Businesses and economies across the globe are recovering from the damage caused by Covid-19.
For instance, the Australian economy — after experiencing a record 7% drop in the GDP during Q2 of 2020, jumped back by 9.6% between June 2020 and June 2021. Furthermore, of the total jobs lost due to the pandemic, 93% are recovered.
Hence, business and consumer confidence are also high. Moreover, the Christmas season also brings some reasons to rejoice.
According to a forecast by Adobe Analytics, the coming Christmas season will generate $910 billion worth of eCommerce revenue globally, which is an 11% growth over last year’s season sales.
While customers will get busy planning for celebrations and gifts for their loved ones, e-stores are gearing up for their busiest days of the year.
Being an online business owner, you may also be pressed for time currently. So let’s cut to the chase and dive straight into the tactics to prep up your e-store with an effective Christmas eCommerce Strategy to help you optimise your conversion rates.
But before we begin, let’s understand the challenges that most eCommerce businesses face during the Christmas season so that you can neutralise them.
Challenges for eCommerce Stores During the Christmas Season Sale
The Christmas season brings happiness for consumers and businesses alike. Customers are happy to have time off and shop for new goodies. At the same time, businesses are happy to see their revenues multiply during this time.
Since most people indulge in a shopping spree to buy gifts for themselves and their loved ones, you need to prepare your e-store for challenges like:
Handling the Surge in Website Traffic
Well, who doesn’t like increased traffic on their website?
We know that more traffic equals more customers and sales. And it’s that time of year when your website may see the highest number of visitors.
Statistics show that online retail traffic grew by 207% from November 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. Here’s the category-wise break up of the website traffic during the 2020 eCommerce Christmas season sale.
However, if your site is not prepared to handle the sudden surge in traffic, it may hinder your website performance and make it unserviceable for some time. This can result in a lot of lost sales.
Hence, you need to optimise your website disk space and bandwidth with the help of your hosting service provider and other technology partners.
If you’re using a shared hosting service, consider switching to a dedicated server for your site so that you have full control over your bandwidth.
Significant Demand Surplus
As the demand increases during Christmas, you need to procure adequate inventory ahead of the season so that you get them at competitive rates.
For example, The Athlete’s Foot and Stylerunner — brands that sell athletic-inspired footwear, apparel, and accessories — witnessed a 142% spike in Q4 digital sales in Australia during 2020.
Here the challenge is if you overstock the products and they remain unsold, you’d end up spending more on warehousing. On the other hand, inadequate inventory will make your customers go to your competitors.
Hence, you need to forecast the demand for the Christmas season with the right forecasting techniques and plan your stock levels accordingly.
Besides, you would also need to check if your current logistical resources are capable of meeting the multiplied shipping demand.
Additional Spending on Ads
If you’re advertising through paid ads on Google or other search engines, you may see your ad spend budget shoot up during the festive season.
For instance, the brands’ ad spend on Amazon Prime Day deals during October 2020 shot up by 209%.
Therefore, you need to reconsider your advertising strategy during this month. For example, if you’re currently paying per click, you may want to switch to the cost-per-acquisition method. It means that instead of paying for clicks on the ads, you’ll pay for every conversion through ads.
Also, you can limit your advertising budget for this period to avoid over-spending on ads.
Maintaining Customer Satisfaction
The demand spike during the Christmas season is largely due to people buying gifts for friends and family. So they are extra concerned about on-time delivery, accurate product, package conditions etc.
Hence, you also have an additional responsibility to ensure that all goes well for them. So consider having extra customer support and logistics personnel to meet the customers’ requirements.
Establishing Clear Policies and Customer Support
You may also need to adjust your policies for the eCommerce Christmas season sale.
For instance, offer an extended return or exchange window to your shoppers since most of the products are bought for gifting purposes.
It’s additional support for your customers in case they want to exchange sizes or buy a different product.
Moreover, you may want to highlight any impact on delivery time on orders coming from Covid affected regions or countries. So update your policy pages accordingly and also communicate the same during checkout.
Staying Ahead of the Competition
Since you’ll be competing with a lot of eCommerce players in the market, it’s important to stay competitive as well as profitable.
Most e-stores would offer attractive deals and discounts to influence maximum customers during the eCommerce Christmas sale. So if you try to compete by offering the lowest prices, you’d reduce your profit margin.
At the same time, if there’s no price advantage, the customers would shop from your competitors that offer lower rates. Hence, you need to strike a balance to stay profitable.
Here, the key is in:
- Reducing inventory costs: You can do this by planning ahead and acquiring products at the lowest possible rates. This allows you to offer lower prices to your customers and still keep your profit margins.
