7 Tips for a successful Christmas Season in eCommerce

Summer has passed and September has arrived. That means, everyone working in e-commerce can already hear the christmas bells ringing. That’s why now is the right time for e-commerce entrepreneurs to think about the upcoming months. If you don’t want to keep on sweating despite the colder temperatures during the Christmas season, you should consider following 7 tips for a successful Christmas time.

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1. Don’t underestimate the potential of sales before and after Christmas

It is widely known that the months of Christmas season are the strongest in terms of sales in retail and especially in e-commerce. Halloween is the start of high season for online shops. The times when only the Christmas business itself was the revenue driver are long gone. Before the actual Christmas shopping starts, there are these 8 important shopping days in the Holiday season. They are another attractive opportunity to boost the number of orders in the online shop. For example, the Single’s Day, Grey Thursday as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will make your sales peak in November.

One might think that these days can be used as a test for the actual Christmas business. However, for many companies the aforementioned shopping days have become just as important as Christmas business itself. They are therefore the focus of attention. In order to be able to guarantee a smooth operational flow, it is crucial to take the right measures at the right time.

However, it is not only important that you make the most of the time before Christmas Eve. The minority of online merchants already think about the time after that – that’s a big mistake if you don’t want to miss a great sales opportunity. The holidays between Christmas and New Year’s Eve offer an enormous sales potential. People spend time with their beloved ones, are happy and have plenty of time. It’s not uncommon for family run out of topics to talk about at some point. Consequently, the usage of smartphones rises. Since coupons and money are given away as gifts to a large extent for Christmas, it is your chance to boost your numbers for the year one last time. You could offer “Santa didn’t bring what I wanted” discounts for example. By doing that you can stand out from the crowd and make more sales on the last days before New Year’s Eve.

2. Optimize the User Experience

“There is no second chance for the first impression”

This quote from Arthur Schopenhauer, fits perfectly to online shopping, especially during the Christmas season. Particularly during this time the visitors of your website are often potential new customers. In order not to drive the prospective customers away again, the order process should be kept as simple as possible. It is also important to note that older people’s internet usage rises dramatically, when it comes to shopping. There is even a term for older people using the internet – Silver Surfer. They are becoming increasingly important for e-commerce entrepreneurs and their potential should not be underestimated.

What does all of this mean? The ordering process should not take more than a few clicks.

In addition, there has been an enormous increase in the use of mobile devices when purchasing various products online. Especially during the Christmas season, when every second person is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Christmas shopping in the subway is a common thing among online shoppers. So you need to get your online shop up to speed. Pictures and texts must not be distorted or repositioned here. If pictures and other parts of your webshop are not adapted to the screens of smartphones, potential customers will very quickly search on other, optimized pages.

Just as important is the loading speed of websites. The big advantage of online shopping is that you can save yourself from waiting in long queues. Potential customers react very sensitively to delays in loading websites. Even the shortest loading times have a negative impact on customer satisfaction. Google PageSpeed is a good tool in order to test how well your website is prepared for this challenge.

Another topic with which the experience of online shopping can be decisively improved is so-called unboxing. The unpacking of products has become an important part of the buying experience in e-commerce. Online retailers know how important influencers and micro-influencers have become. A special packaging contributes to a good first impression and motivates many people to share photos online – in other words, they promote your product for free.

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3. Prepare your E-Commerce Fulfillment

“If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

Benjamin Franklin’s quote can be applied 100% to online shops during and before Christmas Season. In order not to be overwhelmed by the huge number of online orders at the end of the year and miss out on potential sales, preparations have to be made before the flood of orders begins. Deliberated e-commerce fulfillment is the key to success.

This includes the planning of increased temporary personnel requirements. More sales translate into an increasing number of shipments which require more helping hands to guarantee well-functioning e-commerce fulfillment. Packing and shipping parcels is time-consuming – that’s a fact. To avoid searching overpriced alternatives at short notice or even being unable to deliver at all in the worst case, always plan realistically and as early as possible.

Of course, you should also keep an eye on your stock and increase it before Christmas time, if necessary. Take advantage of your experience of the last years in inventory management. Also, let your logistics service provider know about any irregularities. Bad performance of e-commerce fulfillment inevitably leads to disappointed customers.

So you need to come up with a plan to make the most of this turbulent time. Nevertheless, a plan that cannot be changed is a bad plan. This means that mistakes can always happen and rarely everything goes exactly as expected. In such cases, a plan B or plan C is worth its weight in gold. It can prevent customers from having to celebrate Christmas without gifts. If, for example, there are major difficulties with a forwarding service provider, it should be possible to switch to another company at short notice in an emergency.

What you might not think of at first, is that the increased workload does not end with Christmas itself. A lot of work in January is waiting for everyone in that sector as well. Many gifts are exchanged or returned. In addition, the redemption of coupons brings a lot of traffic. This means that even after the end of the year, entrepreneurs will be anything but bored. If you are prepared for it, you will avoid frustration. Instead, you can be happy about your sales.

