How Online Business Owners Should Prepare For Holiday Consumers

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Image by: Stephen Kelly
By Michael Sterling

This year is expected to be one of the most expensive holiday seasons ever with online retail sales predicted to reach over $61 billion for November and December, a 15.1% increase from last year.

Consumers went crazy on black Friday and as the weeks go by, it will only get more intense. It’s time you equip yourself with a strategy, one that will effectively benefit your business and customers alike.

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Twitter Is Your Best Friend

If you thought Twitter is a mega customer-attracter throughout the year, it’s nothing compared to the holidays. In a recent survey on Twitter, users were asked how they implemented the service towards their holiday shopping. Here are some of the results:

  • 64% said they have bought a product because of something they saw on Twitter.
  • 57% use Twitter to determine which stores to visit.
  • 55% said they would rather take Twitter shopping with them than their husband or wife.
  • 30% begin thinking and tweeting about holiday shopping before October.
  • 62% of shoppers Tweet about purchases they’ve made.

Now is the best time to step up your Twitter activity, if you haven’t done so already. When a consumer sends you a question, be sure to answer it! Leave no stone unturned. Sharing customer’s “@ mentions” and thanking them for it is a great way to gain more client loyalty. Make sure you check your “@ mentions” every couple hours just to be sure you haven’t missed any.

Be Aware Of The Browsers

According to Accenture, 65% of holiday consumers plan to browse online and then go into a store to buy. Today’s consumer is smart and is trying to budget their money as best as possible during this time of year. More and more of them are taking the time to do research before spending hundreds of dollars on their holiday shopping.

As a business owner, you need to make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for by sending either targeted promotions to their inbox or promoting your most popular items and services via social media. Reel them in and let them know you’re aware of what they want.

*Tip*: According to the survey, when asked “What type of holiday content are you most likely to share?” 67.2% said digital coupons, while 63.4% said a link to a holiday contest or giveaway. Consider it a helping hand for your customers to ease the stress of the holiday season. The investment will soon prove to be rewarding through word of mouth and client loyalty.

Mobilize

Consumers are getting a lot more comfortable with their smart phones, and according to Mobile Marketing Association, mobile is expected to have an impact on 87% of all holiday purchases. If you haven’t made sure everything is working and running smoothly before the holiday rush period, invest in a work-weekend to be certain.

Take steps to optimize and mobilize your website for the holiday season. A lot of retailers have found great success by creating special “gift” idea pages for holidays and special occasions which are already conceived by you with their best interests in mind. Take a look at how a business called Le Provence implemented this idea.

Recurring Customers Are The Key

In 2012, only one-fourth of consumers purchases gifts from a retailer they had never shopped with before. Most businesses spend too much time focusing on reaching new customers throughout the entire season, but it’s important never to forget the people who know you best – your loyal customers.

These customers are the ones who visit you year-round and will be your most valuable asset during the season not just because of their likely purchases, but also through recommendations to family and friends.

Shipping Can Be A Deal Breaker

Free shipping is the second most common reason why American consumers abandon purchases to find another online retailer, according to Forbes. The first is an item’s price.

It’s clear that most customers have come to expect free shipping, especially during the holidays and if it’s not offered, you risk them leaving the site. Don’t be a Scrooge. Let the next couple months be a free shipping time of year.

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