Boost your sales in the upcoming holiday season

It is a upcoming holiday season when people open their wallet and become more generous with their money. They are likely to make purchase at this time of the year. From a business owner point of view, this time appear a very promising opportunity for selling their goods. So, what do you do to prepare for this sales season? Amazon is hiring 70,000 temporary staff to help them with the expected demand. Stocks are filled with goods. And retail stores are willing to expand their opening hours on this occasion?

Again, what do you do, if you are an e commerce website owner?

Before come in to detail website optimizing checklist, let’s take a quick glance at how potential it is to raise your benefit with your online business in this season.

It’s Growing and People are Expecting to Spend More Money with Online Retailers

Approximately 70% of consumers are expecting to spend more during the 2013 holiday season.

And if you’re expecting a big Cyber Monday, you’re probably correct. Spending on Black Friday 2012 was high as well, reaching $1.042 billion. According to comScore, this means e-commerce spending for November 1-26, 2012 totaled $16.378 billion.

According to Nielsen, nearly 50% of consumers say they will shop online this Cyber Monday, which is a 16% increase over 2012. Online Black Friday spending is also on the rise, with 51% saying they’ll do their Black Friday shopping online.

Related post: Top 3 Biggest Factors Affecting Small Business

How to Promote Your E-commerce Store

Not only your store but all ecommerce stores are making effort to attract more customers in the upcoming holiday season. What can you do to stand out from these online stores?

#1: Free Shipping

A survey by Deloitte shows that the biggest factor to customer purchasing decisions is FREE SHIPPING.  Here are the rankings:

  1. Free Shipping (66%)
  2. Ease of Shopping (57%)
  3. Wide Merchandise Selection (52%)
  4. Speed of Shopping or Checkout (51%)
  5. Low Prices (51%)

It’s quite fair to  tell that customer consider “Free Shipping” being more important  than “Low Prices.”

However if free shipping cut down your profit, try another way bringing about a similar result.

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#2 Shipping quality

When consumers are asked what area e-commerce sites can improve, the number one answer is shipping.

It tells that Shipping really matters to customers. Not only the fee but also the quality. Make sure you satisfy your customer with your shipping service.

#3 Free Shipping day

In another study, Free Shipping Day proved to be a big hit for retailers and consumers. Online shopping reached sales of $1.013 billion on December 17, 2012, which was 76% higher than the previous year.

Clearly, offering free shipping can give you a big advantage, not only over other e-commerce competitors, but also over physical retail stores.

Use Shipping to Your Advantage – We’ve now seen the data that says offering free shipping can give you a big advantage. So we are safe to assume that free shipping is the best option for customers.

But if you sell smaller items, you cannot offer free shipping on every product. If, for example, you sell a magnet for $3.50, your shipping costs will be at least $2, so your profit margins are minimal or even negative. Do this over and over, and you’ll be out of business. This is why many e-commerce businesses require a minimum order of $25 so the free shipping costs are justified.

Make it a Selling Point – E-commerce retailers now advertise their free shipping:

The bottom line is that consumers need to know what your shipping policy is. I’d recommend placing it as a banner on your website and in your shopping cart. Prospective customers need to know what your shipping costs are before they enter checkout.

To optimize conversions, it may be best to leave a note in the shopping cart saying “Spend $xx more and get free shipping!” Data shows that 70% of shoppers have added items to their carts in order to qualify for free shipping.

But with all of these websites already offering minimal to free shipping, how are you going to compete with them?

Tips for the holiday season:

  1. There will certainly be last minute shoppers, and the data is out there to prove it. Knowing this, it’s important to offer overnight shipping and a guaranteed delivery date.
  2. Offer to gift wrap items. Perhaps low cost gift wrapping in addition to low cost or free shipping would lead a shopper to pick your store over another.
  3. Considering how important discounted or free shipping is to consumers, it’s a good idea to make your shipping pricing (or lack thereof) very clear. In addition, you may want to offer free shipping if you don’t already.

Discounts 

Every holiday season many consumers come to expect it by the time Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around. So let’s get into how you can optimize the promotion of your discounts.

Vitamin Shoppe has a proposal: sign up for their email newsletter and they’ll give you 10% off.

This appears to be a good idea because there is data showing that a lot (83.5% to be exact) of consumers have signed up for an email newsletter so they could get discounts.

And as for email, 45.4% of consumers report that they are more likely to open and read an email if the subject line mentions a discount or special offer.

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During the holidays, people may be more selective and shop with stores offering discounts. Feel free to use this as a small part of your marketing strategy. I would use discounts sparingly and keep them few and far between.

Tips for the holiday season:

  1. During the holidays, consumers are looking for discounts, with most looking for 40-50% off. Factor this into your decision on whether you discount or don’t.
  2. Try giving away a few freebies and measure the reaction. Studies show consumers value freebies more than discounts.
  3. 81% of consumers report that they rely on discounts during the holiday season. Since consumers are shopping early, it’s best to get these discounts out soon