How to optimise your ecommerce website for Christmas



How to prepare an ecommerce store for the Festive Holiday Sales: Here's what retailers can expect from the Christmas Holidays, and what exactly is affecting consumer behaviour that ultimately influences shopping trends.

With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales out of the way, it's crucial to be prepared for another busy festive season despite retail analysts predicting that UK consumers will 'rein in the celebrations' due to the persistent cost-of-living crisis.

Reported by The Guardian, UK shoppers 'are expected to buy fewer and cheaper items this Christmas – especially online'.

While total spending will rise by 3.4% to almost £110bn in the final three months of 2023, shoppers will be looking for bargains and cutting back on the number of gifts they buy as inflation remains high at 9.3%.

GlobalData, Retail Analysis Report 2023., The Guardian

So, what does this mean for online retailers and Christmas sales?

Retailers need to make the shopping experience streamlined, flexible and include options that suit consumer needs in order to stay ahead of the competition and revel in festive sales cheer.

Follow these steps and start increasing your online Christmas sales.

Create a frictionless checkout journey

The modern consumer expects to get what they want easily and with little effort as possible. That requires their journey through the sales funnel to be as frictionless as possible.

Retailers need to ensure their website is able to not only meet, but exceed the grand expectations of the today's consumer.

Test your website speed

'Retailers need to have a fast ecommerce store. If a website takes more than 4 seconds to load a page, 1 in 4 shoppers will leave. If your webpages don't meet those standards, it will result in lost money and harm your brand's reputation.

Look at reducing cart abandonment by testing webpages, optimising through conversion strategies, and making the checkout process smooth.

Use online tools like Google's Pagespeed Insights, to test website loading times and analyse Core Web Vitals. Then optimise accordingly.

Optimise the checkout stage

As we've alluded to before, it's essential for ecommerce stores to provide a seamless checkout experience.

If an online shopper has reached your checkout page, the chances are they've committed to making a purchase. The checkout page's job is now to make sure the process is easy as possible, so the buyer doesn't leave before completing said purchase.

In the U.S, more than 20% of shoppers left their shopping carts because of a long and confusing checkout process.

Start with simplifying checkouts to one page. Putting all related forms on one page makes it easier and faster to use. This is especially beneficial for people who shop on mobile devices. A pleasurable user experience will result in customer satisfaction guaranteed.

Enabling an option for guest checkout will be important for first-time customers. During busy holidays, there is a lot of cybercrime. People are concerned about privacy and don't want to give personal information to every online they purchase from. It's important for online merchants to build trust with customers.

Registering can be slow, so many users prefer to check out as a guest for a faster purchase process. Guest checkouts are also convenient for shoppers looking to buy highly sought after items such as limited edition trainers, games consoles and children's toys where demand exceeds supply.

Providing several payment options like Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal and 'Buy Now, Pay Later' financing options with zero interest or fees such as Klarna will please mobile users in particular since digital wallets crave convenience.

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) is growing rapidly

This method has quickly become a staple of the modern checkout.

It's become widely adopted across ecommerce stores, not just for large items like furniture, but for smaller orders - especially apparel and smaller household items.

List of retailers that use Buy Now, Pay Later

Enable a BNPL payment method before the festive season hits.

Buy Online, Pick-up In store (BOPIS) is the new consumer trend

As Hybrid-Retail has evolved, BOPIS is the latest term for Click & Collect. If you're a retailer with both a brick & mortar store and an ecommerce store, then providing an order fulfilment option to buy online and pick-up in store is absolutely essential.

BOPIS is a convenient option for shoppers who prefer to browse online, and collect at their earliest convenience.

This can also help retailers meet delivery dates and remove shipping barriers, reducing pressure on them. Retailers also credit BOPIS with increasing their in store foot traffic.

It's time to get ship(ping)-shape

Allow shoppers to choose from a variety of shipping options. We know some consumers have different approaches when it comes to presents - either waiting until the last minute to place their orders or buying gifts months in advance. So retailers need to facilitate a variety of shipping options.