- Increase Average Order Value (AOV): For this, you can offer bundle deals, additional discounts or gift cards on purchases beyond a minimum threshold, offer add-on products at lower rates etc. All these combined help you increase your e-store’s AOV and sales volume.
Moreover, you can also test your promo strategies to see what works best for your e-store. For example, CellularOutfitter could increase their AOV by 10% as a result of conducting A/B tests of their promo strategy and other website elements.
How to Prepare Your eCommerce Store for the Christmas Season
We have outlined some of the best ways to get your eCommerce store ready for the Christmas season sale.
Here they are.
Start Planning Marketing Campaigns Sooner
Besides planning your inventory early on, you also need to plan ahead for your marketing campaigns to promote your Christmas eCommerce deals.
You want to do this for reasons such as:
- Customers also plan their Christmas purchases well in advance.
- You can position yourself ahead of your competitors by advertising your deals before they do.
- You get enough time to test your campaigns before going live. Moreover, you can redesign your advertisements if the former doesn’t get traction.
To start with:
- Define your goals for the Christmas season
- Research your target audience
- Create your advertisements
- Select media channels that your target audience use
- Go live with your eCommerce Christmas campaign
Optimizing for Mobile Users
Mobile commerce accounts for more than 70% of the total eCommerce sales. It is growing faster than any other eCommerce channel with a year-on-year growth rate of 33.8% and the revenue is likely to touch $3.56 trillion by the end of 2021.
Considering the above facts, you simply can’t afford to ignore the user experience on your mobile site and app. So ensure that you’re optimising them for mobile.
This is how Etsy’s mobile site looks.
Here are some quick tips you can follow.
- Check your website by running Google’s mobile-friendly test for your website and follow the optimisation suggestions.
- Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)
- Pre-fill the customer details at checkout
- Remove the sidebars and pop-ups from the mobile site, etc.
Streamline the Checkout Process
A Customer adding product to the basket and proceeding to checkout is only half the reason to be happy about. But celebrate only once payment is through and the order is confirmed.
This is because nearly 69% of the shoppers abandon their shopping carts at the checkout. And this ratio may increase during the Christmas eCommerce Sale.
While you may not have control over all the reasons that lead to cart abandonment, you can certainly control the damage happening due to the issues in your checkout process.
Take a look at some of the common reasons for cart abandonment.
As you can see most of the reasons are the challenges that customers face while checking out.
Hence, ensure to:
- Keep transparency on the shipping and handling charges.
- Don’t mandate account creation. Allow guest checkout.
- Simplify and shorten your checkout process by saving customers’ shipping and billing information in their accounts.
- Provide multiple payment options and test your payment gateway for errors.
- Select a minimalistic design for the checkout page.
Optimize the Website Speed
Did you know that 57% of customers leave a site that takes more than three seconds to load?
On top of that, your website handles much more traffic than usual during the Christmas season. So your pages may take even longer to load.
Further, your site speed also affects the conversion rate. If you want to improve conversions you should target a page load time between 0-2 seconds because that’s where you get the highest conversion rate.
For instance, 200 customers visited your site for a $50 product. Now based on the above conversion rates:
- If your page loads in less than 1 second, your revenue at an 8.11% conversion rate equals $811.
- If your page takes 4 seconds to load, your revenue at a 2.24% conversion rate equals $224.
Thus, a three seconds increase in page load time resulted in nearly 73% lower sales in this case. Therefore, optimising your site for faster performance is non-negotiable.
- Compress the images and videos on your site
- Keep minimum third-party integrations on your site
- Choose a hosting service with a dedicated server
- Reduce redirected pages, etc.
Prepare and Implement a Christmas Shopping Guide
People tend to overthink when it comes to gifting. A Christmas shopping guide helps your shoppers in their buying decisions.
Especially if you’re an eCommerce store with a vast range of products, you must prepare a Christmas gifting guide for the season. Today these guides are mostly in digital format, but you can also print and send them to your customers.
Let’s take a look at the basics of curating a Christmas shopping guide:
- Selecting the right products: Look at the historical sales data and also check with your suppliers about the latest trends to get an idea of what products to feature in your guide.
- Categorise the products: You can categorise products by age, budget, gender, product type, etc.
- Shopping guide format: You can create the guide in single or multiple formats like landing pages, PDFs, hard copy etc. If you design a gift landing page and optimise it for SEO, it can attract more visitors to your website.
Here’s an example of Anthropologie’s gifting guide.
