Christmas can be one of the most profitable times of the year for any small ecommerce business or marketplace seller – but with the rewards come the logistical pressure. How can you make the most of the season of spending? How can you attract customers and prevent cart abandonments? And how will you manage the boom in orders? It’s never too early to start preparing, so here are our 6 top tips for what you can do now to ensure you’re ready for the rush.
1. Get personal
In a recent study, 71% of UK respondents said a personalised touch increases their brand loyalty (and 51% said they would leave a brand if they didn’t personalise the customer experience!). This seems to translate directly to spend too: companies report shoppers spending 41% more when engagement is personalised.1
Thankfully, small business owners will be happy to hear that personalisation doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise. It could be as simple as segmenting your data by previous order type, and once a month emailing out a curated list of similar recommended products to each segment.
2. Prepare your supply chain and logistics
Online shoppers expect quick and, particularly during the cost of living crisis, value-for-money deliveries. Displaying your delivery and returns prices and policies clearly on your website can help with sales conversion. If you give estimated delivery dates in your policy or email communications, remember that over Black Friday and Christmas you might need to extend them by a day or two as a buffer. You may also want to review your delivery and returns partner from last year and see how well they performed against your expected quality of service. It’s important to pick a carrier who can still uphold great service even during the festive rush.
3. Consider your marketing
Remember to remind people that you’re there! In the run up to Christmas, ramp up your social media activity (particularly on platforms like Instagram if yours is a visual product brand) and offer sales promotions via email. Focus on the points that make you unique: for example, your artisan crafts, local presence, or ability to customise products. Just remember to check with your website host that your site can handle the increased traffic, and that it won’t run too slowly, as this could cause people to bounce straight off.
4. Expand your payment options
Just over 1 in 10 of cart abandonments are because the site didn’t offer enough payment options.2 But this is a quick fix: you may want to consider enabling shoppers to pay with PayPal, eWallets like Apple Pay, or even buy-now-pay-later credit options like Klarna. Most of these integrations are very straightforward to implement on your website, but you may want to prioritise adding 1 or 2 new types if you’re tight on time.
5. Offer great customer service
Many sellers are now offering a live chat function on their website to provide an extra level of customer service. But if you haven’t got the staff or budget to implement this functionality, a simple FAQ page may help to give customers quick and easy answers. You could start by collating the questions you regularly receive via email or social media and providing responses to those.
If you have a web contact us form or enquiry email, you may want to set up an auto-reply that details your realistic average response time, to help manage customer expectations.
6. Get ready for returns
Some post-Christmas returns are inevitable, and in 2022 industry research showed that almost a third of online purchases are returned3… at significant cost to the retailer. But shoppers believe a seamless returns experience is simply part of today’s buying process – so much so that 59% of them would buy more based on good returns! (And 62% of them would stop buying from a brand after a poor returns experience…).4
What makes a ‘good experience’? Speedy and free or low-cost returns, quick refunds, and having the label provided. So make sure your returns policy is on your website, and you have a logistics partner who can help you offer low-cost returns with a quick turnaround.
This Christmas, small ecommerce businesses can reap huge rewards from festive orders with just a few changes. Offer quick and affordable deliveries and returns; add that personal touch; and increase customer payment options – and you’ll see gifts flying off your virtual shelves.
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