Research shows that holiday spending is on the rise, and e-commerce is seeing its biggest year yet as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. Retailers are anticipating an increase of up to 5.2% over last year, and e-commerce businesses are benefiting from the trend. Buyers now embrace online shopping, and 74% of consumers are willing to buy from new retailers during the holidays.
The holiday season is a great time for your e-commerce business to attract new leads while satisfying the needs of your current customers. It also presents the online e-commerce retailer with an opportunity to provide consumers with seamless experiences as they move down the sales funnel from the intent phase to the purchasing phase with personalized and perfectly-timed offers.
Over the past several years, I've worked with a hundred thousand different e-commerce stores. I've witnessed the following five strategies help increase sales year after year, and they can be utilized by your e-commerce site too.
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1. You can expand your product depth with print on demand.
In every store we've studied and worked with, there comes a time when selling the same product type starts to have diminishing returns. Anytime your sales go down, the chances of growth become slim. Even the most engaged audience will reduce their purchases after they've bought a dozen T-shirts from you, even if the new design you've released is impressive. Introducing new product types helps reinvigorate your audience, and this is what print on demand offers your audience.
Whether you are looking to sell some merchandise, test a new product or sell something to a niche market, print on demand is the best way to do it. Unlike traditional print technology, print-on-demand technology has evolved to a point where there are hundreds of different products you can make with no upfront investment in inventory.
For your e-commerce business, you can use print on demand to expand the types of merchandise you offer, from clothing to key chains and mugs. You get maximum benefits with little risk to the business. The diversity of products you offer your customers will keep your current customers coming back, leading to increased loyalty. You will also increase your leads through marketing and brand ambassadorship stemming from your loyal customers. Customers love sharing great offers on their social media channels, and as a result, there will be a bigger chance of them bringing others to your store.
2. Personalized products are in high demand.
Personalization has become increasingly important as technology evolves. The consumer today is also empowered by technology and social networks. As a result, they dictate their needs and expect retailers to meet them. In fact, 63% of consumers see personalization as part of a standard service from businesses.
According to a Deloitte report, consumers are willing to pay a 20% premium for personalized products. They want unique products, and they want to be involved in the creation process. Another Deloitte study showed that in some categories, more than 50% of consumers were interested in customizable products. So instead of selling an item that one can compare to other brands or items, you can offer them something that's 100% unique to them, making it easier to sell.
Product personalization provides your customers with unique concepts and designs that give you a competitive edge. The customer can design their product online, giving them the freedom to give it a personal touch. One company that does this well is Nike, which allows its customers to personalize their shoes. When you give customers the opportunity to design their items, they spend more time on your site than they would if they were making an average sale. The customer is also more likely to buy a product they designed. Once customers receive their orders, they are likely to become loyal and trusted customers who become brand ambassadors for your business.
Offering to customize products to meet customers' preferences gives you access to their data. In fact, 83% of consumers are even willing to share their data to allow companies to offer them personalized experiences. With personalization, consumers get better value for their money and a sense of ownership. Today, mass personalization has been made possible at a lower cost due to the technology advancement in the manufacturing and distribution industry. An example of this is 3D printing, which has completely changed the game. Everything is now efficient, thanks to technology.
3. Post-purchase upsells and downsells are a must.
Advertising costs are one of the most substantial expenses from the stores we've studied. One of the best ways to improve your return on ad spend is to increase your average order value. Upselling works best after the customer has made a purchase. The idea is to showcase products that complement what the customer has already bought. The upsell also encourages customers to spend more money on your site by taking advantage of discounts and offers.
Trying to use upsells before a customer has committed to buy has unreliable results. You have not built up any trust with the customer and are already offering them more products to buy. They are unsure if they want to buy from you in general and now you are asking them to buy an additional product. However, with post-purchase upsells, the consumer has already decided to purchase from you; they trust your site and have provided you with payment information. Use upsells to make them feel special and comfortable, do not make it all about the money.
With upsells, you grow lasting relationships with your customers and increase your revenue. Our clients have seen as high as a 10% conversion rate from post-purchase upselling, and it should be a strategy you implement this holiday season.
Here are the keys to successful upselling:
- Suggest relevant products based on what the customer purchased.
- Offer products that will cost the customer only 25% more on their original purchase.
- Time the upsell right. You don't want to be pushy or miss the opportunity. Create trigger-based rules that show the customer the right message at the right time.
- Become selective about how you use upselling. Choose the right products for an upsell, and do not flood the customer with upsell products. Limit the opportunities to about 30% of your products.
In case your customer decides not to buy anymore, perhaps for budget issues, then you can always use downsells. Show them something else that's cheaper and better if possible. Keep them involved in the sales process. Even though the customer won't leave with what they had first intended, you will still make some money by selling them something. After that experience, there's a better chance that they will make a return visit.
The key is to pay close attention to customer behavior on your site. Look for incomplete purchases, abandoned shopping carts, close button clicks or incomplete purchases. Try to learn why they are performing these actions using surveys. For example, did the customer abandon the purchase due to the price, different interests or your offer being too complex? Trigger the behavior and offer downsells using email marketing, exit pop-ups or one-time offers.
With downsells, you need to be careful. They are difficult to implement, and the customer may be declining the original offer to get a cheaper offer later. You may also annoy them with the emails and pop-ups, leading them to view your business as desperate to make a sale.
According to a Gartner survey, companies will now be competing on a customer experience basis. As this competition for consumers increases, it becomes even harder for businesses to engage with their consumers. To increase sales during this holiday season, you need to offer your customers great experiences. Offer genuine interactions that meet the customer requirements and needs at every touchpoint. Invest in analytics to help you know what your customer wants and doesn't want. With this information, you can adapt the tactics mentioned above to respond according to your customer needs. You can then nurture your customers while growing their trust and loyalty.
Your customer is the most important person to you as a business owner. If you can develop and maintain a good relationship with them, you will attract more of them and they will become your brand ambassadors. With the strategies I have mentioned, selling a product or service on your site will no longer be as hard as it has been in the past. Using these strategies during this holiday season will boost your online store revenue and strengthen your relationship with your customers.
4. Take advantage of all major shopping holidays.
It can be highly beneficial for your business to take advantage of consumers’ willingness to spend money and seek out deals during every major shopping holiday, so be sure to offer deals for each one. The most popular shopping holidays in the United States all occur in the span of a month around the winter holidays and include:
- Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving)
- Small Business Saturday (Saturday after Thanksgiving)
- Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving)
- Cyber Week (week after Thanksgiving)
- Giving Tuesday (day after Cyber Monday)
- Green Monday (second Monday in December)
- Free Shipping Day (Dec. 14)
Be sure to feature promotions that highlight the purpose of each day, such as online-only deals for Cyber Monday or offering a portion of your proceeds to charity on Giving Tuesday. You can also offer promotions that encourage customers to shop safely online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Offer customer financing.
Over 69% of consumers are more likely to use online purchase financing during the holiday season, so offering this option to your customers is a great way to boost your online sales this year. Customer financing is where you set up a payment plan for your customers so they can pay for their purchases in installments, but receive their purchases right away. The customer pays interest on the financing and you, as the merchant, may have to pay a fee for each financed transaction. You will receive the full payment upfront, however, so you don’t lose out on any proceeds by offering this service.
Offering a financing option can make customers more likely to buy from you and make them feel better about spending more, since they are paying less money upfront.
Additional reporting by Kiely Kuligowski.