During peak holiday times of the year, millions of consumers flood to bricks-and-mortar stores and websites in search of the best bargains. Between the now multi-cultural phenomenon of the Black Friday sales, holiday-season shopping and the January Sales, the autumn and winter months are a great time for retailers.
Investing in ecommerce optimisation can help you take advantage of the increase in the number of shoppers that occurs during this period. Some optimisations, such as improving your caching system or using a CDN, are quite simple to put in place. Others require a greater time investment, but will pay off many times over by improving your conversion rates and sales.Use Seasonal, Time-Limited Discounts.
If your CMS supports it, run one-day-only or weekend-only sales to coincide with the major holidays. Consider international shoppers when picking which sales to participate in, and don't assume that British shoppers don't do Black Friday or that American shoppers don't care about bank holidays. This is particularly important if you're selling digital goods. Shoppers don't care what the occasion is — they love a good deal at any time of the year, and celebrating a special event simply makes your website look more legitimate because it makes it obvious that the sale is time-limited and that you care enough about your brand to run short-term seasonal sales.Use a Countdown Timer.
When you're running that time-limited sale, provide a countdown to show when it will end. If you can, show stock figures for items that you discount as well. This will give your customers a sense of urgency, which makes them more likely to buy. If they know that the sale ends in eight hours, and you have only three of an item left, they'll be less likely to pass up the chance to take advantage of the discount you are promoting.
If you decide to use a stock counter, then don't show large numbers. Use "20+" or something similar, because this still creates a sense of scarcity. Clearly stating "100,000 in stock" will leave your visitors questioning why you have so many of the items left, unless of course you are Xiaomi and you sell all 100,000 units of mobile phones in 86 seconds but this is extremely rare.Promote Your Sale.
Use your email list, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube followers and other marketing options to your advantage. Don't just send out mass emails about the sale and leave it at that. Post seasonal updates, run some competitions and engage with your followers as much as possible. Consider using email to remind users about items on their wish list, or to ask them if they intended to abandon their shopping cart halfway through a transaction. Notices such as "A book on your wish list is on sale!" can work wonders for getting people to come back to your website and complete that purchase.
Of course, these notifications should be used sparingly. It is easy to irritate email subscribers and have them unsubscribe or block your messages as being spam. Tread carefully, and think about how you would feel if a website you subscribed to used your contact details to send you a similar message.
There are many caveats to successful ecommerce optimisation, one of the primary ones being how easy the website is to actually use to procure a purchase. For those invested in improving their users' experience the positive impact to a company's top-line can be dramatic.
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