Tips for a Successful Holiday Season in 2016

The holiday season is right around the corner, and when it comes, thousands of e-tailers will be clamoring for the orders of millions upon millions of consumers. Consider these tips to help your ecommerce site stand out from competitors and grab the attention (and the repeat business of) customers.
    

Customer Service

With so many ecommerce sites selling similar products, the way you handle the customer experience can be a key differentiator. Even though the holidays are high-volume, there are still easy ways to ensure that you’re providing customers with a good experience the first time (and every time) they purchase from you.

Value-added features

Coupons and contests are good ways to get attention – but during the holidays, every site is offering them. Think about ways a customer can find added value from choosing you over another ecommerce site. Some examples include membership or subscription programs, alternative payment options, customer-friendly returns, and other ideas.

Demonstrate your expertise

Customers that are interested in a particular category of products (e.g. tools, clothes, or nutritional supplements) seek sellers who are perceived as experts in the area. If your ecommerce site specializes in certain products, showcasing your passion and expertise via blog posts, newsletters, and social media posts demonstrates thought-leadership and trustworthiness – which can drive sales and enhance brand reputation.

Sales Tactics for Ecommerce

Just because the majority of ecommerce orders are completed without customers interacting with salespeople, doesn’t mean that there aren’t multiple types of selling strategies at your disposal. As long as have a good understanding of your audience and their shopping behaviors, you can use the following tactics to show off products and make sales that you may have otherwise missed.
    

Upselling

You can upsell to customers by recommending products that are higher in price, but more enticing (i.e. better quality, more features, etc.). Upsells should be based on items that a customer has already shown an interest in – otherwise, they're just untargeted ads. Read our previous blog post to learn tips and tricks for more effective upselling.

Down-Selling

Instead of offering a discount on a premium product to secure a sale, you can down-sell by suggesting a cheaper alternative product. This can be a great way to retain customers and keep inventory moving.

Cross-Selling

Cross-selling is when you suggest a product that complements another item a customer has shown an interest in, such as accessories. Cross-sales can increase customer satisfaction with their order, while increasing your revenue.

Bundle-Selling

Bundling products together at a cost lower than their individual combined prices can motivate customers to spend more to take advantage of the offer. Because of its similarity to cross-selling, you may want to try some A/B testing to figure out which tactic works best with your audience.

Ideas for Reinvigorating your Product Images

In ecommerce, images are an important part of the design for your product pages. The purpose of product images is to help customers get a strong grasp of what it is they’re actually buying. While the product description is also important for building this consumer confidence, images can be more impactful, since they are the closest thing to "experiencing" the product first-hand. To ensure the images for your product pages are effectively driving purchases, follow these best practices for ecommerce images.
    

Images should be properly sized

Image files should be as large as possible to show necessary details, but they also need to accommodate the design of the product page. Use modal windows (aka, lightboxes) to enlarge thumbnails and provide manipulation features (e.g. zoom, rotation, etc.).

Show as many variables as possible

Ideally, images answer all of a customer's potential questions about the product's size and appearance. Make sure that your product pages utilize a gallery of images to show customers as many models, colors, angles, and other variables as possible.

Use many types of images

Give your users something more than the standard manufacturer-provided photos – which tend to convey only the most basic information about a product. Add images of the product in use, before assembly, and on display to give customers more information. Additionally, you can allow previous customers to upload photos they have taken of the product.

Combining Customer Service & Social Media

Whether you’re an ecommerce or retail company, you’ll need a social media presence working alongside your corporate website in order to remain competitive. However, you shouldn't restrict your company's social media activity to marketing and advertising - there is a lot to be gained from using social media to extend your customer service capabilities. When properly executed, social media customer service programs can confer the following advantages.
    

Improved brand perception & customer relations

Because the feature provides a convenience to most consumers, offering customer support through social media is a great competitive differentiator. It's also an excellent opportunity to engage with customers - even the ones who don't need support. By promptly responding to customer issues on social media, you're demonstrating your commitment to customer service to all your followers (not just the ones who need assistance).  

Cost savings

According to a report from the Harvard Business Review, responding to a customer on social media can cost less than $1 per interaction, compared to an average of $6 per telephone interaction. If you’re improving customer retention on top of those savings, you can make a noticeable impact on your overall bottom line.

Product & business improvements

When it comes to social media, you get what you put into it. When a company regularly engages their customers on social media (through customer service or by posting responses and original content) those customers feel heard and appreciated. This makes them much more likely to share candid feedback, questions and complaints. Use this information to better understand your customers, improve your services, and fine-tune your marketing messages.

9 Tips to Lower Cart Abandonment Rates

Cart abandonment is one of the most common ways ecommerce sites lose sales. It’s a ubiquitous problem that happens to even the best sites. But fortunately, there are many features and preventative measures you can implement to improve sales and the customers’ experience.

Be clear on the final cost

Many ecommerce sites notice a huge bounce rate once a customer begins the checkout process and sees the final order total - especially if it has increased since the checkout process started. Since increases are usually due to shipping costs, include an estimated shipping fee as early as possible in the checkout process. Or, eliminate shipping charges altogether.

Don't force shoppers to create an account

Forcing a new customer to create an account with your website before completing a purchase has its pros and cons. While account creation helps you track user behavior and preferences, the process can be perceived as an inconvenience - plus, it adds another layer to what should be the simplest part of your website. In addition to adding "guest" or "express" features to your checkout process, try allowing shoppers to easily create an account via their social media login to ensure that your account base continues to grow.
    

Emphasize Security

In this day and age, customers want assurance that their financial data is safe. Highlight the security features of your site so customers can confidently complete a transaction.

Offer Multiple Payment Options

Alternative payment options like Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, PayPal, etc. help simplify the checkout process, come with built-in security features, and cater to shopper preferences.

Accommodate mobile users

Customers are using mobile devices more than ever before. If your checkout process is confusing or cumbersome on mobile devices, then your cart abandonment rate will likely increase. A responsive design that works on all screen sizes can solve this issue.

Highlight customers support options

Every action in the checkout should be easy to find – especially support options like FAQs, live chat, and other customer service features. Make sure they are clearly available during each stage of checkout.

Auto-apply Coupons

Shoppers become understandably frustrated when they get deep into the checkout process only to find that their discount code doesn’t apply to their order. If your store is having a sale or offering a particular discount, automatically apply the coupon code at checkout, or display coupon codes in a site-wide banner for customers.

Include options to modify orders

Make sure customers can change the quantity, color, size, and other attributes of the items in their order without having to leave the checkout.

Maintain site stability and speed

If your checkout process crashes or loads too slowly, it’s going to cost you sales. Make sure to test it thoroughly and account for potential user actions, like using the browser’s back button.