The 2014 holiday shopping season is over. All the numbers have been tallied of who shopped online, how much they bought, and what device/s they bought it on. What are the takeaways for your ecommerce website for the rest of 2015?
1. Polish your reputation. Making sure your ecommerce website has a presence on online ratings and review sites matters more than ever. According to Baynote’s Annual Holiday Survey 2014, 48 percent of shoppers say they were influenced by ratings and reviews when shopping. That’s up 45 percent from 2012. To take advantage of the trend, make sure you:
- Get listed on all the ratings and review sites relevant to your business
- Link to online ratings and review sites on your ecommerce website
- Highlight customer testimonials on your ecommerce website
- Encourage customers to share their thoughts about your site on social media—it’s also a huge influencer, of course.
2. Let’s make a deal. Promotions were the number-one factor in where shoppers purchased this holiday season, and free shipping was the number-one promotional tactic. A whopping 60 percent of shoppers say unconditional free shipping is “extremely important” when making a purchase—up 58 percent from 2012. In addition, nearly four in 10 shoppers say they always or often use promotional offers received via email. How can you benefit?
- Your ecommerce website may not be able to offer unconditional free shipping (i.e., no minimum purchase), but at least consider offering conditional free shipping if certain minimums are met, or offering unconditional free shipping once or twice a year.
- When you do make a big deal like free shipping, be sure you spread the news via email, social media and advertising well in advance.
- Email marketing works—not just during the holidays, but all year round. While you’ll want to lessen your email frequency the rest of the year, make sure you’re still sending emails at a regular pace.
3. Time it right. Speaking of offers, an analysis of holiday shopping behavior by StepsAway found that time-sensitive offers, especially those lasting 48 hours or less, were very effective this holiday season. Used sparingly, there’s no reason they can’t work all year ‘round. To create a sense of urgency, the report suggests you communicate time-sensitive offers via text or using visuals on your website or social media; these formats help boost the sense of urgency.
4. Make your website great. What do shoppers look for in an ecommerce website?
- Well-functioning search tops the list: 74 percent of shoppers say it’s very or extremely important to easily find what they’re looking for by using onsite search.
- You’ve got to sell it. Sixty-eight percent say product pages with detailed copy and good photography and are very or extremely important.
- Customer service matters, too: 63 percent cite easily accessible and responsive customer service is very or extremely important when shopping on an ecommerce website.
5. Use your analytics. Tap into your ecommerce website analytics all year round to discover things such as:
- What types of products customers look for and buy
- What types of promotions work best
- What placement on a Web page works best for different products
- What drives traffic to your ecommerce site
- How many browsers convert to buyers
Knowing these answers will enable you to design a more effective ecommerce website and improve marketing results.
What about competing with Amazon? If you mean offering low, low prices and same-day delivery, that’s probably not realistic. Find other areas in which to compete, advised a panel of online retailers at the National Retail Federation’s 2015 conference. For example, making sure you have a good inventory of products or guaranteeing delivery within X days (even if it’s not overnight) can help a small ecommerce business attract customers.
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Maria Valdez Haubrich
Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.