What Holiday Shoppers Expect From Your Online Store This Year

The holiday frenzy is here, and shoppers are already looking around for great deals from the brands they know and love. So, outside of sales and BOGO discounts, what are the things you need to do in crunch time to meet the expectations of your customers when they come to your website?

As a side note: you may be thinking…

“Most of our sales come from our brick and mortar stores. We don’t really need to be investing time and effort into web during this busy season.”

If that’s you, let me first say, I agree with you. In this important holiday season, you should not sacrifice the success you’ve had in-store in order to try and muster up more online sales. We understand how critical this time of year is.

But here is my one pushback to that line of thinking. It is well documented that even customers who end up purchasing in store begin their shopping process online. They want to compare pricing among multiple brands, research product specs, or learn more about what’s special about your products. They often discover you through social media, referrals, or advertising.

So this article should serve more as a guide on how to put your best foot forward in those initial shopping stages, so that more traffic comes into your store. It wouldn’t be so bad if it resulted in a few more online sales either, right?

Keep Items in Stock

Over the holidays, your customers are looking to make a purchase now, not later when you add more inventory. Additionally, they are very likely comparing your products with competitors. If they come to your site to find that a good chunk of your products are out of stock, you will be written off as not a good option.

Keep your inventory up, especially for those products that are often sought out by your customers.

Video Content

Video is one of the more powerful forms of content to build customer interest in your products. The reason for this being that, in broad strokes, we prefer video over other formats. It also adds more transparency around your business, as they get to see and hear the people representing your business. This often results in less hesitation in doing business with you.

Often times, the mention of creating video content gives the impression that you would need to spend a bunch of money to concept, shoot, and edit the content. This is true if you believe it’s necessary to produce at a high-level; however, consumers often respond better to video that is  presented as something more organic and genuine. The latter allows you to use tools already available to you, such as a good quality camera phone and free editing software like iMovie (mac) or Movie Creator (windows). Then there’s also Facebook Live or Instagram Stories that make it very easy to publish videos to your followers.

Here are some ideas on the types of video content that will get the attention of your audience:

  • How-to videos that share tips on how to use or care for your products
  • An “unboxing” or assembly of one of your products (think QVC, but less cheesy)
  • Customer testimonials

These are all straightforward to shoot and don’t require much in the way of scripting or heavy editing to make them work well.

Down with Shipping Costs

Let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s likely that your main competitor this holiday season is not the store down the street, but Amazon. And they guarantee free two-day shipping. Added shipping costs is one of the biggest reasons for people abandoning their carts online. It’s now an expectation for many industries.

Offering free shipping, even just during the holidays, may not be practical for you. That’s pretty common. In your situation, we recommend to:

  • Make it very clear that you offer free in-store pickup to local customers
  • Offer free shipping only during a short promotion window, like Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. This at least gives you a surge in online sales that you might otherwise not have without it.

Competitive Prices

The last item on our list is one of the most important for you to get right on your website. When you are considering the discounts or sales that you want to offer during the holidays, you need to make sure that the net prices (after the discount) are competitive with other businesses (local or not) that sell similar products to a similar market.

Again, a big reason that shoppers start out on your website is to compare products across multiple brands and marketplaces. You don’t want to come in a lot higher than competitors unless you have a convincing difference in quality or reputation.

Final Thoughts

You are no doubt slammed with the holiday rush starting up, but given the critical role your online store plays for both online and in-store sales, it is worth making the time to check these strategies off your list, even if it’s just one or two of them.

Need an extra hand during crunch time? Reach out here and let’s talk about how we can team up to get these done for you.

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