Tips For Online Store Owners At The Holidays
As any online store owner knows, there is a strategy for having a successful ecommerce business. This is just as true during the holidays. In fact, there are specific things that online store owners need to do when the holiday shopping season rolls around. The tips below have been taken from an enlightening webinar offered by Practical eCommerce, “Ten Ecommerce Strategies for Holiday Success.” The tips below aren’t in any particular order as they are all equally important.
1. Examine your Infrastructure. As the holidays get closer, it’s a safe assumption that you will be increasing your marketing efforts in an attempt to generate more traffic to your website. However, you need to take into consideration that your online store will see more traffic anyway because it is the holiday shopping season. Therefore, before you begin a heavy marketing campaign, you need to examine your website’s infrastructure. You want to make sure your website can handle the increased traffic generated. One way to make sure your online store won’t suffer any service interruptions is to speak with your hosting provider.
2. Centralize Platform Management. Due to the fact that consumers will not just be visiting your online store from their home computers, but by smartphones and other internet-accessible devices, it’s important that you use a platform that is able to handle these devices.
In addition, it will be much easier if you choose a platform that is able to centrally manage all of the selling channels and access methods your website uses. This will save you lots of time because you won’t have to bother with many of the time-consuming tasks you do with multiple platforms. This will not only save you precious time, but money as well.
3. Be Socially Responsible. To be socially responsible, you have to be socially aware. While this does involve the use of social networking sites, that isn’t all it entails. In fact, practicing social awareness and responsibility means that you are contributing to the welfare not only of your community, but other communities as well. You want to show that you are aware of the social needs in your own and other communities because it will make your brand stand out from the rest and have a positive effect on your online business.
There are a couple ways you can do this. You can place different widgets and badges on your website to show the various programs you support. For example, The World Food Program, cancer research groups, or any other program you support that helps others. If you use social networking sites, you can also use them to show others that you’re practicing good social responsibility.
4. Make Your Site Appealing and Easy to Use. There are many factors that determine which merchants online shoppers buy from. This is usually determined within a few seconds of pulling up your site. Therefore, you need to make sure that your online store is both appealing and easy for customers to use. Keep these things in mind when looking at your site:
· Mega-Menus: Do not overuse these. Many online merchants use these excessively, especially in their headers and footers. You want to avoid this because these pop up ads and content can frustrate and overwhelm your shoppers, causing them to leave your site.
· Filtering Capabilities: Your goal should be to make your site as easy to use as possible for your customers. Using a platform that features some type of smart filtering system will allow your customers to locate items much quicker, increasing your sales.
· Website Search Feature: Another aspect of making your online store easy for customers to use is by allowing them to easily search throughout your site. This is one of the ways customers can discover the efficiency of your website’s navigation. In addition to increasing your online sales with this feature, you will also be able to keep track of the various search queries are used within your website. This will help you use SEO (search engine optimization) more effectively.
5. Utilize Registries and Wish Lists. One of the best ways to improve your sales and learn more about your customers is by allowing them to create gift registries and wish lists at your online store. Additionally, once shoppers create a wish list with you, you have the ability to share it with a third party if necessary. This is also true for gift registries. Therefore, make sure you are set up with a platform that can handle these additional features.
6. Make More with Smart Coupons. If you are looking for an incentive to get your visitors to spend more money now, then you need to utilize smart coupons. These coupons work by up-selling and cross-selling products. For example, you might offer the coupon: “Buy 2 and Save 30%,” or “Buy 3 and Get Free Shipping.” Again, before you can offer smart coupons, your platform needs to be able to handle, or allow, them. When you take the time to monitor and test your online store’s sales and customer demand, smart coupons can be very beneficial in increasing your profit.
7. Give Customers Rewards. A great way to get your customers to keep coming back to your online store is by giving them the ability to earn rewards. The most common way merchants give rewards to their customers is by a point system. Points can be offered for spending “x” amount of dollars or doing other actions such as posting product reviews, tweeting about your website, blogging or other actions.
While your sales are more likely to go up by offering a rewards program to customers, it’s important that you make the rewards you offer rewards that customers want. If you don’t give your customers something they want as a reward, then your rewards program isn’t going to mean anything and will basically be useless. You can determine what rewards are desirable to your customers by testing them first.
Also, when a point system is in place for rewards, give rewards in tiers based on accumulated points. This makes various rewards achievable to all customers whether they’re just starting to earn points or they’ve saved a large number of points. Also, consider giving a variety of rewards for your customers-this will help ensure that you’re offering something the customer wants.
8. Accept More Payment Methods and Backup Gateways. Accepting more payment options and backing up your gateway are essential to gearing up for the holiday shopping season. The Internet is accessible to people all over the planet, amd therefore you need to make sure that your online store is able to accept payments from every worldwide citizen. This means you should not only offer PayPal, MasterCard and Visa but other payment methods as well.
Additionally, you need to be sure not to put “all your eggs in one basket” in regards to your platform(s) capabilities. The increase in holiday traffic may cause your website to crash if you’re platform(s) can’t support multiple gateways simultaneously. Therefore, backup gateways by having multiple “failsafe” options in place.
9. Integrate Customer Service Systems. It’s important that you offer your customers fast and speedy customer service when they need it. One of the best ways to do this is by integrating your platform with your help desk software. In addition, you need to make sure your help desk software is able to utilize Live Chat, as this gives you customers an extra way to get the help they need. Make sure that when you make all the necessary changes to your platform and help desk software that you make important information only available to those that really need to access it.
10. Remember Your Manners. One of the most important things you can do as an online entrepreneur is to remember your manners and follow up customer orders with a “thank you.” It will also be beneficial for you to send a nice gift with your “thank you” email. You can make sure this is done for every customer by selecting a good platform and adjusting the settings. Regardless of whether or not you give customers a gift, you should always make sure you’re set up to send out a “thank you” email for every order you receive. This will go a long way and help bring customers back.