Many experts are predicting a late holiday rush, even for online retailers. Marketers can expect consumers to spend their time researching and shopping around for the best deals, holding off until the last minute to make a purchase, advised Lauren Freedman, president of the E-tailing group, Chicago.
Given consumers’ reluctance to spend, it’s more important than ever that retailers create engaging, imaginative and effective online merchandising strategies that capture attention. Here are tips from Freedman—with examples from the best of last year’s sites—of how retailers can help boost holiday conversion rates.
Tout the favorites: Williams-Sonoma had great success with its gift page in 2008 by showcasing the site’s top 20 purchased products. The company also set aside prime Web real estate to bring attention to its top-rated items section. Since shoppers are interested in what others are buying, providing this information could effectively influence their purchasing decisions.
Boost confidence: L.L. Bean knows that extra reassurance can help combat consumer fear, especially during tough economic times. The Freeport, Maine-based retailer wanted shoppers to feel secure about their purchase decisions and proudly displayed its “Guaranteed. You Have Our Word.” tag in front of as many consumer eyes as possible. The prominent link, which still remains next to the company’s logo on the home page, brings shoppers to this page. “It’s a great way to build trust with shoppers, and makes them feel confident they are getting high-quality products with high-quality service,” Freedman said.
Encourage impulse buys: “Get creative in the offers that focus on customers buying now,” Freedman said. Online retailer Shop.com, for example, created a “12 Days of Holiday Deals” promotion last year that offered an exclusive deal each day. The strategy gave customers an extra incentive to revisit the site and take advantage of the clever limited-time promotion series, which ranged in offerings from “$20 off purchases of $100 or more” to free customization on youth/kids jerseys. Whether it’s through lunch-hour specials, an online outlet/clearance gift area or “buy more, save more” incentives, retailers should embrace creative tactics to get customers to take the purchase plunge, while keeping them coming back for more.
Play up all channels: Retailers can help close the gap for multichannel shoppers in various ways this holiday season. When confronted with out-of-stocks at a store, use signage to encourage them to order items online. Many retailers allow these items to be shipped to the store for free, but Staples made this clear at store level last year. The option to buy online and pick up later is also becoming popular among online shoppers looking to avoid pricey shipping costs. Retailers can play up all channels in other ways, too. This can range from having a newspaper circular available for download online, highlighting product locators on the Web and providing coupons via e-blasts that can be used online or in stores.