In 2016, the number of online shoppers surpassed in-store shoppers. Brands must prepare their websites to handle increased traffic if they want to maintain a strong user experience. This year, give your customers a seamless Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping experience by starting early on website maintenance, updates, and user analysis. Prepare for holiday success by avoiding these holiday mistakes.
Preparing Too Late
Maximize your holiday return on investment by being prepared. Holiday themed elements are like Christmas decorations. They make everything cheerful and festive to uplift the mood and encourage customers to browse. Start planning early to take full advantage of holiday cheer.
Use Fourth of July sales to predict how your website will function in November and December. Holiday shoppers expect every page of your website to load in seconds both on desktop and mobile devices, so slow-loading pages will cost sales. Test performance to isolate elements that affect loading speed. If you find applications that struggle to keep up with increased traffic, you have time before the holidays to take corrective action.
Evaluate your website’s infrastructure through the end of summer and beginning of fall. Load tests can indicate whether July changes are effective. Assess performance and perform routine maintenance to prepare for the traffic spikes ahead. Install new features or services so you have plenty of time to make changes.
Review last year’s traffic and purchasing data, both to look for problems with website function and to predict merchandise trends. Focus on areas where you saw users abandon their search or leave items in carts.
Did poor navigation make it hard for them to find what they wanted? If they compared similar products but didn’t make a purchase, your offers might not be as appealing as ones made by your competitors. If customers left just before checkout, the process might have been convoluted or taken too long to process. Once you’ve isolated problems from last year’s shopping, you can plan to correct them for improved success.
Making the Wrong Changes
For many ecommerce businesses, if they don’t make the bulk of their sales during the holidays, they will not be able to make up the difference the rest of the year. Merchants are so eager to show customers every option and convince them to buy, they neglect design best practices that improve conversions. Effective site design welcomes users with a pleasant experience. It doesn’t overwhelm or scare them away.
Avoid visual elements that cause confusion. Instead, provide intuitive navigation that facilitates browsing. Instead of spreading navigation links around your site, group elements in a central spot, where users don’t have to search for them.
Use white space to highlight your best deals and huge markdowns. Make sure you don’t hide your content behind pop-up ads.
Red is a festive holiday color, full of energy and urgency. Don’t just use it for seasonal touches. Add it to your call to action and checkout button to grab attention and motivate a response.
Video content can increase conversions by up to 85 percent. Sometimes a paragraph is too long to read, and an image isn’t compelling enough. Use video to demonstrate products, provide in-app onboarding, convert through your landing page, or appeal to emotions. Apple used Stevie Wonder in its video to evoke feelings of nostalgia and holiday cheer.
Most shoppers feel annoyed when video intrudes on their browsing experience, so allow users to decide whether they want to hit play. Be selective in what other animations you use. If everything flashes, tilts, and sparkles, it interferes with what you want to convey.
Make web content useful, simple, and clear. Avoid long product descriptions and instead give a brief overview with a link to more information and reviews if the user wants to find out more. Eliminate every element that distracts from a user experience filled with holiday shopping bliss.
Making Big Website Changes Late Fall
November isn’t the time to redesign your website. Avoid making any infrastructure changes after mid-fall. If users are familiar with your page’s layout and flow, postpone coding updates, new features, and domain-name changes until after the holidays.
Not Preparing Your App for Holiday Traffic
Holiday traffic doesn’t just spike because of shopping. As gift recipients unwrap new tablets and cell phones, downloads increase, as does in-app spending. Before the holidays, app developers should incorporate holiday icons into app creatives and incorporate keywords and descriptions to make them easy to find during holiday searches.
Make sure on-page elements such as app title and description offer maximum visibility in the app store. Maximize App Store Optimization (ASO) in these ways:
- Tweak keywords and app title – ASO uses two- or three-word phrases instead of long-tail search queries. Research what’s trending and use app store intelligence platforms to understand what you should select for your target audience.
- Recalibrate app description – Once users find your app, its description should quickly explain unique features and any holiday promotions you offer.
- Evaluate creatives – Customers form their first impressions in seconds, so your screenshot or video will either entice or alienate.
Time marketing to be ready before the first week of December. Apple’s App store experiences freezes toward the end of the month, typically between December 21 and January 2. Google takes time to index and rank apps, so if you update for the holidays, allow time for changes to take effect.
Complicating Checkout Processes
Shoppers are even more busy during the holidays. They have plenty of choices, and even if they’ve added items to their cart in your online store, they might not be committed to making a purchase. If you normally require shoppers to complete several steps at checkout, reduce them to what is necessary.
Allow customers to check out as guests if they don’t want to fill out registration forms. If you need them to agree to statements or policies, put them all on one page and make it obvious where they need to check or approve.
Making Murky Shipping and Return Policies
Online shoppers can’t see, touch, or try on an item before they buy it. Sales, positive reviews, and high-quality images tempt them, but no matter what the incentives, they know the product might not arrive looking like what they hoped. Consider the statistics involving returns.
- One third of online transactions result in returns.
- Retailers are at fault in 65 percent of the cases. Either they shipped the wrong item, the product appeared different in photos, or it arrived damaged.
- 63 percent of shoppers read return policies before they complete a sale.
- 81 percent of consumers want hassle-free, no-cost return shipping.
Where store shoppers take several similar items to the dressing room to evaluate, online shoppers often order more than one variation with the intention of returning what they don’t want. Even if they’re reasonably sure they’ll like what they order and are ready to commit, they want the security of knowing they can change their mind without paying a penalty. Make sure your shipping and return policies are easy to find and to understand.
Make it simple for users to find everything on their wish lists. Plan for your selling season now to make this year your most successful holiday yet.