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November 5, 2021 by Aaron Shifer

Preparing Your Store For The Holidays, Part 1: The User Experience

Black Friday is just around the corner, and the winter shopping season is about to go into full swing. And if you’re running a Magento/Adobe Commerce store, you may be wondering how to prepare for the holidays, and make sure you maximize revenue, bring in more customers, and provide an excellent user experience. Primarily, there are two components that go into this.

The first is creating an amazing user experience and making sure that customers are able to easily find the right products, shop, check out, and even get help from customer service. 

The second component is ensuring that your infrastructure is up to snuff and that your website is ready to handle traffic surges, errors, and other problems that may crop up around the holidays. After all, an amazing UI and a great shopping experience is worthless if your customers can’t successfully check out, or if your website takes so long to load that they leave your website completely.

So in this two-part blog series, 121eCommerce will focus on each of these – starting with the user experience. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into how you can maximize conversions, bring in more customers, and outpace the competition. Then, in our second post, we’ll discuss the more technical details, and how you can prepare your store for an influx of holiday traffic. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Customer Acquisition

Let’s start with the most important part of getting holiday traffic at your store – driving customer acquisition. Here are a few tips that you can use not just to get more customers during the holidays, but also to keep them loyal and get them to come back after the holiday shopping season is over.

Review Your SEO rankings

An SEO review is always helpful before the holidays. This lets you see how well you’re ranking for your desired keywords, and where you can improve. You’ll also get valuable guidance if you plan on implementing PPC (Pay Per Click) ads on Google or other search engines during the holidays.

 

 

Implement A Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are a powerful way to build brand loyalty by offering rewards like points, cash back, exclusive coupons, free gifts, and other perks. They also let you collect more data on your customers. Customers who are part of a loyalty program are 62% more likely to spend more at your store, and are 59% more likely to choose your store over competitors.

Magento and Adobe Commerce have native support for loyalty programs, but there are plenty of other third-party plugins you can use to develop a loyalty program at your eCommerce store.

Spread The Word On Social Media

We highly recommend staying active on social media. Maybe you don’t have time to post things on your own. If that’s the case, you may be able to hire a part-time social media coordinator or find a contractor to handle it for you.

Posting announcements about sales, exclusive coupons codes, and other details will help you build buzz about your holiday sales. And if you can get customers to follow on social media, you can keep in touch with them all year round.

Get Signups For Your Newsletter

An active newsletter is one of the best ways to connect with new and existing customers alike. You can send targeted holiday deals and updates directly to your customers’ inboxes. One sure-fire way to get more signups is to offer a discount for new customers who join your newsletter, like 10% off or a free gift.

Check Site Performance

We won’t be getting into this too much in the first part of this blog series – but site performance is really important for customer acquisition, so it’s important to at least mention it. The faster your website loads, the more likely visitors are to convert and make a purchase. So make sure your site performance is meeting – or exceeding – your expectations.

Content And Merchandise Optimization

Next, let’s move into the steps that you can take to optimize your storefront and your website’s content, maximize conversion rates, and bring in more customers during the holidays.

Double-Check Your Store’s Mobile-Friendliness

Mobile eCommerce purchases are forecasted to hit $3.56 trillion in 2021, with a yearly increase of 29.8% since 2016. Magento and Adobe Commerce offer mobile-friendly themes and features, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check your store to make sure it functions perfectly on mobile.

Customers should be able to browse products, check out, contact support, find deals, and do everything they can on your desktop site – seamlessly, quickly, and with fast loading times. 

Another benefit of mobile-friendly design is that it can boost your mobile search rankings in Google and other search engines – which leads directly to more conversions and sales.

Find Your Top-Performing Landing Pages & Optimize Them

As part of your SEO review, you should determine which pages on your website get the most traffic. Then, make sure they’re optimized to maximize sales and conversion rates. This guide from Unbounce is an excellent resource.

Tools like Magento Page Builder are really useful here. This is a drag-and-drop interface that lets you add text, images, products, and other items to web pages without touching a single line of code.

Optimize Your Homepage For The Season

Don’t just look at your landing pages. Look at your homepage, too. If you have special sales, coupons, or other promotions for the holidays, put them front-and-center. You should also make it easy for users to find the products they want, as well as information about your store. A few suggestions include:

  • Featuring best-selling products and categories
  • Providing shipping and return information, including extended holiday returns, if applicable
  • Showing your accepted payment methods on your home page
  • Including prominent calls-to-action like “Shop Now,” or “Find A Store,” where applicable

Build Category-Specific Landing Pages

Category-specific landing pages are a great way to catch customers early in their buying journey. For example, if a customer wants to buy a baseball glove from your sporting goods store, you can make this easier by creating a landing page/category page for baseball gloves.

