Five best practice tips to prepare for the holiday season

The end of November to the start of January represents a highly concentrated shopping period for online retailers.

These months are home to many sale events, including Click Frenzy, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day sales, and everything in between.

For retailers, this presents a unique opportunity to gain new customers, as many people venture outside their usual favourite stores in search of a good deal. Business leaders will understand that delivering hyper-personalisation is imperative in today’s climate and it begins with the moment consumers land on a website and begin looking for what they want.

To turn potential buyers into return customers, retailers must prioritise website functionality, ensuring it returns relevant search results, personalised recommendations, and shows real-time stock levels.

To secure return customers, here are the five key areas for retailers to focus on. 

1. Prepare for peak-hour traffic

Review your website, test its ability to deal with increased traffic, and make improvements where necessary. Look back at how many consumers visited your website during the same time last year and address any issues that occurred to ensure the same doesn’t happen again. While an outage that only lasts a matter of minutes might not seem like the most damaging issue, it has the potential to frustrate a shopper one too many times and turn them away from your store, permanently.

2. Analyse YoY performances

After any dramatic spike in online sales, retailers should analyse statistics from the previous year and monitor the overall performance. This includes; click-through rate (CTR), add-to-cart (ATC) percentage, product returns, bounce rates, conversions, traffic, page load speeds, and site downtime.

The best time to do this is in January when the holiday rush is wrapping up, allowing for a good flow of relevant data. This allows for ample time to assess the numbers, review your technology, and decide if a new strategy, supplier or update is needed before the next big rush.

3. ‘Tis the season to be jolly

Christmas is an exciting time of year for many, and consumers love a brand that celebrates with them. Get in on the excitement by updating your website and celebrating the festive season! Many retailers do this by offering a seasonal promotion; if you’re going to do the same, be sure to put it front and centre on your homepage so customers know it’s happening and can access it easily.

4. Stay on top of inventory

A great source of frustration for many consumers is getting excited about an item, only to be hit with the “no longer available” notification. Be sure to update your inventory in real-time to avoid this issue and an awkward conversation with the customer.

5. Hit the ground running and smash your first interaction with customers

Online shoppers are both smart and time-poor, and they’re the masters of multitasking! You can bet they’ve got several tabs open at different retailers, searching for the same item. With that in mind, ease of use is everything; customers don’t want to flick through multiple pages to find information. If what they’re looking for doesn’t appear on the first page of their search, then there is an issue with your search function.

Remember that your website is often the first interaction you’ll have with a customer – so make it count. Prove that your website is worthy of their time and money by making life easy for them.

Australia Post’s Inside Australian Online Shopping 2019 Report revealed that the two weeks prior to Christmas saw online purchases spike, making it the second largest week for online shopping in 2018. This was second to the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Any retailer with a website must be prepared, ensuring it delivers a positive online experience – may the odds be ever in your favour.

About Lucidworks

Lucidworks builds AI-powered search solutions for many of the world’s largest brands. Fusion, Lucidworks’ advanced development platform, provides the enterprise-grade capabilities needed to design, develop, and deploy intelligent search applications at any scale. Companies across all industries, from consumer retail and healthcare to insurance and financial services, rely on Lucidworks every day to power their consumer-facing and enterprise search apps.

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