5 Best Practices to Help Retailers Optimize Holiday Shopping Experiences
Consumers are beginning to make their plans for the holiday season, and retailers are knee-deep in doing so. Online retailers, in particular, should be mobilizing now to ensure they capture the attention of consumers and win their business as we move into the most competitive and potentially lucrative time of the year. So, what can businesses do to boost conversions this time of year? Here are five best practices that have paid off for thousands of online retailers:
1. Start early. October is the month in which savvy shoppers begin comparing prices, products and customer services. Now is the time when businesses should ensure all product offers and supporting information such as customer reviews, images and content are updated and compelling. Today's customers are exploring their options. Whether they return on Black Friday or Cyber Monday depends in large part on what they see in early October.
2. Promote user reviews. When a business provides customers with an opportunity to give their feedback by reviewing products or customer service, visitors feel more engaged. Beyond the brand loyalty that they can inspire, customer reviews and online surveys give businesses the chance to follow up with visitors directly, fix any potential problems and win their business.
3. Respond to customer feedback quickly, particularly at this critical time in the retail calendar year. A delayed response to customer feedback can be exponentially detrimental. If a customer requests information, deliver it quickly. The time it takes for you to respond to customers could be the deciding factor on whether they choose to continue to shop with you.
4. Differentiate yourself with free shipping. Consumers love to receive items for free, so if it’s possible to offer free or flat-rate pricing for shipping during the holiday season, do it. This is one way online retailers can stay ahead of the competition and make their offerings more attractive.
5. Join the online conversation. Engage and listen to your customers online using various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Social media has given customers a voice. Retailers that fail to listen do so at their own peril. Conversations may be taking place about your brand that you're unaware of, so take advantage of social media networks to join those discussions. Be as engaged and aware as possible. One discussion on Twitter or Facebook could lead to a stronger customer relationship.
Consumers are cautiously opening their wallets again. But the true test still awaits. The time to strategize for the holiday shopping season is now, when there's still time to implement the kind of customer-facing technologies that can make the difference between browsers and buyers. For thousands of businesses, these practices can make a significant impact on holiday season success.
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