Consider Alternate Payment Options
Gone are the days when shoppers were averse to making payments online and preferred cash-on-delivery (COD). In fact, consumers have welcomed the new age payment systems with open arms.
Take digital or mobile wallets for instance, 44.5% of the eCommerce payments in 2020 were done using this method. Whereas only 3.3% chose COD.
When you offer more payment options to your customers, it adds to their convenience.
Hence, besides the conventional payment methods like credit & debit cards, COD, bank transfer, etc. you should also equip your checkout with:
- Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL): With BNPL your customers can buy the products immediately and pay for them in future either all at once or in instalments. This helps you reduce cart abandonment and increase
- conversions since it provides customers with budget constraints the relief of paying in small chunks over the next few weeks or months. Some of the popular BNPL options include Klarna, Sezzle, Afterpay, Openpay etc.
- Digital wallets: Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Lemon Wallet, Stocard.
- Payment APIs: PayPal, Stripe, Pin Payments, Braintree etc.
- Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.
With Greater Orders, Come Higher Returns
As the cliche goes — there are always two sides of the coin — the more purchases also increase the probability of higher returns. On average, 30% of the online orders are returned.
But don’t get disheartened.
Consumers have replaced brick-and-mortar shopping with eCommerce buying. So the way they try a few outfits in the shop and buy one or two, they also follow the same pattern while shopping online.
Shoppers order multiple items, keep the ones they like and return the rest thanks to free shipping & returns. And that’s okay, it’s pretty much a part of retail.
So here your aim should be to provide the best customer service and not stress over the returns. Because when you help your buyers with excellent support during the exchange and returns, they would love to shop with you again.
Hence, strengthen your logistics for Christmas season deliveries and post-Christmas returns. Besides, you can always hire experts for seamless reverse logistics.
Stack up Attractive Deals and Discounts
Customers literally wait for this time of year.
They get the best eCommerce deals and discounts during Christmas time.
While most of the eCommerce stores stock similar product lines, the easiest way to stand out and win customers is by giving them offers that are too hard to resist.
This is how Amazon Australia is pampering their shoppers with Black Friday deals.
Let’s take a look at some of the ideas you can implement in your e-store.
- Discounted prices: It’s a common practice to show the discounted price next to the original price. However, you can top up the Christmas offers with further discounts. For example, an extra discount if the cart value exceeds X amount. This makes your customers happily buy more from your site.
- Extra reward points: Besides the added discounts, you can also offer additional reward points for purchases during the Christmas eCommerce sale. This will ensure that consumers will come back to buy more later. Moreover, it’s also an opportunity to convert first-time buyers into repeat customers.
- Personalised offers: It’s a dynamic way of increasing conversions and total order value. For instance, you can offer:
- A special discount on items in abandoned carts, recently viewed, saved for later, etc.
- A customised gift if the total order exceeds X amount or quantity.
- Special discounts for loyal customers, etc.
- Surprise discounts: You can introduce gamification like spin the wheel discounts, scratch cards, lucky draws, and more on your site or app. It also engages your shoppers.
Implement a Countdown for Sales and Discounts
When consumers see the messages like “last 8 hours of mega discounts” or “only 5 items left”, it ignites a sense of urgency or FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in them.
Here are the ways you can pass on the countdown message to your customers:
- Emails: Send the Christmas offers with a live countdown timer to your email subscribers.
- Social media: Post daily or multiple times in a day on all your social accounts.
- Website banner: Display the live countdown timer banner on your website.
For instance, check the Black Friday sale countdown timer on Woolworths’ website.
Partner with Logistics Experts
Be it a Christmas eCommerce sale or otherwise, you need robust logistical support to sustain and scale your online business. The whole idea of online shopping is built around delivering products to your customers at their doorstep accurately, quickly, and efficiently.
In other words, logistics is the backbone of your e-business and it can make or break your eCommerce success story.
To add to it, the Christmas rush demands extra care in shipping the products because it’s the wrong time to disappoint your customers with inaccurate or delayed deliveries. Spoiling their Christmas gifting plans can cost you a customer for life.
Hence, choose the right third-party logistics (3PL) provider since they are well equipped to handle the busy seasons of online businesses. Furthermore, they invest heavily in infrastructure and tech-stack that eliminates the errors in the order fulfilment process.
Create Hype Using Social Media
Social media is an ideal platform to run your eCommerce Christmas campaigns because the majority of online shoppers (or your target audience) are active on these platforms.
The smart tactic is to start your social media campaigns early on — say a couple of months before Christmas. By doing this, you can take the advantage of low pay-per-click advertising costs since they tend to rise during the season.
Moreover, it also gives you time to design and experiment with various types of social media campaigns.
