5 Tips for Boosting Online Holiday SalesDecember 3, 2012 By Dan Darnell
The days are getting darker and the countdown to Christmas has begun. For online retailers, that can only mean one thing: holiday shopping is heating up.
According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of U.S. consumers will shop online this holiday season, up nearly 50 percent from last year. With that increase, the industry's leading trade group projects total holiday sales to reach upwards of $96 billion. Depending on how prepared you are, this either represents a huge opportunity or the potential for millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Chances are that you've already been planning for the holiday surge for months, but if the holidays snuck up on you this year, here are five actionable tips you can leverage now to make sure you get a slice of the holiday shopping pie:
1. Make it relevant for gift shopping. Holiday shopping is usually about buying things for others. Yet research is reporting that many holiday shoppers buy for themselves as well. In either case, make sure your online strategies aren't completely dependent on prior session data or past purchases. Ideally, you want to provide product recommendations based on what your shoppers are looking for right now, not what they purchased on your site last week. For best results during the holidays, look for trends in the search terms visitors use, the links they click on and the products they engage with to learn what they're looking for at any particular moment. Then serve recommendations and offers that fit for that exact moment.
2. Highlight wish lists with sharing options. One of the most helpful ideas during the holiday season is the seldom-used wish list. During the rest of the year, the wish list may languish in an obscure location on your site. During the holidays, however, people need to communicate with gift buyers what they're interested in. Move your wish list to a prominent location on your site and tell people about it. Make sure sharing functions for Facebook, email and other channels are enabled. Consider offering discounts to people who buy off of wish lists.
3. Shape the dialog with buying guides. Create holiday buying guides with gift recommendations and promote them in blog posts, text messages, emails and on social posts. Use "buying guide" and popular product names in the title and metadata to maximize search engine optimization and to increase chances of getting coveted link love from Google Product Search.