might perhaps want to see the newest releases or most popular items. Ensure your site is optimized with these functions in order to capitalize on the traffic.

Optimize Your Site Search

When visiting your site, some shoppers only have a vague idea of what they’re looking for; however, many shoppers will head right for the search box with a specific product in mind. To ensure the best user experience, ensure your eCommerce site is optimized with the following search functionalities:

  1. Enhanced Autocomplete: An enhanced autocomplete function will present shoppers with phrases and product matches as they type. By presenting product matches in an autocomplete drop-down list you allow shoppers to see visual representations of the products and lead them directly to a product page — skipping the extra step of viewing a search results page.
  2. Quality Search Results: If a shopper does choose to view a search results page, it’s equally important that the search results are fully optimized in order to create a seamless user experience. To do so, search results should be displayed in order of relevancy to the search term entered, and in a grid format with high resolution images along with a brief product description.  Product details, such as price and rating, and the presence of a “buy now” button are also helpful to increase your site’s conversion rate.
  3. Filters and Refinements: Allowing shoppers to narrow a search by price, color, or brand will enhance the user experience and keep them engaged. Search results pages can additionally be optimized using banners, product spotlight badges, and product recommendations. All of these add-ons are going to enhance the visual appeal and user experience of your site.

Mobile

Capitalize on on-the-go shoppers this Holiday season. With an increasing number of consumers turning to their mobile devices to do their shopping this holiday season, it is important to create the same seamless user experience for both the traditional desktop shopper as well as the on-the-go mobile shopper.

A mobile site should provide the same information accessible on the desktop version, but in a simpler, more digestible way. This may require a responsive design or a separate mobile site, removing large files (such as videos) and ensuring images are mobile friendly.

Promotional Sales

During the holiday shopping season, online shoppers are on the lookout for the best sales and promotions. So, if you plan to offer any special deals, it’s important to first understand your target demographic and what they’ll want to see, such as free shipping.

Checkout Process

Lastly, in order to see a low cart abandonment rate this holiday season, it’s important to simplify and streamline the checkout process.

Shoppers are likely to abandon a shopping cart if they’re required to register or sign up in order to check out. If this is a requirement currently in place on your site, consider providing shoppers with the option to check out as a guest.

Most checkout activities do require a good amount of time investment. In order to keep customers engaged and focused on their end goal, it’s helpful to display a status bar. This status bar will show customers where they are in the checkout process and how many more steps they must complete.

Another important aspect of the checkout process is method of payment. Providing multiple payment options will encourage shoppers to complete the purchasing process for the items in their cart.

Conclusion

There is still time to optimize your site in time for the Holiday season! By following these simple recommendations above, you can ensure to maximize your success in the coming weeks. This winter season, make your list and check it twice – ensure your site is optimized for the Holidays!


 

About Sanjay Arora:

Sanjay is the founder and CEO of Nextopia Software Corporation, a company dedicated to growing online retailers’ businesses with an innovative suite of site search and navigation solutions. Since opened in 1999, Nextopia has grown into a nexus for success and innovation, both as a global leader in the field and as one of the largest eCommerce employers in Toronto.

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