What better eCommerce holiday reference guide, than that of the consumer opinion? We asked online shoppers what their biggest online shopping peeves and pleasures are to create the "12 Days of Commerce" Tips from your Customers – to help you focus on what is most important this holiday season.
Right out of the gate we present to you Tip # 1: Shipping Spelled Out, brought to you by the shipping policy confused shopper. People like to plan, especially when it comes to gift giving. The time of arrival on their product can make or break the sale, so always provide shipping deadlines upfront and put them somewhere easily navigated. These dates are typically found on the different carriers websites. Make sure you understand them fully before putting the information on your website and if you really want to create a sense of urgency, provide shipping information on each product page. Making the consumer look around or go through the checkout process before knowing when they will receive their product could ultimately lead to an abandoned cart.
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 2: Gift Giving Made Easy
During the holiday's everyone searches for that perfect gift for everyone on their shopping list. Some people are easy to shop for and some are more difficult. But you have the ability to change that by providing a "Gift Giving Guide" on your website. We suggest a tab that provides an easy click down menu. Example – "Gift Giving Guide" on your home page navigation. from there a click down that lists each demographic your consumer may be shopping for – Men, Women, Boys, Girls etc. Provide a small amount of your best selling products for each demographic and to sweeten the deal even more, provide a search by dollar amount option. Giving your customer complete control over their options and narrowing their search can alleviate an overwhelmed shopper. You can even break it down according to your product. "The Hunter," "The Cook" etc. Whatever your product may be, narrow the search by giving your customer exactly what they are looking for. To support your new product guide, provide a link on all of your social media platforms as well as sending out to everyone on your email list. The more you promote your gift giving made easy options, the more traffic your webpage will receive and the more likely a customer will share.
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 3: Shopping Rewards
Now's the time to bring in the big guns. You may think during the holiday season your products sell themselves, but you must also remember that your product is being compared to the next guy's. With the exception of your niche markets, consumers are constantly comparing pricing, models, shipping rates, and promotions when shopping online. It's much harder to make a sale online versus the department store so add a little sizzle to the sale with a reward. Shopping rewards are a websites best friend because if the incentive is good enough it brings the customer back over 60% of the time. That's a gamble most store owners are willing to take, being that it lands the initial sale, making the reward cash-in icing on the cake. A great incentive to offer shoppers during the holiday's is a discount if they return to shop in January. A lot of businesses opt for incentives that get shoppers to visit their website during the slow shopping months of January through March. A little retail therapy will fix that post holiday depression right up and both your business and your customer benefit. In the end, you are not only putting out bate to make a potential sale, you are also building a relationship with a customer, creating loyalty and ultimately another sale. Win, win.
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 4: Giving Back
This tip applies to those of you that give back to a charity or your local community during the holiday's. Some businesses choose to give back year round but most choose the holiday season to practice reputation management or to simply give out of the kindness of their hearts. Whatever the reason, make sure your customer is aware. This is a touchy subject to some – using a charity or good deed as a marketing tool. But on the other side of the coin, why not benefit from your good deed? Your company is doing good by giving a percentage and/or hosting a fundraiser etc. Why not use it to your advantage? Make it be known that your business is doing more than selling products. Consumers are more inclined to make a purchase when an act of philanthropy is attached. Think of it like this – Your product compared to your competitors product at the same price, same shipping rate, who do they choose? How about the one that is giving back with every purchase? Odds are the product connected to a good deed is going to land the sale. Use social media to let people know who, what and how your business is giving back this holiday season and make sure it is prominent on your website as well. You may even attract new customers that support the charity you are, and in the end your business is helping to create a kinder, caring community.
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 5: Gift Cards Aren't Hard
This won't take long. Most of you offer gift card purchases on your website, but don't overlook the power of the home page. All year long your gift cards sit buried in your product pages or below the fold. Now's the time to let that little gem shine! Gift card purchases are high during the Holiday's (no brainer) so make them as accessible as possible. A consumer might visit your site because the person they are shopping for likes your brand, but once they get there they're not sure what to get. Oh look – a gift card purchase button right there! That'll do the trick! To make their life and your life easier put your gift cards front and center and then place a little reminder on each product page with a note that reads "Not sure which one to buy? Get a gift card!" Oh and another bonus to gift card sales – often times the person that received the gift card will exceed the limit. **Cyber high five**
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 6: Wrap it up!
Nothing is more convenient than a gift that arrives at your doorstep wrapped and ready to slide under the tree. Adding a gift wrap option for just a few dollars more is a simple way to provide stellar customer service that will be remembered every year after. Be the go-to for gift giving this holiday season by hiring a few extra hands or doing it yourself. You can even turn it into an incentive giving your customer "Free Gift Wrap" if they spend a certain dollar amount or more! Simple package wrapping is easy and it gives your customer the option to dress it up a little or slap a tag on it and send it on it's way!
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 7: Easy Access Policies
When people visit your website they have a certain set of expectations. Sometimes they are unrealistic but in any case, the customer is always right! So to break the ice and get past that "get to know each other stage" just lay it all out on the line. Put your store policies somewhere accessible to the consumer from the second they land on your website. Of course policies and procedures are not as dazzling as your products so don't overwhelm. But make sure they can be viewed with a simple click or 2 if necessary, but no more than that. Burying information = high bounce rates. Enough said.
