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3 pointers to outperform come Christmas

Expert Advice
For Ecommerce Success
Our team of Ecommerce experts outline effective strategies for increasing and optimising your sales!
 
End of year online sales numbers rose to £ 12,8 billion last year, with some sources quoting an ever higher figure. From Black Friday onwards, Christmas sales tend to soar. Last year £850 million was generated on the 28th of November 2014, in part due to the adoption of the daily flash sales concept hailing from the US.

Getting things right in the fourth quarter is key to e-commerce success. So plan ahead for Christmas if you want to see your sales go through the roof. 'Innovation' is the secret to getting the most out of these key dates: Halloween, Black Friday, cyber Monday, and finally Christmas.

Your objectives: start preparing your e-boutique from November onwards, upgrade the purchasing process and sweeten customer experience to boost conversions. Spend time on the Actinic platform: select ideas, capitalise on the advice, and make the most of the tools it has to offer.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
1. £ 12,8 billion is the amount e-commerce businesses were predicted to make in the run-up to Christmas 2014, a figure up 13% from 2013.
2. Be ready to cater to the festive season from November onwards. Start by giving your e-commerce website a Christmas makeover.
3. Invest in customer experience. Set yourself apart by offering Advent calendars, or downloadable greeting cards.
4. Ensure customer loyalty by working within delivery deadlines, and offering on the ball customer service. Don't neglect your communication channels!
5. Optimise conversion numbers by installing abandoned basket reminders, and streamlining the order process to make the purchasing experience as fast and as pleasurable as possible.

3 pointers to outperform come Christmas

01 When should you start gearing your e-commerce site up for Christmas?
  • Inject the Christmas spirit into your e-boutique starting in November

Your e-boutique is your shop window. Bear in mind that 76 % of UK consumers have indicated that they intend to complete at least half of their Christmas shopping online, and 29 % have already started. Don't waste time!

> Get with the xmas spirit as early as November : think reds and greens, snowflakes, snowmen, Father Christmas, reindeer, mistletoe, shiny garlands. You get the idea!
> Consider harmonising action buttons with the new colours. Your site's banners and slideshows can be updated in order to achieve an optimal visual result. Don't forget that with Actinic you can design your optimal Christmas look in just a few clicks.

  • Launch offers to coincide with 'paper' catalogues

2014 was a groundbreaking year in terms of online Christmas shopping searches; 78 % of all shoppers used the internet to research gifts. Last year, September was consumers' favourite month to start the online hunt for Christmas present.
This is why large stores are starting to release the hardcopy version of their Christmas catalogues increasingly early. Shadow their moves!

> Launch your Christmas special edition catalogue in the first week of November
...and stay ahead of the competition. Consider asking e-visitors for their email addresses, in exchange for hardcopy versions of the catalogue. It is a great way of generating leads for future email campaigns.
> Create product associations to increase sales : “you chose product A, we think you might also be interested in B”. Actinic allows you to tadd product suggestions to your product profiles.
02 How can I boost customer experience in the run up to Christmas?
Consumers are happy to place additional orders on sites that have invested in customer experience (Temkin Group). Make the time spent surfing your site an enjoyable one. A pleasant experience will gain you non-negligible customer loyalty.
  • Suggest ideas for gifts

According to a Chartbeat study, 55% of readers spend less than 15 seconds on a page.
That's a tight window within which to create an impression.

> Create special-selection webpages. Some category examples include “gift ideas for men”, “gifts under £50”, “gifts for mothers”, “original gift ideas”, “under £30 gift baskets”, etc.
With Actinic, product-categories and dedicated pages are very easy to set up.
> Create filters which allow customers to save time and enjoy the purchasing process.

  • Surprise your customers with goodies

> Offer your clients free downloadable gifts
Greeting cards, 2016 calendars, Advent calendars, gift tags, Father Christmas masks.
Offering free downloads is an efficient method for boosting your appeal.
> Slip little surprises into your parcels: goodies, or DIYs reflecting the fact that you have thought personally about each one of your customers. Sweets or other marks of attention will increase the pleasure your customers derive from their purchases. Promoting brand loyalty from now on is a must.
> Consider sharing your marketing moves on your blogs, social media profiles, and newsletters.

  • Get customer service right

> Work on buyer satisfaction. Help them fill their stockings with a smile, and answer their questions. To get this right, telephone customer service is crucial. Your customer service has to be working optimally come Christmas time. Reinforce numbers if necessary.
> Invest in social networks, as they can play a tremendous role in enhancing the feeling of proximity, and your image as a responsive business. Don't hesitate to have another look at our 7 steps to a great customer service.

  • Work your delivery policy

According to a study released by Mac Afee, 64 % of online consumers feel that free delivery policies are the best way to convince them to make a buy.

> Offer fast delivery, or opt for free deliveries above a certain amount, or even upon completing the purchase within a certain time frame.
> Be transparent regarding delivery delays and returns. If you think the parcel will not arrive by the stated date and time, be upfront about it.
03 How to elicit more conversions as we near the end of 2015?
  • Create a sense of urgency

> Set up flash sales. A customer needs to feel he is getting a good deal before he makes the step from adding-to-basket to completing the purchase.
> Insert a countdown calendar on your welcome page.
A small amount of pressure exerted on those who have not yet found their christmas presents.
> Simplify the ordering process, and set up a fast-order mechanism, by limiting the number of registration fields to fill. Take advantage of the impulsive with a quick order functionality that provides for orders to be completed in just a few clicks. The simpler it is to buy, the more conversions you will secure.
> Target latecomers with virtual gift cards. Think of last minute sales. Even if the delivery deadlines have passed, you can still generate sales and customer satisfaction.

  • Capitalise on former customers

> Target buyers who made orders in the third quarter. September probably yielded an interesting database. Consider activating that knowledge, by directing Christmas offers to those who are already your clients.
> Get ahead by contacting potential buyers from November onwards, and keeping at it until the very last minute.

  • Charm reticent converts

Set up basket-reminders. A considerable online population visits your site, fills baskets, and compares prices before proceeding to purchase. Send them reminders, indicating that their baskets are still active, and that an exclusive Christmas promotion is on the table.
  • Be creative and test new levers of acquisition

> Reference your catalogue (or extracts of your catalogue) on online markets such as www.buyagift.co.uk. Consumers use these sites for inspiration, especially in the run up to Christmas. Actinic businesses generate, on average, 35% more sales revenue.
> Suggest PDF versions of your Christmas catalogue and attach an order slip. Free tools such as MadMagz or Calaméo can be of assistance. Consumers can browse your offers and even print them to send to Father Christmas. In addition to shaping up your catalogue, these tools allow you to quickly and easily create magazines, brochures and newsletters. Whatever you create is personalised and optimised for mobile appliances.
> Piggy-back inserts can broaden your consumer audience. Contact e-businesses you maintain relations with, or that offer products that complement your own, and suggest linking your commercial offers (think of using specific promotional codes so that you can track your performance).

Finally, from the beginning of January, get ahead by starting to send out newsletters promoting winter sales. Don't forget to proffer New Year greetings!