4. Optimize your Online Shop’s Marketing

Products that no one knows about are not bought by anyone – not even during the Christmas season. That’s why it is essential to make sure that potential buyers know about your products.  Consider carefully all the channels that are available to you. No matter whether you want to reach more traffic on your web shop through social media, e-mails or simply through conversations with family, friends, or friends of friends – use your full potential.

Product bundles are an attractive purchase option, especially for non-creative giftmakers. These bundles can help you to stay one step ahead of your competitors and increase the size of your shopping basket. This will also increase your turnover.

If it has not come to your mind by your own yet, now is the time to make your online shop ready for Christmas. Put a Christmas hat on your logo or let Rudolph fly through your website. There are no limits to your creativity. However, you can also go in the opposite direction and think of the Christmas haters among your visitors. The grinches among them will thank you if there is a christmas free area on your website.

If you have implemented the mentioned tips well, you will have another problem for Christmas time. Many customers tend to do their Christmas shopping just before “Santa is coming”. Nevertheless, it is essential for you to be able to deliver your products on time.  In order to be able to provide for happy children’s (and adult’s) eyes and moments of joy, it is the goal that orders are placed as early as possible. How do you get your customers to order as early as possible?

In this case, promotions and discounts that expire around the end of November can help. Some consumers will start ordering earlier because of these promotions. A timer and, in some cases, the current stock can be made visible on the website. The perceived time pressure tempts buyers to place their orders immediately. Early discounts for products that are difficult to deliver are recommended, while the sale of fast-moving and fast-deliverable products can also be promoted at a later date. The best place to do this is usually the landing page.

Studies have shown that a call-to-action can have a significant impact on sales figures. A call-to-action is a request to the customer to do something concrete. “Order now” or “Get information now” are examples.

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5. Win loyal customers to increase your turnover

As already mentioned, buyers in the Christmas business are often fist-time purchasers. Although every online retailer has many other topics in mind during this time, they should keep in mind that the first sale is both – the first and often the last chance to turn a new customer into a repeat customer. An attractive way to motivate consumers to buy again is, for example, the supplement of vouchers and discounts for a purchase in February. That is when the Christmas and after-Christmas season is over and the returns have decreased. This voucher could also be redeemable in the summer slump.

You can also use the same principle on the shopping days mentioned in 1., or generally in the pre-Christmas period, to boost the Christmas business even more.

6.Ensure maximum transparency for delivery

Transparency is a very important keyword these days. E-Commerce is no exception. According to a study by Estudio Copenhagen Economics, 80% of respondents said that tracking is part of a good service. In order to increase customer experience, digital notifications are also an advantage. It is well known that the customer is king and therefore every opportunity should be taken to increase customer satisfaction.

7. Build trust with your customers

Especially during the Christmas season, consumers are overwhelmed with information. They often look for products they have had no experience with before or with which they are hardly familiar. Few men would call themselves experts in the fields of jewellery, cosmetics and clothing. Nevertheless, in Germany and Austria and most other countries all these product groups are among the top 10 gifts in 2018.

So there is a lot of uncertainty among buyers. It is this uncertainty that you have to eliminate. Collect good ratings from other customers as early as possible. The call-to-action explained above can be helpful here. Let your existing buyers know how important their ratings are to you. You will be amazed at how many people take time to help you.

Respond as quickly as possible, always friendly and with a precise solution to any negative comments.

Add seals of approval if possible. These seals of approval show that your online shop works reliably, meets standards and is trustworthy. No matter whether TrustedShop, EHI, TÜV, SecuredShop or one of the numerous other quality seals – the more, the better. For Austrian companies, the Austrian E-Commerce Trust Mark is a very attractive alternative. It is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Labour and the Ministry of Economics and enjoys a high level of trust among consumers.

However, one should not underestimate the effort and costs involved in obtaining such a service. For small e-commerce entrepreneurs, current costs are often too high.

For many customers, money-back guarantees offer a maximum security. If you are convinced of your product (which hopefully is the case), you can also increase confidence with a money-back guarantee in case of dissatisfaction. Experience has shown that this guarantee is rarely redeemed, but it increases the trust and thus the number of completed purchases signifcantly.

For customers, a money-back guarantee for orders that are delivered only after Christmas also sounds very attractive. But since not even shipping service providers can give fixed guarantees for it, it probably won’t be possible for you either. Rather, you can give recommendations for certain dates until which customers should have ordered products. But be careful here. Communicate absolutely clearly that these are “only” recommendations, so that there can’t be any misunderstandings. Instead of the money-back guarantee, you can, for example, offer an extended return period to enable customers to make an earlier purchase at the same risk.

7 ½. Think about your beloved ones

That might be the most important tip.In these stressful times family and friends of online shop owners often get a little too short. That’s why you shouldn’t forget to bring your own gifts. Thus nothing should prevent you from having an awesome Christmas Eve.

 

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Conclusion

During the Christmas season, many challenges, as well as opportunities, await e-commerce entrepreneurs. For many companies, the Christmas season determines whether the business year was a success or failure. In addition, the foundations for the months to come can already be laid at this time. With our tips nothing can stop you on your way to a positive result. By planning correctly you can exhaust your full potential, in order to boost your revenue successfully.

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