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Online shoppers in the United States will spend $54.47 billion this holiday season according to eMarketer’s latest report "Online Holiday Shopping Forecasts and Trends." This is a 16.8% increase from last year and a sign of a gradual recovery from the economic crisis of 2008.
In a recent Holiday eCommerce survey conducted by LivePerson, 63% of consumers said they plan to do at least half of their holiday shopping online.
Consumers will head to the internet to avoid crowded stores, locate hard to find gifts and compare prices across sites to stay within their budget. If these projections hold, online spending in November and December will account for nearly 25% of all retail spending in the US during this timeframe. But how can you take advantage of this expected uptick in holiday spending?
Here are ten tips to help retailers prepare for the online holiday rush.
Walk through your website from your customers’ perspectives-- from both a new and returning customer experience. Can you simplify your registration and checkout process? Make sure important details like shipping procedures are easy to understand and any unnecessary steps in the purchasing process are eliminated. Reward returning customers with one-click shopping and rewards programs. Naturally you should be proactively inviting high value customers to live chat with your representatives to ensure their needs are being met, drive conversion rates and increase average order values.
Make it fun for customers to buy holiday gifts on your site! Promote a “Gift Finder” in your navigation bar and on your homepage. Create categories for popular gift options to inspire customers. Can shoppers build a wish list? Give customers the options to share wish lists with family, friends and social networks.
Make product pages as visually appealing as possible. For example, show videos of the product in action or photos/videos that offer a complete 360° product view. Also, give customers the ability to review products. According to Marketlive’s ‘2012 Mindset of a Multi-Channel Shopper" survey, 45% of shoppers said reading online peer reviews is an important part of the buying process this year.
Drive conversions with personalized content. Offer recommendations based on all the data you have about a customer (demographics, previous purchases, current online behavior, keywords used to reach specific pages, etc.). Take a look at our recent white paper Guerilla Marketing in the Age of the Connected Customer for suggestions on how to best personalize the online shopping experience.
Give your customers the gift of a great mobile shopping experience this holiday season. First, let shoppers browse, review and save items to their mobile basket, and purchase from any channel. Exclusive mobile coupons are very popular, as is a mobile gift finder. Make it easy for mobile customers to share their favorite products on social channels. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the value of having a great mobile solution in place to maximize holiday conversions.
Don’t forget about the value of reaching out to customers on your social media channels! Provide customers in the social space with holiday related content, useful product information, discounts, prizes, etc. Make sure you tailor your content to the way consumers are using social media: Twitter is preferred for reading reviews (70%), Facebook is great for finding discounts (75%), and Pinterest is preferred for researching gift ideas (73%). We are seeing more and more retailers add “pin it” buttons to products pages - a great way to get more inbound site traffic!
This year Booz & Co. researchers expect a 4% lift in gift card sales over last year, as well as an increase in consumer purchases of digital books, music and movies this holiday season. Take advantage of this trend by including gift cards in your upsell/cross-sell efforts, offering electronic gift card options for last-minute gift giving and adding digital products to your merchandising strategy.
How do you get your message to stand out this holiday season? Try innovative ways to get consumers attention: promote single product daily deals featuring this year’s most popular gifts. Drive average order values by offering free gift wrap or double loyalty points for orders above a minimum value. Create time-sensitive offers to build a sense of urgency and drive conversions.
Show gratitude for your customers’ loyalty and your employees’ and vendors’ hard work this holiday season by giving back to the community. Consider donating a percentage of each sale to a cause near and dear to your business or inviting customers to participate in a corporate volunteer opportunity alongside your employees.
Is your customer service department is ready for a busy holiday season? Have you scheduled increased staffing for expected high traffic shopping days? Are your systems ready to handle extra holiday site traffic? It’s critical to ensure all sales/service representatives and live chat agents are well-versed on your products and able to effectively support both your website and mobile site or app.
Download our FREE white paper that goes into more detail about how you can optimize sales and conversions this holiday season: Ten Tips to Drive Sales and Deliver a Great Customer Experience this Holiday Season