Here’s Zara flaunting their gift guide on Facebook.
To make your Christmas season social campaigns effective:
- Post multiple times a day on your social accounts
- Run ads on Facebook and Instagram
- Create festivity inspired hashtags
- Run contests on social media
- Start going live on social accounts before and during the season sale
- Create shoppable Instagram posts, etc.
In short, create a buzz on all the fronts so that you can reach the maximum users.
Besides driving the revenue, the Christmas eCommerce sale is a great opportunity to increase your social following and engagement with existing followers. It builds long-term relationships and brand reputation.
Utilize Affiliates and Micro-Influencers
The affiliates and social influencers have a dedicated and highly-engaged audience on multiple platforms. That’s why they can create a greater influence on them as opposed to generic digital ads.
In fact, 49% of consumers trust influencer recommendations while purchasing products.
Hence, it’s a smart move to work with the influencers to promote your Christmas offers.
Here, the key is to partner with the right set of influencers. For example, choosing an interior design influencer for your home decor & furniture product category can be much more effective than commissioning a travel influencer.
Thus, do your research and join hands with the niche affiliates and influencers that suit your product lines. Also, ensure you offer a good deal to influencers so they are also equally excited to promote your Christmas eCommerce deals.
Create a Top-Notch Post Purchase Experience
As an eCommerce retailer, it’s important for you to know that your customers’ excitement levels raise even more after they hit the shop now button on your site.
Hence, your post-purchase experience should live up to their expectations.
Check out how Chubbies drive post-purchase engagement with their users by offering them loyalty points on specific actions they take.
Here’s what you can do to delight your customers after their Christmas purchases:
- Celebrate your customers’ new purchases by sending them creative and exciting order-confirmation notifications instead of standard boring templates.
- Make sure you’re updating every progress starting from order-confirmation communication till the expected time on delivery day and everything in between.
- By any chance, if there’s any expected delay, handle it with prompt communication, apology, and a little extra care.
- Prepare your team and also deploy an extra customer support crew to handle the Christmas splurge. Remember, the festive rush can’t be an excuse for poor customer service.
- Offer loyalty rewards/points that encourage them to engage more with your brand on various digital channels.
Use Analytics to Your Advantage
Since you run the Christmas season marketing campaigns, your website would see a lot more traffic than usual.
As an e-store owner, you must keep track of your website performance, traffic, conversions, etc. Check if the conversions are in alignment with the increased traffic.
With these real-time analytics data, your team can fine-tune and optimise the campaigns as required.
For example, you noticed that certain product category pages are performing very well. So you may want to allocate more resources to promote them aggressively.
Alternatively, if you see that certain products have a very high cart abandonment rate. Then you can customise the cart abandonment emails accordingly and offer additional deals.
Here are some of the eCommerce analytics tools you can use to analyse your traffic and user behaviour:
Tap into First-time Buyers
Usually, consumers are loyal to one or two eCommerce retailers. But during Christmas time, they like to explore more options and better deals for buying gifts.
This makes the Christmas season a perfect time to acquire new customers and convert them into loyal customers.
First, you need to ensure that they are getting the best offers on your site so they consider trying your e-store.
Then, provide them with a stellar buying and post-purchase experience so that they are happy about their decision. Further, offer them attractive loyalty program benefits so that they have a reason to come back.
7 CRO Tactics for Your Christmas eCommerce Strategy
Here are some of the Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) tactics to include in your Christmas eCommerce strategy that can help you multiply your revenue in 2022.
#1 Personalization is Key
Personalising customer experience is a sure-fire way to capture your audience’s attention.
Here are some Christmas season personalisation tips to consider:
- Start with a festive make-over of your website homepage
- Fetch a detailed report of your site visitors and design offers according to their interests
- Create attractive landing pages and load them with your best Christmas deals
- Offer a first-purchase discount or coupon to buyers
- Equip your site to capture customers’ buying intention during the initial browsing sessions and offer product recommendations accordingly
#2 Offer Bundled Deals
Bundling is a great way to help your customers save their costs and increase your average order value (AOV) at the same time.
Since people buy products for gifting purposes during Christmas, they would love to get product bundles instead of buying single items. This would not only save their time but also cost them less.
For example, see how Sephora has bundled 16 beauty products together to create a Christmas season gift set for their shoppers.
Thus, customers get the best value for their money.
Things to consider while offering bundles:
- Create a bundle for similar products.
- If you’re creating a bundle for products that come in different sizes — clothing bundle or similar — ensure that you allow customers to select the size & colour for each product in the bundle.
