3 Reasons to prepare your online shop for the festive season.

It seems that every year the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier and! This year Christmas decorations seemed to creep into shops by mid-October, over Halloween items.  So with Christmas creeping towards us quicker than ever there is one question on all retailers’ lips “Are we prepared for Christmas?”

Here are 3 reasons why you should be prepared…

1. The rise in online Christmas shopping.

Both online and offline stores will be inundated with visitors and transactions over the next few weeks, but if last year’s figures are anything to go by then you will want to make sure your online store is ready for what’s about to come. Last Christmas’s (2013) figures show that in the U.K “61% of regular web users completed more than half of their Christmas shopping online” with only 7% doing all of theirs offline (Econsultancy, 1000 recipients).

Econsultancy

econsultancy.com

John Lewis reported that on Christmas day 2013 traffic from mobile phones made up ¾ of their total traffic for the day.

Clearly offering customers a mobile experience is a necessity.

In the UK Boxing Day was shown to be the most popular ‘shopping day’ of the year and retailers saw a combined figure of 129 million visitors. IBM revealed that the majority of this traffic came from mobile devices, with tablets driving sales. But smart phones proved to be the most popular when browsing stores. They also discovered that “Boxing Day 2013’s sales increased by 40.4% compared to Boxing Day 2012!” So with the rise of smart phones we should see an even larger increase this Boxing Day!

2. Customers are more demanding than ever!

During the busy holiday period customers aren’t as forgiving – if you don’t have something in stock they need they will want to know when it will be back in stock otherwise they will find it somewhere else! If you promise to provide next day delivery then you bettermake sure it gets delivered the next day.

Econsultancy asked 1000 people if they would abandon a retailer who failed to meet their delivery promises. 55% of people said they would. It seems it is advantageous to under-promise on delivery times and make sure you actually over-deliver rather than over-promise and disappoint customers. Their research also shows that during the festive season “customers acquired over the Christmas period are 59% more likely to purchase again next year than customers acquired any other time of the year”.

Econsultancy

econsultancy.com

Christmas is clearly a key period for all retailers and in order to make the most of this opportunity retailers must put their customers’ needs first. This can be achieved in several ways – s by personalising the shopping experience per customer, making them feel special and having clear call to actions to your ‘Christmas section’ . Abandoned Basket emails are also most important this time of year!

If your website displays clear and accurate information about available stock, Christmas delivery times, and live tracking then you’re off to a good start on keeping your customers happy. Customers want a range of delivery options available, so if you can sell online later than your competitors then you will be favoured! A survey by eConsultancy showed that “50% of consumers had abandoned purchases due to lack of suitable delivery options”. It also showed that people were prepared to pay a premium for more flexible delivery options.

Econsultancy

econsultancy.com

One site that always seems to do well with clear and concise delivery option is our very own Daisy Jewellery. They are crystal clear about their cut off dates and leave you with no doubts.

daisyjewellery.com

 

Make sure your customer service is up to scratch during the holiday period – customers will have questions and will need them answered fairly rapidly to stay interested with your site. Schuh promises they will respond to tweets within 5-10 minutes of receiving them, this is a far better service than the usual 24 hour – 48 hour promise we are usually given.

3. Time is money!

So you’ve got all your products in stock and ready to go, your delivery times are clear for the Christmas period, but sales aren’t great … Wonder Why?

 

Your website’s performance!

Performance is a big part of your site being a successful online store. Customers are impatient and if your pages are taking too long to load, you will lose this traffic!  Google have publicly stated that “the benchmark time for a page to load on mobile is ONE second”, and that is the standard customers will expect. Google also mentioned  or  “hinted” that “page speed is a core part of their algorithm” this means if your site is slow it will have a negative effect on its search status. A great tool to use to measure your site’s performance is tools.pingdom.com/fpt and if you find your site is slower than it should be give us a call, we can help!

Is your site ready for all the seasonal visitors it is going to receive? Can your servers handle this spike in traffic? We recommend you work with your brilliant agency (Don’t have one?give us a call)  to load test your servers and find out the tipping point so you can mimic the busy periods and check for problems ahead of time. We also think it’s a good idea to review the usability of your site before Christmas – Our understanding and appreciation for how users interact with a site is always changing and evolving and therefore a review of the UX can do your site wonders. The smallest things improving can end up making a big impact on sales.

Constant testing on new devices is also a good idea as a great deal of people will be receiving the latest technology for Christmas – and shopping on it on Boxing Day!!! Use tools like Google Analytics to review which device and browser is the most popular for your site and make sure it looks and works perfectly, double check your Christmas campaign is visible to these users!

M&S Christmas

Marks & Spencer’s Christmas Landing Page

Another thing to consider is that customers want to know exactly where to go on your site without really thinking about it – they expect a Christmas campaign on the homepage which will lead them right into the Christmas section or to a gift guide page. The quicker you can filter them here the faster they can start shopping, so time really is money!

So with all this in mind… Are you prepared!?