Retail has undergone a major transformation in 2020. As physical stores were forced to move online, consumers’ buying habits also changed exponentially. Thus, the growth in eCommerce accelerated quickly.
This increased the pressure on retailers to amp up their online marketing strategies and ensure it delivers to its peak performance, especially during high traffic seasons.
However, the focus has shifted from not only accelerating online sales but to building customer loyalty online. As consumers expect hassle-free, convenient shopping experiences. Delivering this seamless customer experience online also adds to successful sales and consistent growth.
So how can you ensure your online sales is optimised to meet those needs? What can you do to grow your market share and delight customers while preventing abandoned carts?
We’ll share our best tips for accelerating your eCommerce strategies to rise above the new normal that is upon us!
12 eCommerce strategies for peak season success:
1. Learn from last year
2. Personalise your shopping experience
3. Be proactive in your approach
4. Up-sell and cross-sell strategically
5. Gamify eCommerce seasonal promotions
6. Optimise your eCommerce offers with A/B testing
7. Stand out with interactive ads
8. Retarget and re-engage your customers
9. Provide sales-focused support
10. Automate FAQs with bots
11. Think mobile-first
12. Gather meaningful data
1. Learn from last year's eCommerce campaigns
In 2020, eCommerce sales accounted for 18% of all retail sales worldwide. By contrast, the global retail sales was 3%.
Online shopping has undoubtedly become a regular part of people's lives, especially in the past year due to Covid-19. The global e-commerce growth statistics show that e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to $4.28 trillion in 2020.
This clearly means that companies have made good business. So why not take advantage of last year's learnings and use it as the foundation of your peak sales season eCommerce strategy for 2021? Start by digging up your action plans made in the face of a global pandemic. This insight will give you a template for moving forward.
Gather data on best-sellers, sales times and performing campaigns. Use your data to segment customers based on their behaviour, and target them with relevant and timely offers. You could take a deeper look into last year’s...
Promotions: Which of your offers performed the best? Was it free shipping or a discount code? Compare offers and find out which promotions gave the best results and helped reach your campaign goals.
Channels: Which channels converted the most sales? Advertising is extremely competitive during holiday seasons, so make sure advertising costs aren’t eating up all your profit. Knowing which channel worked best last year will give you a guideline for budget allocation.
Devices: Consider what devices your customers used to make purchases. Where did the majority of your conversions come from - mobile, tablet or desktop?
Timing: The holiday calendar is full of important dates, so naturally offers run at different times, with varying durations. Black Friday discounts may be set for just one day, whereas your pre-Christmas promotions may go on for multiple weeks. The timing of offers will have an impact on your overall sales and even your website’s functionality making sure you avoid unwanted site crashes.
Customer service: Peak season calls for increased traffic which usually calls for a clogged up customer service. So when planning for new seasonal sales look into your purchasing journey. Where did your customers need help with on your site? At what points of the checkout process did your customers fall off their purchasing journey?
Digging into data will give your holiday season eCommerce campaigns the kick-start required for success, ensuring you achieve ROI and generate happy customers.
2. Personalise your online shopping experience
If we have to consider one aspect that is missing from online sales, it's often the personal experience.
80% of the customers now are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalised experiences.
Like in a store, where the sales person knows what a customer is looking at and how interested they are, brands should be capable of providing similar customised services online.
Combining data on visitor behaviour and marketing automation ensures that each visitor gets a unique experience that matches where they are in their purchasing journey. This can be done by offering your seasonal promotions, offers, and interactions according to:
- What page your visitor is on
- Where your visitors are on your page
- Where they came from - so their traffic source or campaign URL
- Which country they are from
- The number of times they have been on your website
- Their shopping basket value
To help you with this we have mapped out steps on how to interact and personalise the shopping experience using different content during different stages of the customer journey
At the beginning of the customer journey, visitors are usually researching or browsing and are more likely to leave without converting. And sometimes a visitor may come to your site, but they’re not sure what they are looking for. The best way to help them in this situation is to offer assistance.
Proactive live chat replicates the kind of experience you would offer in your brick-and-mortar store: A customer walks in and is immediately greeted by a shop assistant that helps them find what they’re looking for. You would never leave a customer wandering aimlessly in-store, so why would you online?
