By Patrick Schaudel, Head of Online Applications SME at IONOS
The Christmas countdown is on, and after a tricky trading year for all businesses, it’s vital SMEs maximise their e-commerce offerings to ensure a seamless shopping experience for customers. Here, Patrick Schaudel, Head of Online Applications SME at IONOS, highlights five festive fixes you should follow this holiday season to make sure your website performs at its best.
- Getting in the festive spirit
Making small tweaks to your website can easily help spread some festive cheer, and in turn encourage your website visitors to convert into customers. Simply adding Christmas effects to pictures, decorating your logo with a Christmas hat, or creating Christmas discount bundles can add some personality to your brand, and help existing and potential customers feel valued.
Customers want brands they can rely on, especially around the holiday period, and so it’s also vital you make delivery times clearly visible on your site, and as concrete as possible. Many shoppers will be purchasing presents, so make sure your estimates include buffer times for potential stock hold ups or delays, and guarantee delivery before Christmas Eve.
- Make your business visible online
We know that potential customers are often driven to e-shops through search engines, so it’s vital to ensure your website prioritises search engine optimisation. Ensure there’s a logical structure to your website, you have a clear navigation menu, there’s no broken pages or links, and your webpages feature sharp copy with your business’s key words. This will all help improve your Google rankings, and make your business more visible online.
In addition, if you have a physical store as well as an e-shop, make sure to update online business directories, such as Google My Business with your latest opening times – especially as retail hours have differed significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some hosting service providers also offer ‘Local Listing Services’ which can facilitate maintenance and synchronise content over all platforms too.
- Special offers for a special time of year
Look at which products from your product catalogue are suitable as gifts or for special Christmas bundles. In combination with discounts, they are especially attractive for last-minute buyers. If feasible, providing free delivery during certain purchase windows, discount codes on your social media profiles, or adding a free gift to orders are all simple and effective ways to convert website visitors into buyers.
A ‘bestsellers’ tactic is also a great way to showcase your must-buys. If your e-shop is new, base this on your most popular products in-store, or create a ‘must-see offers’ list instead. With the help of special e-commerce solutions, the products can be easily integrated into an existing website via plug-in or HTML code, without the need for a separate online store. This works with any content management system such as WordPress, Joomla! or Wix. If your store is already on Facebook or Instagram, you can also display and sell your bestsellers there, and add “shoppable tags” to them on Instagram.
- Keep your customers’ needs in mind
According to The Drum’s 2019 Ecommerce Year in Review, 63% of traffic to retailers and 53% of sales happen via mobile. That’s why it’s essential to optimise your site for mobile use – attracting your customers on the devices that they spend the most time.
Not only does mobile optimisation simplify operability, but it can also considerably reduce page loading times, improving the user experience. Linking your online shop to your social platforms and integrating with marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay or price comparison portals such as Google Shopping will help ensure no potential sales are lost.
During the Christmas selling period, make sure to frequently check your website and social platforms on a mobile device to ensure there’s no snags or mistakes, and get family and friends to help you out by doing the same.
- Virtual window shopping
Many consumers browse online for inspiration before making a purchase, and therefore providing supporting content that helps sell a product can be really important. For example, if you run a handicraft store, you can offer craft instructions or ‘how to’ videos online. This can help make the product come to life for a customer, and enables you to upsell other complimentary products at the same time. At this time of year, ensuring the images on your website really highlight the products, and even demonstrate them in action, can help potential buyers better visualise a gift, and in turn, make them more likely to purchase.
Following the above festive fixes can help your business attract and retain essential customers this holiday period, as well as adding personality to your online brand. Just make sure to remove any Christmas effects in the New Year, and ensure any discounts or bundles are financially feasible for your business. To find out more about how to improve your e-commerce website all year round, visit: https://www.ionos.co.uk/ecommerce-solutions/ecommerce-website-builder. Or to find out how IONOS is supporting SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit: https://www.ionos.co.uk/adapttoevolve