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16 tips for ecommerce holiday season success

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Oct. 3, 2013
Ecommerce and online marketing experts share their tips and strategies on how you can prepare your online business for the holiday rush and get holiday shoppers to buy from you.

"At two weeks out, begin to engage customers more aggressively with 50 percent off and free shipping deals," Jao says. "Save your best deals for the biggest shopping days (Cyber Monday, Super Saturday, etc.), and consider making them limited-time or limited-quantity offers to spur immediate action," he says. Just "one word of caution: avoid running crazy sales too far in advance because you'll risk cannibalizing your holiday season profits."

Also consider SMS marketing, especially if your target audience is mobile.

"Text message marketing can be a powerful weapon to reach shoppers as they visit your brick-and-mortar competitors," adds Barber. "Holiday shoppers are very active, jumping between multiple physical stores to find the right product and best deal," Barber says.

"Send text messages on holiday weekends with strong promotional offers and a link to purchase right away from an easy-to-use mobile website," he says. "There's no better way to reach your on-the-go holiday shoppers and compete with the brick-and-mortar stores," Barber says.

14. Run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns."Organic SEO takes months in advance to build, and promoting holiday SEO terms that far in advance will hurt your regular website traffic," argues Darin Colino, director of Web Development, CyberDesign International. "A PPC campaign is perfect for holiday season, because you can switch it on and off as needed and see almost instant results."

15. Incentivize customers to order early."Consider offering an incentive for early orders," says Jennifer Martin, principal consultant, Zest Business Consulting. "For example 'Buy your holiday gift purchase by November 30th and receive free shipping" or 'Purchase a $50.00 gift card for just $45.00 if you buy before December 15th.'"

16. Offer free or discounted shipping -- and provide shipment tracking. "A 2012 comScore study commissioned by UPS showed that 73 percent of shoppers expect free or discounted shipping, and 70 percent were willing to add more products to the cart to reach the free shipping minimum," says Zeena Bushnaq, managing director, Wazala, a hosted ecommerce solution. "So clearly stating your shipping costs and offering free shipping at an order minimum [or in general] will help you sell more."

And provide tracking.

"Being able to tell customers when and where their package will arrive is another incentive for them to do business with you," says Amine Khechfe, general manager and cofounder, Endicia, a provider of shipping solutions and postage.

"So explore shipping technologies that automatically generate an email with tracking details as soon as a package is sent," Khechfe says. "Providing notification of shipment and a link to the current delivery status results in fewer phone calls from customers wondering about the status of their shipment, allowing you to spend more of your time fulfilling orders."


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