Spreading the Online Christmas Shopping Cheer
Are you struggling to get your online strategy up and running before Christmas? Mark Gray shares 10 quick tips for your holiday strategy for 2011!
Without realising, we are now less than two months away from Christmas. It’s already been a whirlwind year for e-commerce, and the holiday season is bound to bring a deluge of eager buyers searching for that perfect gift. As always, the key to success is preparation, but this year has brought a myriad of changes, making it all the more important to stay on your toes. Here are 10 quick tips to help retailers transform this last big gust of shoppers into customers this holiday season.
#1 Diversify: Bring your portfolio up to speed: Building a portfolio of e-commerce channels is a tip that will never cease to pay off for retailers. Take advantage of existing channels by reexamining strategies, and consider expanding to new channels to improve visibility. Retailers with broader platforms are more likely to be seen by prospective buyers.
#2 Think Globally: Penetrate target markets: Examine the demographics of current global customers. If you’re experiencing significant sales in other countries, consider launching an international site. Less dramatic moves like working with a freight-forwarding company to handle international shipping and tariff regulations or enabling international payment options also improve buyer experience.
#3 eBay: Go with the flow of eBay’s changes: Make sure sales don’t slip due to unnoticed changes like the new economics surrounding the final value fee. Tackle title expansion this year by taking a methodical, bite-sized approach, working through top sellers first. eBay’s The Big Deal are highly favoured by eBay shoppers, especially during the holidays, because they eliminate search time. A Big Deal may be the golden ticket to reaching sales goals for a new product this season.
#4 Google Shopping: Get in the game early to win sales: Google Shopping acts as a free comparison shopping engine, and many retailers are missing the mark. If you’re on Google Shopping, gain a strategic advantage over your competition by keeping up with the changes. In the busy holiday season, a misinformed competitor’s dead data feed could add up to a significant jump in your market share.
#5 Select Data Feed Settings that Improve Customer Experience: Make sure you’re on as many Comparison Shopping Engines as possible, and then carefully optimise data feed settings for each one. Don’t underestimate optional features like shipping and tax tables, which can differentiate your buying experience to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
#6 Paid Search: Product Listing Ads, Product Extensions and Keywords: When it comes to search, “less is more” doesn’t necessarily apply. Holiday shoppers often have exactly what they want in mind when they initiate a product search. Create at least five keywords per item, especially for products or lines you’re pushing this season. Focus on creating long tail keywords and consider ChannelAdvisor’s Inventory Driven Search feature, which automates keyword creation based on existing inventory data. Analyse product performance across Product Listing Ads, Product Search, Product Extensions, and Keywords.
#7 Get to know your social networks: Facebook and Google+: While Google+ may not hold any significant incentive for retailers now, Google has indicated that a future business-focused version of the application may be in the pipeline. If you haven’t noticed yet, everyone’s on Facebook—that means all your customers. Making an appearance on Facebook and Google+ will increase your visibility, allow you to interact with existing and prospect customers and position you to take advantage of any future business offerings the sites may introduce.
#8 Likes me, Likes Me Not, Likes Me: Implement Like and +1 buttons: It’s not enough just to be on Facebook and Google+. The “Like” and “+1” buttons are customers’ way of letting you know what they think. Implement these buttons on every product page on your website, marketplaces and engines that have the option. Visit ChannelAdvisor’s Facebook Commerce Strategies Blog for more tips on how to build a social strategy to interact with fans, receive customer feedback and increase website traffic.
#9 Make Friends with Mobile: Mobile-Friendly Websites and UPCs: Shoppers have taken their experience from brick-and-mortar stores to computers, and now increasingly to smart phones. The simplest thing to do to make sure you’re a mobile-friendly seller is to implement a mobile optimised version of your website. For starters, focus on the two main browsers: Apple Safari and Google Chrome. Customers are doing more barcode scanning these days too, so publish items with UPC codes to ensure your products appear in mobile comparison shopping engines.
These tips will help retailers prioritise their efforts and provide ideas on how they can use various channels like comparison shopping, paid search and marketplaces, and emerging channels like Facebook and mobile, to get ready for the holidays. With creative ideas on how to “dress up” their webstores and sound advice regarding venturing out to key international markets, retailers can get their business a 100% ready for the holiday shopping season.
My last tip is probably the most important…
#10 ACT NOW: and get ready for the holidays!!