Preparing for Shopping Peaks: A Guide for Online Merchants

Preparing for Shopping Peaks: A Guide for Online Merchants
April 2, 2020 Laisa Lopes

On our previous article, we covered the main online shopping peaks across the world, from EOFY sales to Boxing Day. Even though the November/ December holiday period might hold the largest amount of shoppers, e-commerce sites also experience a boost in traffic during the other periods. It’ll be your retail strategy that will determine if you take advantage of them or not. 

In this article, we’ll go deeper into how you can prepare your online business for a high influx of shoppers. Take the time to go through these steps, this will ensure that your website, app and listings are ready. 

1. Fool-proof servers and a tech team ready for action

First things first, you need to make sure your website can handle a high volume of shoppers. Consumers are demanding a first class service, expecting “Ferrari Fast” online stores, and the numbers show it. Around 4 in 10 people leave a website if it takes more than a few seconds to load. 

So, talk to your teach teams prior to these peaks to make sure the servers are in good shape. Since these shopping peaks happen close to holiday seasons (think of Black Friday after Thanksgiving and Boxing day on December 26th!), make sure you have your tech guy on call. You don’t want to lose this opportunity to increase your sales because a server crashed.

2. Optimize the Checkout Process

The checkout page is one of the most critical pages on your e-commerce website. On average, 69 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned by shoppers. You want to reduce that abandonment rate on your e-commerce website as much as possible by optimizing the checkout process.

Here are some tips:

  • Lessen the number of clicks required 
  • Avoid redirecting your customers for payments
  • Use only one checkout page
  • Enable guest checkout so that people don’t have to register with your website to make a purchase
  • Provide more than one payment option
  • Make it as simple as possible for people to change what is in their carts
  • Ask customers to review and confirm their orders

3. Fine-Tune Product Names, Descriptions and Images

Your products should look as attractive as possible. Customers won’t be able to touch and feel them so they can only form an impression from product images. 

Use professional images that feature your products from all angles. Also, ensure that there is a zoom option so that customers can get a closer look.

Keywords play a critical role here, so make sure you use them well in your products’ name, description and images. Here, your ally to rank higher on search engine results is to optimize your website for search engine optimisation (SEO). 

If needed, so a benchmark on the keywords your audience uses to reach your audience. For that, you can use Analytics, Google Trends and a simple scour on search engines. Include the most relevant, highly searched keywords in your product’s names, description and in the alt text of your images. 

You shouldn’t overdo keyword use in your product descriptions. However, using them strategically can get more organic views for your products. 

There is no general consensus regarding the ideal length of a product description. It depends on the level of buyer awareness. Buyers who know the least will need more information while those who are already loyal customers may not need as much. 

4. Highlight Holiday Offers (Include Price Comparison Websites)

Remember that you’re trying to benefit from the online shopping peaks throughout the year. Customers won’t know that you have a golden opportunity waiting for them unless you tell them. 

You have a deal! Shout it loud and proud! Display it as a website banner. Promote it on social media. Include it in your posts on price comparison websites. Use as many tricks in the book as possible to make it known, particularly since competition is stiff. 

💡 Note to merchant: make sure you set up campaigns across these platforms,they will enable you to trace where your customers came from. This is invaluable insight which you can leverage to harness your marketing strategies.

5. Ensure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly

Approximately 80 percent of smartphone users have made an online purchase with their devices in the past 6 months. You’re missing out on some important sales if your website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing. Slow loading sites can frustrate a potential customer and form a negative impact on publishers. 

According to Think With Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. That’s because users expect the page to load fast! To be more specific, one out of two people expect a page to load in less than 2 seconds. Now, more than ever, is the time to get your website mobile friendly!

A mobile optimized website has the following features:

  • User-friendly
  • Easy to read
  • Allows secure mobile purchases
  • Limited multimedia
  • Good navigation
  • Fast page load speeds (ideally 3 seconds or less)

6. Prepare Your Customer Support Team

Predictions are that your e-commerce store will be flooded with above-average sales. But, more sales means more customer concerns. Is your support team equipped to handle the flood of support requests?

Statistics show that “one-third of consumers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service.”

Customers should be able to access your support team via more than one channel. Think social media, live online chats, phone calls, and emails.  Also, your team’s response team also needs to be quick. 

However, there’s no need to limit yourself to the traditional channels. Here, customer success management (CSM) tools are your allies. There are smart ways to manage all your relationships, and they come in the form of plugins, apps, call buttons, AI-enhanced platforms and others. There are a lot of options out there, make sure you do some research before deciding.

7. Delivery Price During Peaks – To Be Or Not to Be?

Shipping is one of the most significant expenses for an online retailer. Can your business afford to reduce or completely absorb each customer’s shipping costs during peak shopping periods? 

If it can, you’re ten steps ahead of the game and can entice more customers to purchase your products. Free shipping on orders over a specific dollar amount isn’t a bad deal. 

Some final thoughts…

Online shopping peaks are a great way for e-commerce retailers to increase visibility and revenues. If you plan well, you should be able to participate and take advantage in some of these peaks with a great performance. But don’t forget about the rest of the year, prepare ahead of time and build your audience all year long.