How to Increase eCommerce Conversions During the 2012 Holiday Season

Even though it’s just now October, this is the time to start thinking about ways to attract shoppers and boost conversions over the upcoming holidays. Competition is going to be fierce, particularly online where offers of free shipping have consistently trumped all other holiday promotions in the past. Online retailers have set the bar for what gets customers to convert, and they are considering sweetening the deal with free returns as well.

But even with these best practices in place, what else can you do to make sure your holiday ecommerce launches are a success? Here are a few up and coming trends to consider:

Digital Catalogs Lure Tablet Shoppers

Digital catalog retailer, Zmags, has seen traffic from mobile devices and tablets double from 2011 to 2012. Last year, Zmags conducted a survey which showed that 87% of consumers had their tablets with them when shopping, and 53% planned to make at least one purchase weekly using the devices.

This year, however, it’s about more than just the technology being used. According to Zmags business development manager, Daren Tomey, ecommerce retailers need to make a concentrated effort to not only get customers through the virtual door, but get them involved and engaged with the site on a deeper level – since they’re always only one click away from a competitor.

zmags

Digital catalogs have increased in popularity, particularly with tablet and mobile shoppers.

Mobile Commerce Surges Ahead

Even if you’re not selling tangible goods online, forecasts have shown that the mobile web market is not one to be ignored. A mobile friendly version of your existing website, or even a downloadable app, can get customers browsing and buying. Fashion deal website, Rue La La, discovered that 40% of its sales came through mobile devices, and 50% of those sales were made using an Apple device.

Rue La La took extra steps to help make its mobile shopping experience enjoyable on everything from desktops to iPads to mobile phones – and their hard work appears to be paying off – because someone who used all three types of media devices was 540% more likely to buy, versus shoppers who browsed only from their computers.

ruelala

Making their website mobile and tablet friendly has paid off big for flash fashion deal site, Rue La La.

Going Beyond “Likes”

In the social media sphere, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding Facebook. Not surprisingly, “Likes” have played a big role in getting valuable marketing data that can lead customers back to the brand’s Facebook page. You can expect this year’s holiday sales to go beyond just fan-page interactions – thanks to an innovation called the “Want” button, designed by Want Technologies.

When a Facebook user interacts with the Want button, it appears in their news feed. From there, retailers can spur customers back to the social network via coupon codes, flash sales and last-minute discounts.

Sharper Image, one of the early adopters of “Want” technology, says that the button has so far increased their conversion rates 3.4%, while adding a higher average per-order value than a typical email or social media blast. Other well known retailers using the technology include Edible Arrangements and Frederick’s of Hollywood.

want button notifications

The “Want” button on Facebook. Image source: AllFacebook.com.

Holiday Conversion Tips

With all this talk of technology and digital devices, you may be inclined to throw your entire holiday marketing budget at the innovations and hope that some of it sticks. However, there are still a few proven conversion tips that have stood the test of time despite huge blowout sales and free shipping announcements:

  • Create Bundles and Samplers – Focus on delivering value to your customers no matter what technology they’re using to browse your site. Consider creating samplers, bundles and other popular combinations to increase average per-order value.
  • Give Them Plenty of Information - Provide plenty of information to help the consumer make a decision. People want to know they have enough detail to buy with confidence. This is particularly important for technology related purchases. Finding coupons for specific purchases often drives customers offsite, so be sure to remind them of the discounts they qualify for, such as bonus points for pre-filling in the coupon code at checkout.
  • Look for Ways to Encourage Hesitant Buyers – Trust seals, live chats, last-minute deals and “Want it by X? Order by Y” dates all spur people to take action. Don’t forget that after people have bought once, they’re more likely to buy again. So encourage them to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on Facebook or Twitter to get a coupon they can use toward a future purchase.
  • Trigger emails based on shopper’s browsing habits – Crutchfield.com uses their in-house email
    system to monitor shopper’s browsing habits, then follows up with them via email to make recommendations or encourage checkout of an abandoned shopping cart. Emailed product suggestions are broader than just the particular item they were looking at – such as a high end and a budget priced TV, which allows the customer more freedom and flexibility in interacting with the company’s recommendations.
  • Don’t neglect your checkout page – This is where the rubber meets the road… the moment of
    truth. Don’t let all your hard work up to this point go down the drain. Your checkout page is crucial, and taking steps to increase conversions there can lead to a larger per-order volume as well as repeat visits. Don’t forget the popularity of items such as gift cards, “lite version”
    downsells and other conversion clenchers!

What holiday ecommerce conversion tests have you tried in past years? How will you form your campaigns this year? Share your tips and comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps website owners increase conversions through custom design, SEO copywriting and more through her site at iElectrify.com. Get your conversion checklist and web copywriting hot sheet – two free gifts just for visiting!

  1. Shahzad Warsani Oct 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    A nice article with new ways and reminder to many things to increase the sales on this holiday season and later. I implemented many of your suggested checkout page strategies and it really helped me a lot.

  2. thank you for some great insights… :-) and happy holidays when you get that far…

  3. Filip Galetic Oct 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Great pointers, thanks for this. I would encourage to add video to the list of how to convert. Namely, product videos can help convert like crazy. I find the service provided by http://www.treepodia.com to be the most user friendly and effective.

  4. You’re right about information. Sometimes I feel like the info offered is only for people in the know not newbies like me. I think it is easy to lose sight of potential customers, when giving detial. A fine line to talk, as one must not bore the knowledgeable ready made market, while encouraging possible uninformed buyers.
    Thanks for a great tutorial.

  5. These are all great insights. Thank you for pointing them out. I shall try some of them to see the impact. Thanks again.

  6. i just wanna thank you for this great and usefull post. thank you ;)

  7. Great list of suggestions. I think another way is to really hone-in your checkout process. I know you touched on it a bit, but having those tests running throughout the season can yield huge benefits. Also, creating those bundles is great way too, as you mentioned.

  8. I can’t wait to see this year’s holiday season recap. Aggressive moves from ecommerce retailers and huge mobile growth!

  9. The E -commerce business will raise to its peek in the holiday season.The sales rate has been doubling up every year.With additional features such as free shipping,discount deals,coupons helps to increase the e commerce sales conversion.Moreover since its compatible with mobile devices also , buying a product is just within a click….
    Groupon Clone

  10. Hi,

    I can’t wait to see this year’s holiday season recap. Great post.

    Thanks

  11. Hi,

    Great post.Keep on writing.

    Thanks

  12. Hy,

    Excellent post man!such an informative and helpful article.Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks

  13. You really shouldn’t auto-approve your comments. As you can see there is a lot of spam here.

  14. Great stuff. I totally agree with what you are saying, especially on using Give Them Plenty of Information . I also agree all of your commandment above.

  15. Hey Sherice !
    wow.. Great article indeed.
    Yeah lots of information increases customer confidence, and I will add that complete information increases the customer’s confidence. I have learned lots of good things from this post.
    Thanks.
    Matt

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