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 8: Savings Equation
Raise your hand if you look for free shipping promotions when shopping online? Okay now put your hand back down and read on….Everybody loves a good incentive especially free shipping. Internet Retail Mag reports that over 60% of online shoppers will not proceed to checkout without first looking for a sale or shipping promotion. Your Savings Equation could be the deciding factor when clicking that checkout button. You know the competition is out there, especially during the holiday's, so sweeten the deal just enough to make that sale. Taking what we learned from Tip # 3 'Shopping Rewards' – Give the customer a reason to shop your website versus the competitors by offering an incentive they can't pass up. Of course you can't just hand things out, which is why we stress the importance of the savings equation. In this simple equation there are 2 variables with one outcome. In this case we have variable (A) the dollar amount the consumer has to reach in order to get the incentive, we'll say $100. And variable (B) the incentive rewarded to the consumer, we'll go with free shipping. The savings equation works in both parties favor because $100 spent + Free Shipping = Higher sales numbers and a happy customer. So the happy store owner and the satisfied customer go on to create many more Sales Equation's all through Cyberland and everybody lives happily ever after. The End.
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 9: Save on a Later Shipping Date
We tried to come up with a creative way of saying it but frankly, we couldn't. Saving on a later shipping date isn't glamorous, there's no flashing lights, but there is SAVINGS and even the wealthiest of people love a little monetary reward. So….how can you prove to the public that you are serious about saving them money? Of course promotions, coupons, savings sweepstakes etc. are all great ways, but how about a simple reward for not wanting items shipped out the second they confirm their order? Yes, there are people that shop during the holiday's that don't need their product on time for that special moment under the tree at approximately 6am on Christmas day. Provide an extra incentive in the shipping section of checkout offering those who don't mind waiting a little longer, a coupon to use on their next purchase or simply a discount on the product they are currently purchasing. Some shoppers may need a reminder that the items they are shopping don't need to arrive before the holiday and that saves you money and time while they reap the rewards. Also, consider your product – does it have a shelf life? Would the recipient of your product be happier with it if it were shipped to them after the holiday and arrived on the date that worked best for them? Let your customer pick the date and the further out, the bigger the reward/savings. Shipping rewards should not be overlooked as some pay extra for expedited shipping while others in no rush are left paying standard rates to get it before they actually want it. We think giving these option to the customers that cause your business less stress during the holiday's is a must!
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 10: Group Presents
Holiday shopping can be fun at first, but once it gets down to crunch time it can get a little hectic. Make shopping on your website as easy as pie by grouping your products together to create the perfect point and click package! Some gift givers know that the person they are shopping for loves your product but they don't know exactly what to get. Grouping your products together makes the shopping experience convenient for the customer and creates sales for you. Most consumers shopping for another will often spend more than they originally set out to if they are presented with a great gift package that takes the guess out of shopping. Of course it depends on your product, if you sell flags for example, grouping flags together might not make sense. Baking tools on the other hand – very groupable. Is that a word? Anyway, you get the idea. Group presents are the answer to selling more and providing an excellent customer experience this holiday season.
12 Days of Commerce: Tip # 11: 1-Day Deals
Nothing brings in more revenue than a successfully promoted 1-Day Deal. Don't let the title fool you, this doesn't mean you only have one day. It means you can take advantage of a time sensitive deal, day after day. One day, offer 50% off a specific product line the next free shipping, etc. Put a sale timeframe (short timeframe preferred) on any item in your store and watch it fly off your virtual shelves. Of course this 1-Day Deal must be properly accompanied by a substantial email marketing campaign and social media support. Prepare for your 1-Day Deal by sending out at least three emails to your loyal customers just a few days before. Usually one email a week or so before, then another follow up the night before and BOOM – the big one, the day of. The anticipation combined with the limited time offer is a store owners 1,2 punch! A little extra 12 Days of Commerce tip from your consumer – Send a follow up email thanking your customer for participating in the 1-Day Sale and throw in a little extra something special. Building a positive relationship with your customer is the key to a successful customer/store owner relationship!
Well, well, well, look what we have here, Tip # 12 coming at you to wrap up our 12 Days of Commerce. And look what it is, another promotional themed tip. Apparently when consumers shop online they look for promotions. Whelp, thats a no brainer, but do you really offer up enough incentive to make that sale? Today's tip is the good ol' fashioned BOGO and while we understand you cannot and should not do all of the promotional tips we offer up on this list, we think pretty highly of the BOGO. We'll give you two solid reasons – 1: BOGO means people will usually make more purchases that they intended to initially. 2: Any store offering free items is establishing a positive relationship with their customer. So although you are technically giving out free product, we all know that's not exactly how it works. You have to give a little to receive sometimes, and the BOGO is a great example of just how wonderfully that equation can work in your favor. Who should practice this tip? Store owners that sell products that consumers can practically purchase a number of and a that can compliment other products in your store.
Now let's reflect back on all 12 tips, we see a common variable. Promotions = Happy Customers and happy customers are exactly what your business thrives on. Happy customers return to shop, are free advertising and are most likely inclined to suggest your brand or product to a friend. Thus, making customer service your biggest priority.
We hope you enjoyed reading our 12 Days of Commerce: Tips from Your Customers. Now onto a smooth and successful holiday season!