Ensuring multiple shipping methods in checkout can make the user's decision to purchase much easier.

Offering buyers shipping insurance can also inspire consumer confidence regarding their order(s). Take Route's package tracking software for example, they offer a connected suite of modern post-purchase solutions. Customers can easily add package protection against loss, theft and damage all from a single checkout page.

Enabling multi-recipient functionality on your checkout page can provide a welcome customer experience during a time-sensitive holiday season. Checkout features like this will allow customers to send specific items in their cart to specific addresses, in turn making your store a one-stop shop.

Stock 'til you drop

75% of UK retailers are 'expecting supply chain disruption in the lead up to Christmas to affect their holiday sales.'

In an article from The Grocer, it's reported 'three-quarters of UK retailers said they estimated revenue losses of between 5% and 30% during the all-important festive period due to a mix of supply chain and post-Brexit issues paired with reduced consumer spending.'

[Product shortages would be] “likely to impact consumer access to essential goods”, it was vital retailers found ways to prepare for the risks ahead and streamline supply chain processes while “ensuring they can keep prices down without compromising on revenue”.

Matthew Woodcock, Regional VP for Supply Chain Strategy, Coupa, The Grocer

If retailer's fears come true this year, then it's important to be prepared. Begin optimising inventories, localise your supply chain and try diversifying stock options that can help with Christmas sales preparations.

Having a well-resourced team in place in order to adapt to any emergencies is also key to proactive preparation.

Don't let free shipping methods cost you

Free shipping is a highly-valued aspect of purchasing online (I genuinely don't know anyone who's not a Prime member), and as tempting as it is to offer free shipping throughout the holiday season, retailers might want to thoroughly take stock of their, well, stock.

Identify where and when is the optimal time to offer free shipping. Adobe Research estimates that free shipping offers will peak on Black Friday, with the next lower peak in the days after Christmas.

They expect free shipping to increase earlier in the shopping season and after Christmas, when urgency is less important. Shipping costs are expected to peak on December 20-21.

Unite your storefronts with an Omnichannel Commerce Approach

If you have multiple stores, utilise all resources to establish a unified commerce model. This model should provide customers with a consistent and seamless experience as it would in store.

Consumers can shop anytime, anywhere using mobile devices across various markets and retail channels. Rather than manage separate systems, retailers should focus their efforts on a Omnichannel commerce system.

This will ensure that a retailer combines customers' payment process from various channels into one system.

Try consolidating the following retail outlets at your disposal:

  • Online Marketplaces: Sell your products on popular online marketplaces like Amazon, Google, Temu, and Etsy to expand your ecommerce retail presence.

  • Social Marketplaces: Update product catalog and tag your products to sell them in the MetaVerse - Facebook and Instagram. Engage consumer with product content across feeds, stories, reels and live-stream events to cover all content bases.

  • Brick & Mortar Shops: Online stores should align with your brand's success by combining digital and physical assets on a flexible foundation.

Mobile Sales Will Hit The Ceiling

According to Adobe Research, the transition to consumers using their smartphones to shop online has 'hit a plateau' in 2021.

They predict that our friends in the U.S. will spend more than $86B via their smartphones over the holiday, outgrowing the overall spend at +16.6% year-on-year.

The growth in smartphone revenue share is also predicted to be 'at a modest +5%'.

Share of smartphone ecommerce web visits stemming from social media has more than tripled in the past four years.

  • On smartphones, social media-driven traffic increased in share from 4% to 11% between 2016-2019.

  • Social visits don’t translate into purchases as easily as visits from other channels like email & search, but Social Markets have come on leaps and bounds in 2021.

  • 57% of consumers have received ideas for holiday purchases from social media (2020).

  • 20% of consumers have purchased a product based on an influencer's recommendation (2020).

At Sherwen Studios, we create advanced online shopping platforms and full digital experiences. These platforms help online businesses compete with stores and offer a smooth shopping experience for customers.

We can assist in writing marketing strategies for your seasonal promotions using content/ SEO, email marketing, and responsive web design.

Contact us for more information on how we can help your business grow sustainably and profitably.