Holiday retail sales are big business. In fact, recent studies indicate that holiday purchases can account for 30% of a retailer’s annual sales.
But, as with everything in life, success isn’t guaranteed. If you’re an ecommerce store owner, it’s worth putting some effort into your preparations now so you can make the most of the holiday shopping rush.
So, where should you be putting your efforts to boost your holiday ecommerce sales?
These seven essential strategies can make all the difference between slightly elevated online sales and a blockbuster holiday season.
1. Set your operations up for success
First and foremost, make sure you have what you need to serve a heavy flow of customers. That includes making sure your online store actually has the stock customers want to buy!
Stock up on your star products – Review your sales data to identify popular products, as well as those that make great holiday gifts or accessories. Then make sure you have ample stock of those items well before the holiday rush starts.
Have a buffer – Consider investing in safety stock for really popular items, just in case demand outpaces supply.
Check in with your suppliers – Make sure they’re prepared to deliver your required quantities on time. Remember that they might be facing high order volumes of their own.
Consider any storage limitations – Do you have enough space in your warehouses to account for the extra stock?
Have enough packaging materials – Check that you have ample quantities of everything required for packing up and shipping the increased volume of products.
2. Use live chat as a sales tool
Live chat is a powerful tool for resolving online shoppers’ questions. But a solution like ChatSO has applications beyond customer service. It can actually go a long way to helping you make online holiday sales by turning casual browsers into active shoppers.
Your agents can see what visitors are doing on your site and send them prompts such as, “Hi, I’ve noticed you’re browsing our gifts section. Can I help you find anything special?”.
During the chat, agents can easily access an AI-generated list of products likely to appeal to the customer and share them as recommendations. This is a powerful opportunity to cinch holiday purchases, or upsell or cross-sell additional items.
If you’re dealing with excess stock of a certain product, agents can filter the recommendations list to show products that are currently overstocked – then help move them by suggesting them to customers.
3. Offer fast delivery
If you provide local delivery, this is a great time to optimize your operations and start advertising next-day or even same-day delivery.
Shoppers are increasingly put off by long delivery times. For holiday season shoppers, speedy delivery holds a lot of value. In a recent survey of holiday shopping trends, more than half of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers indicated they would be willing to pay extra for same-day delivery.
With so many events on the horizon, holiday shoppers are thinking in terms of deadlines: they need that new tableware in for the party they’re hosting, or that novelty mug for their workplace’s Secret Santa day.
If same- or next-day delivery sounds too complicated, check out our fast shipping guide for small businesses.
4. Use free delivery as an incentive
Even if it’s just for the holidays, free shipping is a powerful draw that can help maximize your holiday sales.
Requiring your online shoppers to qualify for free shipping – for example, by setting a minimum order value threshold – can be an effective way to increase their average order value.
Setting this threshold thoughtfully also ensures that your free shipping promotion won’t cut into your holiday season profits.
5. Personalize your marketing
“One-size-fits all” is rarely true of clothing, and even less so for marketing. Your customers are individuals with different backgrounds, habits, and pain points – so why would you try to reach them all with the same marketing efforts?
Take a good look at who your customers are, segment them into groups, then target each group separately with holiday shopping campaigns that really speaks to them. This principle should apply not only to the content of your messaging, but also to the channels and formats you use.
Not only will a segmented approach yield better results; it will result in better use of your marketing budget.
Our guide to personalization in marketing is a great place to start thinking about tailoring your holiday campaigns.
6. Launch a loyalty program
You have a lot going on during the holiday season – so launching a new program might be the last thing on your mind.
But loyalty programs can be incredibly effective ways to generate business, and the momentum of the holidays provides an excellent springboard to launch one.
Holiday shoppers are hungry for deals and perks. Offering a small signup bonus to new loyalty program members is a small price to pay for getting them into your ecosystem. Once they’ve registered, you can use all kinds of engagement strategies to turn them into regular online shoppers.
If you use an ecommerce platform, you can set up the fundamentals of your program easily. Then, kickstart it by working it into your holiday marketing campaigns.
Gear up for a sales blizzard!
If you’ve followed these tips, you’re well on your way to a happy holiday sales season. Remember that while increasing your holiday ecommerce sales is a worthy goal, you should also be focused on delighting your customers with excellent service.
It’s much cheaper to retain loyal customers than it is to acquire new ones – and with every sale you make, you have an opportunity to gain valuable data, reach out and engage customers, and turn them into lifelong enthusiasts.