The first step to ensuring a successful holiday sales season is to optimize your eCommerce site. But the next step – converting those website visitors into customers – is equally important and can be even more difficult to achieve.
A recent survey about holiday shopping trends by PriceGrabber found that 88 percent of respondents plan to research their holiday gift purchases in advance to find the best deals. Of those respondents, 38 percent plan to spend three to six hours researching holiday gift purchases online.
That means that, even if a customer visits your website, chances are they’ve visited many others as well. After working with more than 10,000 small to medium-sized merchants over the years, I’ve put together the following list of best practice tips to help you turn your website visitors into customers.
It is important to design promotions that are consistent with and enhance the company’s brand’s image. Take time to review the success or failure of each promotion to determine the value and focus of future promotions.
Whether it’s free shipping, rewards programs, or special offers, sales incentives are necessary to compete.
Offer Free Shipping
Free shipping can be one of the best incentives offered by eCommerce retailers to increase online sales. The PriceGrabber survey found that 77 percent of respondents indicated that free shipping incentives will entice them to make purchases. A great first step in offering free shipping is joining the more than 1,000 merchants participating in Free Shipping Day 2012 , taking place December 17th.
Other incentive options include offering online coupons or partnering with a vendor to provide third-party authentication of your site. As a best practice, retailers drive the most sales with free shipping when they require a minimum purchase.
Prevent Shopping Cart Abandonment
Even after a potential customer has selected an item and added it to their shopping cart, that doesn’t mean the sale is complete. A 2010 report by Forrester Research that surveyed online customers found that 88 percent have abandoned their online shopping carts without completing a transaction.
Simple things like making your website less noisy or switching your shopping cart model can make a huge difference.
By designing targeted promotions, offering free shipping and taking proactive steps to prevent shopping cart abandonment, you can ensure that you turn your website visitors into buyers and are able to take full advantage of the holiday sales season.
Online Shoppers  Photo via Shutterstock