Holiday Shopping In August? For Merchants, Now’s The Time To Prepare

Ahhh, August…just about the time to hang up the mistletoe and holly.

There’s no snow on the horizon yet, but ecommerce retailers are plotting and finalizing their holiday marketing strategies, advertisements and the look-and-feel of their websites for Q4.

A lot has changed since the economic dreariness 2008 or even 2009. Although current consumer spending growth is still only just crawling upward, shoppers will be opening their wallets a little wider than they were over the past several holiday seasons.

With the expectation that 2012 holiday will outpace that of 2011, here are some timely retail trends that you should keep in mind as you gear up your onsite efforts for the season.

Shoppers Socialize Online More Than Ever

With more than 900 million people on Facebook worldwide, there’s a high likelihood that many of your customers and potential customers spend a lot of time on the site.

Do you have an active Facebook presence? Are you creating an ongoing dialogue with your fan base on Facebook and are you offering them value? Value can take on many meanings – it could be exclusive discounts, promotions, exclusive content or access to insider information that is not shared anywhere else.

If not, it’s time to start thinking about leveraging Facebook as part of your holiday promotional and branding strategy. Some of our retailers have told us anecdotally that traffic to their sites from Facebook is up over 150% from last year and people are sharing Facebook brand content with their friends 700% more than last year.

And don’t forget the overnight image bookmarking-site sensation, Pinterest. The Adobe Digital Index Report from March 2012 found that Pinterest has become the No. 2 traffic source to retail sites in less than a year. Consider adding “Pin It” buttons to your product images to enable widespread social sharing of your inventory and grow your marketable universe.

Create great images that your customers will want to pin and share. You can even test different placements of these buttons and determine where they get clicked on the most.

Shoppers Are Increasingly Mobile

Optimizing ecommerce sites for smartphones has now become common practice, but don’t assume that you should stop there.

According to the Adobe Digital Marketing Index Report recapping the 2011 holiday season, tablet visitors spent more per purchase than visitors using smartphones or traditional desktops and laptops. They were also nearly three times more likely to convert.

This suggests that tablet shoppers are the most valuable shoppers online today, elevating a new sales channel that demands its own optimized experience. Tablet users are typically males between the ages of 18-34 with higher than average income levels, and their tablet usage rates tend to be higher over the weekend.

These visitors will benefit from a deeper, richer experience than you would display on a touchscreen smartphone where page real estate and a visitor’s time are likely more limited.

First Impressions Count

Close to 60% of retailers’ traffic does not come in at the homepage, however, visitors who do come in on the homepage still convert slightly more often and produce a higher average order value (AOV).

The takeaway here is two-fold – don’t let your guard down by honing in on one at the expense of the other. Retailers must continue to optimize their homepage for incoming traffic, and for specific audience segments, if possible. They must also pay close attention to the landing page experience from paid search or affiliate sites.

When visitors reach a landing page from a specific search keyword, are you repeating their initial search term so they know they’ve reached the right place? Are you displaying results related to that search?

A common pitfall occurs when a retailer directs all search visitors to a generic landing page. Online shoppers have short attention spans and want to find things quickly. If they searched on Google for “black patent heels,” your landing page messaging and results should reflect that search, instead sending them to a generic “women’s apparel and shoes” page.

Focus On The Weakest Link

Lastly, don’t lose sight of your goal to convert, convert, convert. Investing in acquisition and onsite optimization is critical, but so is careful analysis of shopper drop-out points on your site and how to triage the situation.

Many of our retailer customers report that the most common “leak” in their conversion funnels are their “add to cart” pages, with only 1 in 6 viewed products getting added to the cart.

The reason differs for each site, but deserves further investigation. Perhaps there is not enough detail on the product pages to entice a customer to add it to the cart, or the product viewer is not robust enough to allow them to zoom and see multiple views of the product. Or it could be as simple as the “add to cart” link being hard to find.

Perhaps for your site the most common “leak” is on the “payments” page of the shopping cart. Wherever it may be, find the leaks and plug up those holes by testing and refining your content or page flows to ensure shoppers get where they need to go.

Getting a head start on your ecommerce optimization initiatives will ensure that you are ready to provide a highly personalized experience to your shoppers, even if they choose to start their shopping sooner rather than later.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Retail | Features & Analysis


About The Author: is the Director of Conversion Product Marketing for the Adobe Digital Marketing Business Unit. Kevin leads the marketing efforts around solutions that help businesses optimize digital experiences for maximum customer engagement and conversion.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | LinkedIn

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    Thank you Kevin for this ‘reminder’. It all sounds obvious, but then you start thinking why do most online shoppers forget about something?

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