“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop.” Gertrude Stein
As the major holiday season shopping bonanza approaches, many feel renewed relief that much of the frenzy will be reserved for their online e-commerce stores. They will feel secure in the knowledge that they won’t have to be staring down a stampede of shoppers ready to trample staff to get to those discounted items. It can all take place virtually – with no broken bones or wrestling matches over the last flat screen on sale.
However, it doesn’t mean that just because you have an online e-commerce store, offering discounted items for the holidays, that swarms of online shoppers will fill their shopping carts at your site. You’ve got to provide an extraordinary user experience for them to complete their purchases.
Competition is fierce for the holiday dollar spend. That’s why you have to have a website that has all the bells and whistles for visitors; otherwise, they are just going to click away.
Upping Your UX
“I approximated the Black Friday experience at home by hurling myself into a wall a number of times and then ordering online.” Kumail Nanjiani
The Thanksgiving weekend holiday online spends in 2016 was the highest in the history of US e-commerce. $1.93 billion was spent on Thanksgiving day, $3.34 Billion on Black Friday and 3.45 billion on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Digital Insights.
Businesses that take steps to prepare for this massive influx of spenders during these peak shopping days reap huge rewards. You don’t have to be a retail giant to get in on the action, or undergo an expensive e-commerce redesign.
The most important thing is to provide a superior user experience (UX) on your site. This requires intensive preparation. You cannot do business as usual on these surging sales days.
Holiday Season Shopper Stress
Whether shoppers are online taking advantage of great specials or whether they’re buying holiday season presents for family, and family, there can be a high level of anxiety attached to the process.
Today’s shoppers are pressed for time and spoiled for choice. They want to know that they are making the BEST possible purchase for their budget and don’t want to feel like they could have gotten a better deal elsewhere if they had just searched a little more.
Your e-commerce site has to lead the buyer through a sales journey that confirms every step of the way that you are a trustworthy company who is going to deliver on all promises.
Let’s take a look at some key elements you can embrace to ensure your website is ready to make the most of these high revenue yielding sales periods, and alleviate as much shopper stress as possible.
1. Highlight Your Trustworthiness.
How can a user be assured that they are going to get their purchase delivered on time, in perfect condition and be high quality? Simple –pepper your site with trust seals, reviews, and social proof.
Users want to see what other shoppers have experienced in purchasing from your e-commerce store. They want to see that you have a good reputation, that you’re known for superior customer service, that you have a history of kept promises and most importantly –a superior product. This way, they can be confident in purchasing from your site.
2. Offer Purchase Suggestions.
Many users leave their shopping list execution for the last possible moment. They procrastinate and know time is of the essence. They don’t have the hours to wade through too many options.
This could make them overwhelmed, and they could abandon their carts before checkout. Step in with suggestions for gifts based on what they are currently searching for on your site. You can also offer filters so they can get options for more specific products in line with their shopping lists.
3. Ensure Product Availability.
If you are offering a product, you must have availability. You will lose customers if they begin using the filters on your site to choose a pair of shoes, in red, in size seven only to find there is no availability of that color or size and they have to start all over again.
Don’t display what you can’t deliver. You know that you will be experiencing higher sales so make sure your supplier or your factory can provide what you are displaying. Once a customer has gone through the whole process of selecting their item, and it is no longer available, they will simply click away to another site.
There are many others out there. Why should they stick around with no guarantee that the same process won’t repeat itself with all items they end up selecting? You’ve lost their trust, and it might be hard to win it back.
4. Be Upfront About How You Compare to the Competition.
Users want to make sure they are getting the best deal out there. They want to pay the lowest possible price for the highest quality. Make it extremely clear on your site if you offer free shipping and why your item is potentially higher priced than the competition.
For example, your product is made with higher quality materials than the competitors cheaper version. Keep the user on the page by giving all of the relevant information, so they do not have to leave your site in search of answers or to compare prices.
5. Save Their Spot.
It is vital that your site automatically saves the place where the user was last searching on your site. They could have already spent a lot of time and effort browsing your products only to be unexpectedly called away.
