This holiday season is your perfect opportunity to set a sales record. Honestly, it will be a shopping season for the ages. But the conversions won’t just fall into your lap—you’ll be competing with other online businesses and will need to be in prime form.
Be aware that there are dueling forces converging on your business this holiday season. First, global supply chains are being pinched and deliveries delayed. Customers are generally aware of these challenges but are stubbornly reluctant to accept any of the impact on their own lives.
The other force you’ll need to account for is the holiday shopping season starting earlier and reaching a higher apex. According to retail industry research, the majority of consumers will start shopping for the holidays in mid-November. In fact, a fair portion of them actually started in September or October. In other words, we’re in the holiday season.
These same consumers are opening their wallets with gusto. Experts predict an increase in global sales reaching nearly 10%. That would put the total holiday haul above $1.3 trillion. As an ecommerce business owner, you’ll likely feel the impact of this spending surge. Online orders are predicted to rise about 15% year-over-year.
Handling these challenges while simultaneously harnessing the opportunities will require proven strategies. Here are 6 tips to consider:
1. Find Out What Will Land
Rather than guess at your sales strategies, how about you go straight to the source? Send a survey to your customers and ask what they would love to see from you during the upcoming holiday season.
What will this survey reveal? There will probably be some exorbitant requests that could never be implemented. But you’ll also get crucial nuggets of wisdom that you might not find any other way. Maybe your customers are dying for you to bring a discontinued product back. Or they might have a simple request, such as not including product prices on packing slips when they’re sent as holiday gifts.
You should seek direct insights at every possible turn. And anytime you implement a suggestion, announce the change in a social post to make it clear that your decision is from the feedback of your valued customers.
2. Join Forces with a Friendly Business
A powerful way to energize your customers and connect with an entirely new pool of shoppers is by collaborating with another business. Choose a non-competitive partner that is either in your industry or in an industry that complements your own.
While you can generate buzz simply from a quirky collaboration, it wouldn’t be sustainable enough to result in substantial sales. Instead, find a partnership that provides unique value to customers. For example, if you sell beauty products, you could collaborate with a business that sells high-end vanity mirrors. When customers purchase 3 or more products from your new line of lipstick, they would get a 25% discount on the mirror of their choice, plus free shipping on their entire order.
3. Encourage Larger Purchases
The bigger the cart, the happier the seller. Amazon has been achieving this for years with their free shipping on orders over $25 (for non-Prime members). You might visit Amazon only intending to buy a pair of socks, but it’s not long before your cart also includes a hairbrush, a pack of AAA batteries, and a wheel of cheese. Well played, Amazon. Well played.
You might consider a similar free shipping promotion, as it can motivate your customers to make additional purchases. Another popular tactic is to bundle complementary products. While socks, hairbrushes, batteries, and cheese make for an odd bundle, you could make a holiday package that includes a hairbrush, a hair straightener, and a bottle of your famous dry shampoo. Call it your “Holiday Hair Rescue Kit.”
One final tactic to think about is including a free gift with orders that meet a certain threshold. For example, as an online jewelry shop, you could offer a complimentary jewelry cleaning solution with all orders over $75.
4. Pace Your Ad Spend
Remember that many of your customers have already entered holiday shopping mode. So it would be ineffective to ration your ad spending during the coming weeks in anticipation of a big blitz in December. You need to reach them now because they’re already making decisions on gifts and beginning to place orders.
Your optimal spend will depend on the distinct habits of your customer base, so you should be wary of anybody who tells you there’s a one-size-fits-all when it comes to how to manage your holiday ads. To get the best results, pay attention to traffic to your site and the rates of new orders. The sales trend is probably rising right now and will peak somewhere in the window of time around Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.
5. Hold an Exciting Giveaway
People love a good contest no matter the time of year. But the holiday season often heightens engagement, perhaps because the gift-giving mindset makes it seem more plausible that you might win a prize for simply entering your information into an online form.
If you want to learn how to boost your ecommerce sales with a giveaway, focus on these priorities:
- Have a goal. Simply giving away a prize won’t move the needle much for your business. But if you use the contest to build your email list or to promote a new product, the positive results can be long-lasting.
- Choose a prize that’ll get noticed. Holding a giveaway with a lousy prize can actually hurt your brand, as it implies that you either don’t think your customers are worth a good prize or you lack the resources to afford one. The best prizes have a desirable value and are relevant to your audience.
- Make it convenient to enter. There should be very few hurdles in the process to enter your contest. If your goal is to build your email list, then the entry form should definitely ask for an email. But you shouldn’t bother them further by asking for their age or mailing address.
- Set a clear timeline. As for the contest timeline, make it long enough to attract a large number of entries without dragging it out to the point that interest begins to wane. An effective length often falls between 15-28 days.
- Make a big announcement. It’s important that you let everyone know who won the contest, so they aren’t left wondering. A contest without a firm conclusion can only be considered a missed opportunity.
One final note on contests: You will sometimes see a brand get hundreds of entries for their social media giveaways of tiny prizes like a $20 gift card. It’s true that a lot of people might have entered, but the low quality of the prize correlates to a low quality of entries. The people who signed up were only interested in a gift card and probably entered dozens of other contests that same day.
It’s not a bad thing to spread some brand awareness to these individuals, but they probably have no intention of ever becoming a customer. Your priority should be to offer a prize that energizes your customers, as well as future prospects. When they engage with your giveaway, customer loyalty happens.
6. Make Your Instagram Posts Shoppable
Instagram users are a particularly commerce-minded group. So don’t miss opportunities to make your posts interactive with Instagram Shopping, the feature that makes products clickable in your posts.
There are some basic steps to follow in order to allow customers to make purchases through Instagram:
- Confirm that Instagram Shopping is compatible with your country. Visit this page for more information.
- Make sure your profile is set up as either a business account or creator account.
- Connect your Instagram profile to your Facebook profile. You can find instructions here.
- Set up a Business Manager account. You can find instructions here.
- Confirm that you have an ecommerce website that sells all the products you’ll feature on Instagram.
- Confirm that you meet the Commerce Eligibility Requirements.
- Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be able to convert your posts into interactive catalogs. The higher quality and more relevant the content, the better your results will be.
This holiday season is going to be challenging, thrilling, and unpredictable. There will be as many delights as there are delays. And you will excel if you can provide amazing customer service throughout the coming months.
What this means is that you take care of your customers in a way that lets them know you value them as much as their money. If an issue arises, promptly validate their concern and then communicate how you intend to seek a resolution.
Consider adding self-help resources to your website as a way to address the low-hanging fruit, then make sure you have an artificial intelligence chatbot that can steer customers in the right direction to get answers. But the nerve center of your customer service won’t be AI–it will be the humans who respond directly to customers. Your people need to be equipped with resources and prepared to help customers. As long as your service is empowered and willing, the majority of issues can actually be converted into positive opportunities to show your business’s superior support.
Want even more ideas for how to boost your ecommerce sales this holiday season? Visit our library of free business content. Each course is taught by proven entrepreneurs who know what it takes to carve out a niche, attract customers, and set sales records.