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Ecommerce success at Christmas

Adele Button

The Christmas period is the busiest time of year for most ecommerce businesses, an opportunity to hit targets and achieve growth. This is the time of year when consumers naturally open up their wallets and are ready to spend.

Person shopping online

Online sales continue to grow year on year, and consumers continue to show preference for buying through this channel over fighting in stores. This was evidenced last year where UK online spending rose by 12% to £24bn over Christmas¹.

Some of you will be have been preparing for the high pressure Christmas shopping period all year, but if you haven’t yet finalised your plans, you need to act now to maximise the opportunity and avoid a last minute rush at this critical time of year. 

Here are our top tips for consideration to make sure you and your website are ready:

Research and review

It’s always a good idea to review last year to see what worked well and what you could improve. Review your Google Analytics or ask your agency to provide you with a report for last Christmas. The data will illustrate which products were in high demand and when traffic peaked. You can then make a more accurate plan around stock, promotions, and offers. 

If you haven’t yet, complete keyword research and create and optimise product pages and content to rank for the terms people will be searching for as the Christmas period approaches.

If you haven’t yet, complete keyword research and create and optimise product pages and content to rank for the terms people will be searching for as the Christmas period approaches. It takes time for content to get ranked and appear on search engines, so don’t leave this too late!

Checking out Google Trends may also help you to understand when people are searching for your products, enabling better preparation.  

User experience

First things first. You need to ensure the process of making a purchase from your online shop is as easy as it can be. Keeping the entire check out process simple will create a super smooth experience for your users and will reduce the number of bounces and abandoned carts.

Typical Christmas shoppers will not have the patience to deal with bugs or slow page speed. To help eliminate potential frustrations, it’s extremely important the purchase process is checked and refined. Make sure your site is optimised and can cope with the high volume of traffic it is likely to attract and that your hosting environment can cope with the extra visitors and transactions.

Slow page load times can also have a negative impact on your Google rankings which is another reason why you need to ensure your site’s performance is optimised.  
The whole process also needs to be checked on mobile. Mobile now accounts for 40% of all online retail sales² and this number is continuously rising. If you don’t have the mobile experience optimised you are missing a trick. 

Make it relevant 

You will know that providing and promoting the most relevant shopping experience for your users is the way forward. Personalisation, up to and beyond point of purchase can have significant results. Think about information that you can glean from your users to make their experience more relevant and tailored, such as where they came from, their location, and their behaviour on site. By using this information you can start to build a profile of your customers and then you can then start to use automated behaviour targeting.

This provides a more target-driven online shopping experience for your customers and more sales for you! Features such as ‘save for later’ or ‘add to wish list’ are great ways to collect information on your customers to enable personalisation. Plus these types of features are really useful for consumers as they start to build their Christmas shopping lists! 

Get festive with design and added functionality 

Many people find Christmas shopping quite stressful, so make sure your site makes the experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. 

You should be thinking about how you want change your website design and functionality for the Christmas period. The use of colour and Christmas sparkle is a great way to draw attention to particular promotions and offers. 

You may want to create specific pages that group all of your Christmas gifts and offers with added search or filtering functionality for example by gender, price, or family member. Many people find Christmas shopping quite stressful, so make sure your site makes the experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. 

The marketing plan

Don’t leave planning your promotions and campaigns too late - if you haven’t already, you need to work out your approach now, and get the content and assets ready in advance. Think about the trigger points for someone to engage with your brand and remember the way people shop is different now, they don’t want to be sold to, they want help to buy. 

Think about and plan:

  • Which offers and promotions you will run
  • How you communicate these
  • Will you offer upgraded delivery options?
  • What content do you need write and create?
  • Will you do any advertising, PPC or remarketing, for example? 

¹ - IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index

² - IMRG and Capgemini's Quarterly Benchmark 

Ridgeway has a wealth of experience in working with ecommerce and brand clients. Our team of 45 experienced digital professionals means we can offer you the right blend of skills to meet your needs.