It's that time of year once again. The weather grows colder, drug store aisles begin to fill with tacky decor and those of us in the online retail sector gear up for late nights at the office and big return from the increasing growth of the ecommerce contribution to holiday shopping.
I work with over 11,000 retailers and each year from June until the following February I answer the same questions about what really moves the needle for capturing the holiday audience and converting their sales. I figured I would share my retailer "Holiday Hit List" -
- Landing Page Optimization! LP optimization is key to converting the "window shopper" who browses online but typically makes the end purchase in store. Are the product images clear? Is the path to purchase as streamlined as possible? Does the offer box appear before the credit card entry page? This all seems very simpleton, but you would be surprised how many large retailers have poorly optimized pages. It's important to make the online shopping process as luxurious as shopping in store, yet simple enough for a golden retriever to send you an Omaha Steak.
- Coupons Coupons Coupons! Bottom line: consumers know they exist, know how to use them and know where to find them. Shoppers are not nearly as brand loyal as they once were, so it is more than likely you will lose a sale to a competitor who is offering coupons and promotional codes if you are not. If you're worried about devaluing your brand, don't call it a coupon - call it an "Exclusive VIP Access Code" or something equally as flashy.
- Free Shipping is Expected! Like coupons, consumers are accustomed to getting free shipping. In this case, however, perceived cost of shipping is one of the most critical deterrents to conversion. Free shipping is so pervasive these days that a purchase will literally not be made if a shopper has to pay shipping.
- Plan Early and Plan Ahead! Roll out holiday planning early to affiliates and other promotional partners. The sooner they know, the more likely they will be to make the most of your offer. If you don't have clearance to reveal your offers until the 11th hour, get your top strategic partners who you trust and have relationships with under NDA. If that's not possible, make sure you let your promotional partners know exactly when to expect your holiday announcements.
- Cyber week? Cyber month? Cyber holiday! Although still huge days, online shopping doesn't live and die exclusively by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Each year the window seems to widen and it's Cyber shopping everyday. Get creative with exclusive holiday deals, contests, giveaways, special deals of the day, etc. Systematically merging your creative marketing strategy with social media efforts is absolutely crucial this year.