- Check inventory levels of all the products included in the bundle.
- Name the bundles.
#3 Utilize Push Notifications for Customers
Push notifications have seven times more click-rate than emails. Moreover, customers also don’t mind giving permission to send them push notifications because they don’t need to reveal any personal information like name, email address, etc.
Hence, you must use them to remind your customers about upcoming and ongoing Christmas deals. You may send them personalised reminders like items in their abandoned cart that they might have forgotten about.
You can send these notifications on the web browser as well as mobile apps, provided customers have opted for it.
#4 Improvise Based on Past Data
Your past mistakes are great sources to learn from and improve your business operations. You’d be following it anyway, but if we take the context of eCommerce Christmas sale, check last season’s challenges like:
- The inventory challenges: For example, the product categories that went out of stock while customers still wanted to purchase more. Also, check the inventory that didn’t sell as you expected. So, fine-tune your procurement accordingly.
- Marketing campaigns results: Were you able to achieve desired traffic and conversions in last season's sale? If not, then analyse what went wrong and what changes you need to make for this year’s campaigns.
- Website performance: Did your website handle the traffic surge efficiently? Get into Google Analytics and evaluate the user experience metrics. For example, study the pages with the highest bounce rate, check if there are any issues and fix them.
Similarly, you can study last year’s data related to logistics, customer satisfaction, return processing, etc. and improve your strategies for this Christmas season.
#5 Be COVID-Conscious
While Covid-19 has escalated the need for online shopping, it has had eCommerce businesses take extra care during their encounter with customers.
So if you’re following all the safety measures, why not tell your customers that you care for them and it’s safe to order from you?
Here are some of the ways you can communicate your Covid precautions verbally and in action.
- Adding Covid Guidelines/Covid Response page on your website
- Insisting cashless and contactless payments
- By contactless deliveries, etc.
#6 Implement a Stellar Content Strategy
You need to approach the Christmas season with a holistic approach that includes paid advertising as well as SEO to attract maximum shoppers to your site.
While paid ads generate instant traffic, organic results take time. At the same time, content is a digital asset that keeps driving traffic and conversions over the months and even years, unlike paid campaigns that give you results till the time ads are live.
Thus, you need both. So plan your Christmas season content strategy well in advance.
Here’s what you can do:
- Start creating and publishing optimised content for Christmas eCommerce deals at least three months before the season starts.
- Update old content that is relevant for the coming Christmas season.
- Align content topics with your Christmas sale goals
- Market your content on various platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Emails, Reddit, etc.
#7 Use Upselling and Cross-Selling to Boost Impulse Purchases
Upselling refers to offering a superior or premium version of the product to customers. Whereas cross-selling is when you sell them related items or accessories that enhance the experience of the main product.
One benefit of upselling and cross-selling is that you can help your customers get better products and experiences by offering recommendations. And the other is that it increases the AOV for your e-store.
You can upsell and cross-sell on:
- Homepage: Display your best product lines and deals on your homepage.
- Product pages: This is where customers are more likely to engage since they visit product pages that interest them. Here, you can recommend premium or better versions of products.
- Shopping cart: This is the ideal place where you can cross-sell related items since customers would’ve already chosen the main product they need.
Now that we have discussed a lot of tips and tricks on making the best use of this Christmas season to scale your eCommerce sales, it’s time to go out there and start implementing the strategies.
Remember, planning ahead is the key. So create marketing campaigns that align with your eCommerce Christmas season sales goals and start promoting well in advance.
Also, prepare your website to handle the amplified traffic and ensure that you have adequate inventory to satisfy your customers’ needs. Furthermore, offer attractive discounts, deals, and product bundles to raise your sales volume.
And most importantly, provide a stellar personalised shopping experience, post-purchase support, and timely product deliveries to keep your customers delighted.
Happy Christmas Conversions :)
Frequently Asked Questions
How do eCommerce retailers prepare for the Christmas season?
The eCommerce retailers start preparing for the Christmas sales at least three months before the season starts. They start with forecasting the demand and procure the inventory accordingly.
What are the best months for online sales?
With sales events like Black Friday, Christmas Day, Cyber Monday, etc., November and December months are considered the best months for online retailers.
How can I sell more during the Christmas season?
You can sell more by offering attractive discounts, deals, and product bundles during the Christmas season.
What is the Christmas shopping season?
The time before and after Christmas Day is referred to as the Christmas season. The Christmas season usually starts in late November and lasts until early January.
How is retail doing this Christmas season?
It can be too early to comment on the performance of the coming Christmas season. However, the overall consumers and retailers are optimistic about the season.
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