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Santa Has Lists, You Have Data: Holiday Website Optimization to Get Your Site Right

By: Ted Rogers
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The 2022 holiday shopping season might seem like it’s a long way off. After all, schools just let out and summer fun is kicking into full gear. However, for ecommerce brands and other online retailers, the clock is ticking to get ready for the holiday rush.

In the second installment of our holiday readiness series, we’re talking data. Now is the time for brands to focus on their websites; not just because they drive business, but also because of how long it can take to implement much needed site improvements. By using in-house data to guide decision-making, business leaders can optimize their ecommerce sites to maximize opportunities this coming holiday season.

Learn from customer data

Customer data may be the most valuable resource an ecommerce brand owns. Collective knowledge contained within customer purchase history – including behavioral data, engagement metrics, voice of the customer research, and even simple contact information – can yield critical insights for effectively optimizing ecommerce sites.

Exploring and utilizing customer data can help brands:

  • Deliver more personalized customer experiences that reflect an understanding of their needs and preferences
  • Predict which products will be top sellers for better purchasing and inventory management
  • Create dynamic pricing strategies that increase profitability
  • Improve ad targeting and develop more effective promotions strategies
  • Predict peaks in site traffic for better IT management
  • Develop more intuitive chat bots and other customer service tools to strengthen customer loyalty

Analytics capabilities vary between companies, as do the types of data that will be most relevant to a particular brand. The key is to use the information already in-house to craft a tailored ecommerce experience that can meet customer demands and expectations. As a result, your brand will be able to connect with your customers on a more personal level and ultimately drive more sales.

Implementing ecommerce website optimizations

Once the data is thoroughly reviewed to better understand the limitations of current website iterations, improvements can start to be implemented. Here are just some of the areas ecommerce leaders may want to focus efforts to reduce cart abandonment and drive sales during the 2022 holiday shopping season:

  • Checkout processes – An intuitive checkout screen that limits the number of forms and makes it easy to proceed through the entirety of the purchase process is crucial for providing the best possible ecommerce experience. For returning customers, autofill of personal data or payment details can help increase conversion rates. Research shows 34% of shoppers would abandon their cart if the website required them to make an account, and nearly 20% have abandoned a purchase because the checkout process was too long. Offering guest checkout options and adding one-click purchasing functionality to product pages can help further eliminate friction in the buying process.
  • Local currencies – Studies show of all consumers would be hesitant to complete a purchase if pricing is not displayed in their local currency. Therefore it is important for ecommerce brands to offer pricing in the local currency of every market in which they operate.
  • Payment methods – Brands should strive to offer the preferred payment methods (credit cards, digital wallets, BNPL) for customers in any given market. How consumers prefer to pay varies between countries, and some payment providers dominate certain markets. Brands will need to conduct thorough market research to identify preferences and then reach out to target providers to ensure seamless integrations for ecommerce sites.
  • Taxes and duties – Consumers don’t like surprises when it comes to pricing and how much comes out of their pockets. It’s critical for brands to accurately calculate taxes and duties as a guaranteed landed cost for all products. This can be especially difficult when selling across borders. Brands may want to consider partnering with a firm that specializes in global tax nuances that can help implement updated functionality across all owned ecommerce sites.
  • Preferred shipping methods – Offering customers options for last-mile fulfillment can help reduce cart abandonment during the holiday season. Whether it’s buy-online-pick-up-in-store or shipping directly to a residence, brands should ensure they are prepared to deliver products in the way customers want to receive them. If shipping partners are experiencing challenges that could delay delivery, leaders need to make sure websites are updated with current shipping information to set clear expectations for customers.
  • Promotions – IT teams should coordinate with promotions managers and marketing personnel to ensure all promo codes and other offers are uploaded to the website correctly before the offers go live. Festive deals will always transform into a positive experience for customers looking for a bargain during the holiday rush.

Now is the time to act

Website optimizations can take more time than expected, as timeline overruns are common for web development projects. When preparing ecommerce sites for the holiday season, best practice is to implement a code freeze (meaning no further changes to the site can be made) at least a couple of weeks before traffic is expected to pick up. This allows IT teams enough time to work out any bugs and ensure site functionality to avoid any disastrous surprises on key shopping dates like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Given these constraints, it’s best to start optimizing ecommerce websites sooner rather than later, regardless of the scope of the project.

By starting the website optimization process now, brand leaders can ensure IT teams and other stakeholders have ample time to design, implement, review, and adjust any new website elements before the holiday season. With a little foresight and effective use of customer data, ecommerce leaders can put their site and their organization in the best position to succeed in the 2022 holiday shopping season.

Getting your ecommerce brand ready for the upcoming holiday season? Connect with Digital River to see how our innovative solutions can help your organization do record numbers this year.