Triggering a chat with a proactive message not only improves your visitor’s experience, but gets you closer to closing the sale.
Now your visitor is moving from browsing to check-out. They’ve placed items in their basket but haven't completed their purchase yet, so cart abandonment is still on the cards.
50% of shoppers will abandon an online purchase during the checkout process due to extra fees or delivery charges. That’s why it’s important to be completely transparent about your site's checkout process.
Offering live chat during checkout with a personalised autosuggest message can provide a sense of security for those hesitant buyers. You can also use chat to remind customers to finish checking out, offer deals and discounts or help them navigate through the purchasing process.
Why not try triggering a live chat message with “Hi there! Need help checking out?” for people who have been on the checkout page over a certain amount of time. At giosg, we’ve seen this increase average basket value by 30%.
When the visitor officially turns into a customer, it's all about keeping them happy so that they keep coming back for more! Nurture customer loyalty and personalise their shopping experience post purchase by:
- Using your thank you page to reward customers by offering a discount for their next purchase.
- Providing value-added content that relates to the products they have just purchased. A guide or how-to video for using the product they have just purchased. Provide product recommendations that go along with their new purchase.
- Triggering a personalised chat welcome message or a product suggestion when they return to your website, such as “Welcome back! Have you seen our new product...”, can help you build the brand customer relationship.
3. Be proactive in your online store approach
Just like selling in-store, online customer service should also be proactive, not reactive. This can be achieved by targeting visitors based on their behaviour and actions on your website and accordingly approaching them relevant information.
With giosg’s targeting you can automatically approach customers with pop-ups and banners, personalised to their needs. You can use either rule-based workflows or AI targeting. AI can help convert website visitors by identifying shoppers, prioritising them and triggering custom actions to meet their specific requirements.
You can also bring the personal selling experience online with the use of voice and video chat, which is an exceptional tool in sales-oriented customer service.
For successful online sales, make sure to use real-time customer behavioural data to your best advantage. Just like in-store, where you can advise the customer or guide them to a specific direction, based on what they are buying. Online customer service must be equipped with such abilities too.
Insights about your customer’s shopping patterns, will enable the sales team to do up-selling and cross-selling efficiently.
Giosg enables you to provide similar online services with our shopping cart integration: Your sales people will see inside the visitor’s shopping cart while they’re chatting with them.
This enables the sales personnel to be proactive and address the concerns immediately, instead of routing the conversations to someone else in the team ensuring that the visitors don’t drop off the sales process while waiting for the service.
4. Up-sell and cross sell strategically
Shoppers with items in their baskets provide a real opportunity for cross-selling relevant products and up-selling a higher value product. Real-time visibility of a shopping cart combined with a record of a shopper’s previous history, creates multiple sales and marketing opportunities. Here are a few to take advantage of:
- Cross-Sell: When a shopper places an item in the basket, you can suggest a value pack of other relevant items that are often purchased along with it in a chat message.
- Up-Sell: When an item is placed into the basket, a pop-up suggesting a newer and better version of the item of a higher value can be suggested instead.
- Offers: When a shopper has a basket with a value of £60, for instance, remind them of discounts and offers available only if they increase the value of their basket to £75 or £100.
Automate this process as much as you can, to focus on high-value leads at the right time and effectively.
5. Gamify eCommerce seasonal promotions
Believe it or not, consumers today have a shorter attention span than goldfish, meaning brands have a mere 8 seconds to catch their interest. With such a limited amount of time, the pressure is on to prepare your peak season eCommerce strategy and create campaigns that really engage and convert into direct online sales.
Gamifying your online store and building interactive sales-focused campaigns around peak seasons can provide the kind of engagement you’re looking for. It increases the interactivity of your campaigns giving that extra push to speed up your sales cycle.
Creating interactive campaigns have the potential to increase conversion rates and drive weekly newsletter subscriptions by 4X. It works exceptionally well as a way to gather more data on your customers, allowing you to segment and personalise your offering further. A great tool for refining and building your database.
Get inspiration for your peak season campaign from these examples:
- Tap into Black Friday by gamifying your discounts. Create a quiz on your website, where visitors can play to win free shipping or an even better discount. Make the experience fun and personalised, while encouraging them to purchase.
