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Is Your ecommerce Store Optimised for Christmas?

04.12.2014

We are now in the Christmas period, which is the most important time in the ecommerce sales calendar. Most websites should now be experiencing a boost in traffic to their stores. It is essential to capitalise on this traffic increase, as for many web businesses the Christmas sales period reflects a large percentage of their annual turnover. Follow our tips below to maximise your chances of success.

Provide Alternative Methods of Ordering

Many website visitors in the Christmas period will not necessarily be frequent online customers, therefore having an alternative method of ordering such as telephone will be useful. They may just want to ask a few questions about the product that they are purchasing as a present or just feel more comfortable placing their order over the phone. If you have a call centre, make sure that your telephone number is clear in the page header.

Target High Traffic Countries

If you are a UK based store trading internationally, you may have a significant portion of customers coming from other countries. You need to give an assurance to all these customers that you can deliver the goods to their location on time.

A website localisation strategy is the best approach to give that assurance. You can use a function to detect your customer’s IP address to know where they are browsing from and display relevant currency, shipping information and even language. Magento has these functions built into the standard platform.
Use Google Analytics or Magento reports to Determine Popular Categories

You can determine popular categories by using Google analytics or Magento native reporting to see the most popular products and categories that are searched for by visitors. This information can then be used to build new categories and offers around the most popular searches.

Improve Your Site Search Functionality

Many website users will use the search functionality to find products. If your search is not up to scratch, you could lose valuable business. If you are using Magento, you should seriously consider using a third party search plugin such as Sphinx as it will significantly enhance the search results. Whatever method you use to improve your store search, make sure you consider the algorithm for misspelling, singular vs plurals word, etc.

The other common search feature that your store should have is keyword recommendation. It is similar to Google where you can get keyword recommendations as you type in your search query in the search box. With this feature, your customer will be able to find their wanted product faster and be encouraged to purchase it.

Test and see your existing website search yourself. If you are not satisfied, your customers won’t be either.

Improve Your Product Image Quality

Aside from a relevant video, the product images are the most important thing on the product page. Because the visitors do not have the opportunity to pick up the product and feel it for themselves you should have a good range of high quality images. This refers to both the sharpness and composition. Ensure you have a range of angles and applications if necessary. Also, make sure you have a good quality product zoom that works on mobile as well as desktop.

Add Video to Product Pages

Video is proven to help increase conversions as it provides even greater insight into the product that is being considered. If you are a fashion retailer, having a video of a model wearing your clothes demonstrates how they look much better than static images. If you sell toys or electrical gadgets, videos are a great way to demonstrate how they work. And if you are a skin care retailer, creating a video demonstrating how to apply the product provides assistance as to whether the product is right for the customer.

If you don’t have the time to create videos for all of your products, create a medley video of your best sellers and add it to your homepage.

Have Clear Delivery Information

This is important all year round and can have a big impact on conversions. Make sure that any delivery offers are clear and that there are visible links to pages with detailed delivery information. Be sure to include potential cost, time for delivery and last dates for Christmas delivery. If you can afford it, offer free delivery or free delivery over a certain spend. This has been shown to have a positive effect on conversions.

Get Customers to Leave Reviews

There are good reasons for this. From an SEO perspective, regular reviews mean regular update of fresh content and on-page activity. Google favours this and keeping a consistent flow of user generated content will improve your traffic and store value.

From customers’ perspective, reviews are beneficial to help them making purchase decision. The more reviews your ecommerce shop has, the more credible and shop worthy your shop will be in the eye of customers.

Setup an automated email to your customer after purchase with links to the review page or social media share to encourage them to leave their feedback for the purchased product.

Set up Persistent Shopping Basket

During Christmas period, people will go back and forth between different websites to find the best deal for them. Many will put some products to the shopping basket only to finish the checkout process much later.

Imagine if they finally go back to your site only to find their shopping basket empty. People might find it too much to start all over again. This is where persistent shopping basket steps in. Customers will find their chosen products remain in the basket until they choose to remove them. Make sure you set it up so that the product can stay as long as possible in the basket.

Alternatively, make sure you have a wish list feature to enable customers to build a shopping list of their desired items. Magento has all of these features as standard.

Allow Guest Checkout

It can be tempting to make “register as new user” the main option on your site. This can deter potential customers from making a purchase because they think that they will have to register first. You should anticipate many one-off purchases during Christmas and make it as easy as possible for your potential customers to complete the checkout process.

Magento has this feature built into the core functionality; this can have a massive effect on conversion rates. You can install a Magento extension that will enable customers to create an account with the click of a button once they have completed their transaction.

Activate a Remarketing Campaign

Remarketing is one of the features available in Google Adwords. This feature enables customised ads to be shown to customers that have visited your webpage but not completed a purchase when visiting other websites.

Remarketing is a low cost tool for reminding non-converting visitors about your site and products.
Speed Up Your Site

Enhance Your Website Speed

Website traffic levels during the Christmas period can increase massively which can put an extra strain on your website. If pages take a long time to load, you will risk a massive drop in conversions. In order to minimise these issues, try the following:

• Take advantage of browser caching
Browser caching will store some of the files required to load the webpage in user’s local computer enabling a quicker page load. This is a great situation for both the store owner and customers. Customers browsing the website will have a faster page load and at the same time, bandwidth and hosting cost for the site can be significantly reduced.

• Delay JavaScript parsing
By adding few lines of code in your JavaScript file, you can defer the parsing of unnecessary JavaScript until it is required to be activated, reducing the initial loading time for your web page.

• Image optimisation
Image download size can be reduced through simple change without jeopardising the quality but improving the speed.

• Use image sprites
Instead of using separate files to display several images, you can use CSS image sprites to use one file to display different images when you need it. Implementing this method will reduce website latency and reduce page load time.

• Use HTTP redirect sparingly
The more http redirects on your site, the more RTTs being processed thus increasing waiting time for your page visitors.

• Utilise file compression
Gzip or deflate algorithm can compress the data on your web server to reduce the size of data transferred over the network. This should not be a problem from users’ perspective since most modern browsers support data compression technology. Less data transferred means faster download time for your website visitors.

• Use JavaScript compressor
Applications like Minify JavaScript can remove unnecessary code from your JavaScript file and reduce its size. Furthermore, it helps remove unnecessary parsing by web browser’s JavaScript parser to speed up the page load.

Use our tips to have a very merry Christmas for your ecommerce business!

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