This could include an overview of baseball gloves, tips on choosing the right glove, a list of the baseball gloves you sell, and other helpful information. Not only can this help with SEO, but it provides shoppers with valuable guidance, and helps you position your brand as an authority.

Add Up-Sells, Cross-Sells, And Related Items

You can use Magento and Adobe Commerce to add up-sells, cross-sells, or related items to each product. This allows you to provide customers with alternatives to the items they’ve chosen, or to explore other options they may not otherwise have considered.

Checkout, Payment, And Shipping

The shopping experience is only halfway complete when your customers add an item to their cart. You need to make sure you optimize your shopping cart so that they don’t abandon their purchase. Here are a few things you may want to consider implementing during the checkout, payment, and shipping process.

Consider “Buy Now, Pay Later” Payment Options

Options like Klarna, Afterpay, and Affirm have become much more popular in recent years. They allow shoppers to stretch their purchases into biweekly or monthly installments, often with zero or little interest.

These providers do take a percentage of your sales, but the flexibility added by “buy now, pay later” services can be really valuable for customers – particularly if you sell really high-end or expensive products. Magento and Adobe Commerce support both Klarna and Afterpay, so it’s not too hard to add them to your website.

Be Transparent About Shipping Costs

As we’ve written in our guide about 5 eCommerce Shipping Best Practices, it’s important to make shipping costs obvious at checkout. Whether or not you offer free shipping, you want to be clear about how much shipping will cost. An estimate of when a customer’s order will arrive is good, too.

Magento offers integration with most major shipping carriers, which means you can set up automatic cost and delivery estimates. This means customers won’t be surprised by hidden fees or long shipment times.

Consider One-Page Checkout

About 18% of people abandon their carts because of a “too long/complicated checkout process.” A one-page checkout process can help simplify the checkout process for your customers, and is worth looking into if you’re noticing high abandonment rates.

One-page checkouts require customers to enter more information in a single page, but since it’s all laid out clearly in front of them, the process can still be less confusing overall. Magento supports one-page checkouts by default, which means it’s easy to implement and experiment with this feature at your store.

Allow Guest Checkout

We wrote about this extensively in the past. 24% of customers abandon a purchase if they’re required to make an account. Mandatory account creation could lose you about a quarter of your customers.

So make sure you enable guest checkout. You can still get the customer’s email to keep in touch, or even offer them the option to enter a password to create an account once they complete their purchase. This removes another source of friction in the checkout process, and can improve conversion rates.

Customer Service

In the last part of this guide, we’ll touch on some important customer service tips that we recommend you implement before the holiday shopping season goes into full swing.

Put Return And Shipping Policies Front And Center

No matter what your return and shipping policies are, make sure they’re front-and-center on your website’s homepage, and during the checkout process. 

For example, putting a banner on your storefront that says “30 Day Free Returns” and “Free Shipping Over $50” quickly allows customers to understand the basics of your shipping and return policies – and linking these banners to helpdesk or FAQ pages means they can get more information if they want it.

Emphasizing shipping and returns is particularly important during the holiday season. Customers need to know when their order will ship, and if it will arrive before the holidays. They also will want information about how to return their items, including extended holiday returns and gift returns, if applicable.

Revise Your Knowledge Base

Related to the above point, now is the time to take a look at your customer service knowledge base, FAQs, and other support documents to make sure they’re updated, accurate, and free of errors and contradictions. Mistakes in your FAQs or other customer service information can lead to frustration and confusion among shoppers. 

For example, if your website says you offer free 60-day extended holiday returns, but your knowledge base only mentions a standard 30-day return policy, customers may not know which page to believe.

Consider Chatbots

Chatbots are a great way to answer common customer questions, which frees up capacity for your customer service team – which is even more important during the busy holiday shopping season. They function sort of like an interactive FAQ page.

You can also set up your chat bots to connect customers directly to customer service representatives on request. This makes it really easy for customers to get in touch with your team. And since chatbots can be set up to function on any page of your store, help is never more than a single click away.

Think About How You Can Prepare Your Store For The Holidays

Thanks for reading. We hope these tips have been helpful, and that you’ve come up with some actionable steps you can take to prepare your store for the holidays and provide an exceptional user experience.

That’s not all, though. In the next part of this two-part series, we’ll get into some of the technical stuff, and talk about the steps you can take to improve and prepare your store’s infrastructure for the influx of holiday shoppers. 

So stay tuned! And if you want more tips about Magento, Adobe Commerce, and eCommerce in general, take a look at the 121eCommerce blog. It’s full of guides, tips, and advice that will help you boost sales and stay a step ahead of your competitors. 

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