- Publish an advent calendar for your Christmas campaign on your website. Provide a new promotion or discount code that can be claimed by a visitor only on that particular day. This can help drive traffic onto your website and promote your seasonal products!
- Use personality tests or quizzes to generate more newsletter subscribers, to build your mailing list. Quizzes work as data collection points to segment your customer base for personalisation.
Leverage the power of holiday marketing with a fun quiz that activates customers and allows you to promote your seasonal campaign and sell more. Find out how we used gamification in our Halloween marketing campaign to increase brand awareness and engagement on our website in this blog post.
70% of marketers not using interactive content are holding back due to a lack of technical expertise and not knowing where to start.
And understandably so, it can feel overwhelming if you don't have the right tools in place. Consider investing in a platform that lets you take matters into your own hands.
Using tools that require no coding, means you don’t need IT or a marketing agency in order to launch your new campaigns. This gives you flexibility to build your holiday campaigns, make changes on the fly and optimise them as you go along.
6. Optimise your eCommerce offers with A/B testing
Even with all of last year's data and learnings, you can't expect to hit the nail on the head. Sometimes the market changes (as we have all learned in 2020...), your business goals might evolve, and what worked previously simply might not be the best solution this year.
That’s why A/B testing is such an effective tool, helping you learn more about what resonates with your audience and drive better results. And it's not just for your email campaigns — it's also a great way to optimise the conversation rate of your interactions.
You can experiment with elements such as pop-ups, live chat, chatbots or even quizzes or games.
A/B testing is all about iterating changes that drive results and marketing ROI.
Get started with A/B testing interactions on your eCommerce website:
1. Define your goal:
First, start with the goal of your campaign - Are you promoting a specific seasonal product, aiming to increase order size, or growing your mailing list? Use this to determine the goal of your A/B test and as a guide for what you want to optimise.
2. Choose what to test:
Secondly, you need an idea of how to reach the desired goal. This is your A/B testing hypothesis. A/B tests are done by experimenting with one specific variable like your heading copy, banner visuals, or CTA placement. Why not try testing one of the following?
- Offer a free delivery pop-up vs without it
- Show a discount code in a pop-up vs in a proactive live chat message
- Provide live chat on your check-out page vs without it.
3. Traffic and timing:
Finally, for reliable results, you will need enough traffic on your site to split the traffic between the two alternatives. That’s why peak seasons are ideal times for A/B testing, with all that traffic you're already driving onto your eCommerce website!
Also, consider the running time of your test - it should really be as long as is needed to gather enough data for you to draw conclusions between variations. Once you have the data, make your changes accordingly and move on to test other elements!
7. Stand out with interactive ads
For retail businesses, peak sales seasons are one of the most competitive times of the year for advertising. Avoid banner blindness and cut through the noise by promoting your campaigns across paid channels with rich media interactive ads. Interactive ads allow brands to provide unique ad experiences that increase conversion rates.
They differ from static display ads by encouraging consumers to interact with ads, often including forms of media such as video, images, audio, or animation.
Interactive video ads can extend the number of time consumers spend with your brand’s ads by 47% more than static non-interactive ads
Interactive ads typically react to a user’s movements i.e. widening when a user scrolls down the page, playing a video when clicked on, or expanding as a user hovers over it. It's a powerful way for marketers to prolong the time consumers spend with their brand.
With giosg, designing and publishing interactive ads is easy as they work with advertising platforms such as Google Ads, Adform, Xandr (AppNexus).
The benefits of interactive ads for eCommerce:
- Improve your shopping experience: Unlike static ads, they don't force the visitor of a publisher’s website and hence don’t interrupt a visitor’s browsing experience
- Increase lead capture: Interactive ads will allow lead capture to take place outside of your eCommerce site with lead form extensions within the ad.
- Increase CTR: Rich media ads have been proven to deliver a high click-through-rate, outperforming banner ads by 267%.
8. Retarget and re-engage your eCommerce customers
We cannot stress enough how relevant the saying is - Out of sight, out of mind!
When it comes online sales, it is very important to gauge the customer’s attention in the early stages of the buyer’s journey. An easy way to do this is retargeting relevant content on your customer’s feed or search results, based on their previous actions on your website.
Retargeting is usually done with the help of specific URLs and in retail this enables you to track certain products or product categories. But what if you could do more?