When they return to your site later, they will greatly appreciate picking up where they left off. It will appear as if you were waiting patiently for their return. You can make this happen by using local storage features. Browsers can then store details about any user’s interaction on your e-commerce site without it having to be saved to a remote database.
You are also able to create a seamless experience for users by replacing the current history status. You can change the URL without needing to reload the entire page. It allows you to know exactly where the user was when they shared or saved a particular link.
6. Let Them List.
We love making lists. So offer your users the chance to make lists on your site. Give them an opportunity to create a list for the person they are trying to buy a present for or wish lists. A list feature helps a user keep their buying process in order, especially when it entails multiple purchases for different people. You are offering an organizational feature that helps turn down their high-stress levels at their point of purchase.
Assist users to fully utilize the list function by offering clear instructions on how to use it. You can expand on the benefits of using the list feature to never buy the same item twice. You can help customers avoid accidentally buying someone the same type of gift every single year. They will have a history of their purchases for different people. A detailed order history feature that could include the item purchased, the date of the sale and the person it was bought for can all be included for the user.
7. Offer A Personal Note Option.
Create a field where the user can add any additional notes about a past purchase. These could include reasons for a return of an item or details about whether the recipient of the gift liked it so much that it could be given again, etc.
8. Integrate Live Chat.
Customers want to have their questions answered right away. If you can solve their queries at any time, they won’t be forced to go elsewhere.
UX Basics Checklist
The above eight points constitute some of the more advanced UX features available, but it is also a good idea to ensure that some of the more obvious features are working correctly. You might want to go through this holiday season pre-prep checklist to make sure your e-commerce site is optimized for the influx of users. Can you answer the following questions in the affirmative?
- Have you already been running a digital marketing campaign to draw traffic to your e-commerce site ahead of the holiday season rush?
- Have you added tracking pixels to any Facebook Advertising or Google AdWords Campaigns so you can engage in retargeting?
- Have you been trumpeting the news of your sale items across the web?
- Is your current e-commerce site able to handle a substantial surge in new shoppers?
- Is your checkout process seamless without any surprise costs that surface only at the payment point?
- Is your site optimized for mobile?
- Have you used email marketing as a tool to bring awareness about your discounted items to your existing customers? Are you giving long-standing customers a sneak preview with additional benefits?
- Is your site’s load speed faster than 7 seconds? If not you can optimize your images, combine CSS files, delete any unnecessary images, etc., to speed things up.
- Have you chosen which of your products are going to be discounted and if you are going to waive shipping charges?
- Have you incorporated cross-sell and upsell opportunities?
- Are you discounting products by at least 20% to keep up with the competition?
- Are adding a countdown clock banner or other signals of urgency (“Only one left,” “Limited time only,” etc.) to your website to encourage the user to make the purchase?
- Have you indicated how users can find the significant discounts on your site? Have you provided them with a user-friendly “map” to find the “treasure” on your site?
- Do you have at least one “doorbuster” item? This is one item that is ridiculously discounted by 70 -80%. It is so irresistible that people flock to your store, and while they are there, they are going to continue shopping.
- Have you included this holiday season’s keywords to your product descriptions?
- Are you offering a range of payment options including methods like PayPal and Bitcoin?
- Have you set up ways to capture the data on your website so you can analyze what initiatives were successes that can be repeated, and what challenges can be eliminated in the next holiday sales cycle?
Is Your Website Ready to Receive?
You obviously want to jump on board this season’s shopping splurge, but it does require that you have a website that is optimized to offer users an excellent shopping experience. Your potential customers have already started researching online for their holiday purchases. The National Retail Federation reported that 40% of customers began this information gathering in October.
“There’s only one shopping day left ‘til tomorrow” –author unknown
If you feel there are some gaps in your e-commerce site’s potential legendary status –we can help you. We offer a fantastic project calculator so you can see what we offer and how much it will cost. Give us a call or contact us online so we can make sure you are holiday season ready.
This guest post was written by Jeff Gapinski, the Cofounder of Huemor. Huemor is a website design agency focused on adding value to B2C and B2B brands by combining unique storytelling, web development, and user experience design to create memorable digital products people love.