Content Marketer at Sales & Orders.
When it comes to preparing your e-commerce store for the busiest shopping season of the year, it's never too early. And with e-commerce sales expected to rise by over 11% up to $206.88 billion this year, retailers should get ready to a steady influx of searchers and site visitors in the coming weeks and months.
With that in mind, there are steps that should be taken now so you can get a head start on the 2021 holiday shopping season. Planning ahead can, in many cases, be a make or break decision, as more consumers have already begun their holiday shopping.
According to a survey conducted in May by Microsoft, nearly 70% of respondents claimed they would begin crossing items off theirs list by the end of the Summer.
So how can you make this your best year yet? Let's dive into our top holiday season preparation tips for e-commerce retailers.
Go Omnichannel Or Go Home
Omnichannel marketing has become vital part of any successful e-commerce stores' strategy, especially during the hyper-busy holiday season.
The goal of omnichannel marketing is to deliver a frictionless customer experience across several different channels/platforms/devices as part of a singular line of focus, which is to be there whenever the customer is ready to complete their purchase.
This differs from a multi-channel strategy, in which the strategy changes with each different channel/touch point involved and usually won't have focus on device-level contacts.
A good example of a successful omnichannel plan would be a shopper finding your ad on Google Shopping, signing up for your newsletter, heading to Facebook where they are served your sale ad and then engaging with your customer support team via the Messenger app where they are guided to the product and end up making the purchase.
This exemplifies how you are able to keep contact with a customer throughout their individual buying process, and acting as a guide to help them complete their purchase.
During the busy holiday season when there are so many deals to be had, it's easy to be lost in the fray. Ensuring your brand is seen wherever the shoppers are and being available to them will help to make this your best Q4 ever.
Do The Heavy CRO Work Now
Conversion rate optimization is important at any time of the year, but is especially important when click volume is at its highest levels of the year.
There are several steps retailers can take now to review and improve their site conversion rate.
At the end of the day, the easier it is for a customer to browse the site and complete a purchase, the better your conversion rate will be.
Site experience should be the starting point for any CRO audit. This includes using tools like GTMetrix or Google's PageSpeed Insights to analyze your site performance and recommend optimizations that can help increase load times.
As part of a site-wide audit, retailers should also review product landing pages. Since many visitors will be coming from product ads, you want to ensure your layout is conducive to getting that product in the cart.
A/B testing is an invaluable practice in gaining data before this busy holiday season. Testing multiple layouts and utilizing real time insight to make this decision will help you to put out your best possible combination.
Optimize Your Product Data Feed For Success
Your product data feed contains all of the pertinent information that search engines use to present your ads in relevant search results.
Now is the time to get your data feed optimized, before search volumes reach their peak in the Q4 holiday rush.
Your main focus should be on fields in your feed where you can insert relevant search terms, such as your product title and description.
You'll want to include terms/phrases that shoppers would input in the search bar (or close variations thereof) to help get your products in those results.
In fact, a recent study from Search Engine Land revealed an 88% increase in click-through-rate with highly optimized titles with built-in terms.
The more you put yourself in your customers "shoes" the better your performance will be come crunch time.
The Sales & Orders Feed Optimization Tool makes it easier than ever to manage your catalog, no matter the size. By leveraging automation and a direct connection to your e-commerce store, retailers can optimize their product data feeds for success in one easy to use platform.
Buy Now, Pay Later Is Taking Off
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the everyday life of consumers all over the world, it's important for e-commerce retailers to adapt to this ever-changing landscape.
Offering a Buy Now, Pay Later option for purchases on your site can not only help your bottom line, but it can also help someone who may otherwise not have been able to make a purchase.
With over 55% of consumers saying they've used a BNPL solution such as PayPal or Affirm this year, this is a clear opportunity for e-commerce retailers to push their growth even further this holiday season.
Another important factoid uncovered in a recent study can further support the argument for adding this payment option to your e-commerce store. Over half of people who have yet to use a buy now, pay later payment option are planning on using it in 2021.
This represents a potentially massive increase in an already fast growing trend that shouldn't be ignored.
Get Your Shopping Campaigns Humming
As consumer demand increases into Q4 and more searches are conducted each day, it's vital that e-commerce retailers remain vigilant on a number of different aspects of their Shopping Campaigns, no matter the channel.
Monitor Your Daily Budget
More searches per day = more clicks per day. More clicks per day = more cost per day. It's a simple formula when you think of it, but often times daily budget will go overlooked.
You should check into your account on a daily or every other day basis during the busy holiday rush to make sure you have enough budget to maximize your exposure each day.
Being limited by budget means your products won't get impressions every time you're eligible. This will cost you sales. As they say, gotta be in it to win it.
Adjust Your Product Level Bids More Frequently
Another side effect of increased search volume is increased competition for those coveted top spots on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This will inevitably drive average CPCs up as more retailers are vying for the same positions.
The best way to remain relevant is to consistently monitor and adjust your product bids in your Shopping Campaigns.
Using tools, such as the Sales & Orders Shopping Campaign Manager, can help make this task easy. Not only can you make bulk changes to your bids, but you can filter down and get a true understanding of what products are working best for you vs. which products need some more love.
This can help you to create a strategy that maximizes your exposure on your most popular products and ultimately increase sales and your ROAS.
Campaign Strategies For Success
As your Shopping Campaign traffic increases, you'll notice some patterns emerging. You may want to consider strategizing how your bidding on your products with a number of different factors:
- Mobile vs. Desktop/Tablet: Since mobile devices are so widely used now, retailers may notice overspending on that device vs the others. Consider creating a separate Shopping campaign for each device platform and allocating budget accordingly to maximize on your opportunities for sales.
- Top Brands: It's natural that certain brands you carry may get more traffic than others. If you notice one or multiple brands eating most of your budget on a daily basis, try creating a campaign specific for it/them. This will help you to allocate additional budget to brands you know are going to do well, while also allowing other brands a chance to gain more traction.
- Top Products: Just like with brands, certain products may get more traffic than others during the holidays. Apply the same theory to products as brands and create a separate campaign highlighting those top products.
The holiday season is the busiest time of the year in e-commerce. With that, comes the opportunity to grow your sales exponentially.
To truly maximize potential, e-commerce retailers will need to take measures to prepare their stores for the influx of customers that comes with the increased seasonal demand.
The earlier these preparations begin, the more time there is to gather data and have your best foot forward when its your turn in the consumer spotlight.