Giosg helps you retarget audiences based on various interaction triggers.
Just remember to gamify and personalise the interactions at different touch-points first. This will help you get unique information about your visitors which can be used to further customise your retargeting ads.
For example, a visitor is shown a campaign pop-up quiz on your site, but before leaving their contact information they’ve abandoned your website — unconverted. Instead of losing the potential customer, you can use all the insight on the visitor to build a targeted and specific retargeting audience.
Retargeting helps to reach out to potential customers, who didn’t convert yet.
Who & How to retarget your eCommerce customers:
- Quizzes or surveys with lower engagement barriers compared to traditional fill out forms
- Visitor demographics
- Visitor interests based on their conversation path with your bots
- Visitors who chatted with you or clicked on a form
9. Provide sales-focused support online
With increased website traffic, support inquiries regarding your promotions, delivery times, and returns etc. are bound to go through the roof. Providing your customer service team with the right tools will ensure your site is ready for the sales season rush.
Your support channels are important touch-points throughout the customer purchasing journey. And as mentioned previously, they’re excellent opportunities to increase basket size, up-sell or cross-sell, and reduce shopping cart abandonment.
Take live chat for instance – when automated and targeted correctly, it not only provides customers with proactive real-time support but can help boost conversation rates and maximise online sales.
Power up your eCommerce customer service with these four tips:
1. Prepare saved replies to speed up customer service - You’re likely to get a lot of the same questions during peak sale times. Creating a list of saved replies speeds up response times and also keeps your brand communication consistent helping maintain your tone of voice and avoid things like typos! If you have an FAQ page, this can help form the basis of your saved replies.
2. Provide co-browsing for agent-customer collaboration - Co-browsing enables chat agents to support customers in a collaborative way when they need it the most. It allows your customer service team to view your visitor’s browser in real-time, helping them find information, fill out forms and complete their online purchases. This is a sure way to provide hands-on customer care in an online setting and reduce resolution times during your most hectic season.
3. Be strategic about your live chat placement - Not all shoppers are going to need assistance, and they certainly won't need it on every single page of your website. Don't waste your valuable time or resources on customers that don't necessarily require help. By setting manual rules or using AI to target your messages, you can provide support for the website visitors that need it.
4. Use chatbots to automate support - Using chatbots as your first line of support will increase your efficiency and ability to serve more customers with fewer resources. In fact, the best chatbots can handle up to 80% of all your customer interactions and will only transfer to a live agent when human assistance is absolutely necessary.
What's more, chatbots can also help to drive conversions by using targeted messaging i.e. providing relevant discount codes, promotions or product recommendations.
10. Automate eCommerce website FAQs with bots
Having an online store means sales 24/7. But your team can’t be there to answer customer queries around the clock.
That’s where a dedicated FAQ bot comes in handy — providing support outside of your working hours when your well-deserved customer service team is asleep.
Building an FAQ bot makes targeting visitors that require help possible and allows visitors to self-serve and find answers immediately.
On the other hand, during retail opening hours, FAQ bots free up your team's time and resources.
What to eCommerce FAQs to add to your bot:
- Delivery charges or times
- Payment methods
- Product availability
- Promotion running times
- Promotion terms and conditions
- Returns and refunds
FAQ bots educate novice shoppers about your checkout journey and reassure them that it’s safe and secure to make a purchase – in turn helping your online sales grow!
11. Think mobile-first
Over the past decade, mobile usage has grown significantly and the share of mobile commerce or “m-commerce” in all eCommerce is expected to rise to over 71% by the year 2021.
This can be accredited to the quick adoption of new smart devices and an ever-growing screen size that makes browsing and purchasing online easy.
Long gone are the days of just buying on desktop - many consumers now complete their entire customer journey via mobile. Even today, consumers who buy on the desktop will first research products on mobile.
Clearly, not optimising your eCommerce website for mobile can cost online retailers a loss of market share!
For your peak sales season eCommerce strategy, it’s worth thinking mobile-first not just in terms of marketing and sales, but customer service as well.
Mobile devices now account for over half of the time spent on the internet and a 53% share of all web traffic. That’s why it’s crucial to shaping your customer journey accordingly.
How to optimise your eCommerce strategy for mobile:
Create your own eCommerce mobile app
With increased mobile consumption, developing a mobile app is naturally the next step for eCommerce businesses - about 66% of consumers report using shopping apps on a monthly basis.
The benefit of apps lies in not only better engagement and interactivity, but an increase in conversion rates via push notifications. These enable you to push out new product releases and offers directly to your customer’s phone.
But if you're already on the e-commerce bandwagon, think about improving the user experience further - do you offer live chat in-app? Can customers make in-app purchases or is your app linked to your website?
Integrate instant messaging apps
89% of consumers use messaging apps each month. Offering support and even up-selling via messaging apps could be the best way to reach your target audience and grow revenue.
For a seamless experience and efficiency, make sure you’re able to integrate messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp into your existing platforms, before actually implementing more channels into your mix.
This way, customers get to use their preferred channel while your customer service agents are able to monitor and handle all customer interactions in one place.
Improve your Social media ads
Fun fact - 89% of consumers also report using social media apps each month! When creating your holiday campaigns, ensure that your media placement is optimised for mobile.
Also, when driving traffic from social media, don't neglect your campaign landing page. Optimise it for a mobile-friendly experience, when a visitor continues on your site after clicking on your ads.
Optimise your interactions
Finally, whether it’s your pop-ups, chatbots, banners, and live chat windows make sure that they don’t intrude on your visitor’s mobile experience. It’s simple but super important.
Sometimes certain interactions work better on desktop than mobile, so either create responsive interactions or consider creating different versions for each device.
12. Gather meaningful data
Data has become the new gold and is absolutely vital for eCommerce businesses to improve marketing ROI and determine the success of their peak sales season campaigns – we can’t stress this enough.
From analysing last year's successes and personalisation, to A/B testing and optimising your campaigns – data is the common denominator. But for it to have any kind of value, data should be examined throughout the entire lifecycle of your campaigns.
Thankfully today, data can be viewed in real-time in almost all analytics tools.
Real-time analytics offers online retailers actionable insights that provide accurate, timely and effective decision making. Leveraging real-time data will enable you to refine your eCommerce strategy and enhance your online sales efforts accordingly.
With the unprecedented start to 2020, potentially changing purchasing behaviour for good, data has become all the more valuable. As consumers develop their digital shopping habits, eTailers need to stay up-to-date about how this change is impacting their eCommerce business and the way their customers consume!
When deciding which metrics and data you want to follow, first start by considering your goals. Focus on the end goal and look into what metrics should be measured and which KPIs should be tracked. Think about the different data that influences and affects your goal both indirectly and directly.
Let’s take a sales-oriented live chat as an example.
If your goal is to increase conversions on your eCommerce website using live chat, there are some factors to keep in mind that can affect conversions.
What data to track on your eCommerce website:
- Traffic - your visitor amounts and visitor times
A good benchmark is that 0,5% of all website visitors chat or interact with you. Also, look at the timing of your traffic - when are your visitors visiting your pages?
- Autosuggest conversion
Different kinds of autosuggest have a significant effect on what kind of conversations you get - proactivity also increases the number of contacts.
Response timesHow quickly are you able to respond to your customers? Quick and efficient service helps improve your overall customer experience and reduce shopping cart abandonment - A happy customer is more likely to buy and up to 78% of customers will bail on a transaction after a poor customer experience.
Finally, even with all the data in the world if you can’t make sense of it, it’s essentially worthless.
That's where unified dashboards and data visualisation come in handy, by displaying your data in a simple and actionable way, it allows you to take out what is meaningful and useful to your business.
So throughout the highest sales period, make sure you have the right tools in place in order to be able to analyse your data.
Time to act
Over 60% of global consumers have changed their shopping behaviour since the start of the pandemic. With decades of development taking place in just a few days, the global situation continues to shift consumer behaviour in an unprecedented way.
During this short space of time, eCommerce has seen an increase in deliveries with an estimated 10 years of online deliveries in just 8 weeks.
As the holiday season approaches, we want to help you optimise your eCommerce website for the most hectic time of the year. We hope these tips give you new ideas on how to succeed in the new normal, tools to get ahead of your competitors, and actionable insights to increase your sales in 2021.
If you're interested in implementing any of the strategies mentioned in this guide, book a demo with us today!