‘Tis the Season: Getting Your eCommerce Site Ready For Christmas

By Bethany Llewellyn • Last updated: Thursday Apr 25th, 2024

Computer screen with a box next to it

It’s the season of sales, which means more profitable traffic for your business to capitalise on.

eCommerce has had an unpredictable year, from economic concerns to supply chain issues, meaning it’s crucial to keep your website up to date to take advantage of the surge in seasonal shoppers.

Optimising your site by creating a personalised customer experience or upgrading to a speedy site search is the first step to setting your eCommerce store up for success this season.

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The importance of your Christmas shoppers

Christmas is the busiest period of the year for many online shops and in recent years consumer behaviour has shifted to see customers now shopping for Christmas gifts earlier than ever.

Salesfire’s eCommerce data platform, Trends, has highlighted these buying patterns across various industries, including in the behaviour of consumers last Black Friday.

Ahmed Chopdat, Commercial Director at Circus PPC, gave us some insight into this shift in consumer trends:

“Black Friday is always a key date for those looking to start their Christmas shopping, and the retailers that build up anticipation through marketing beforehand will likely fare better when it does come to these key dates.”1

The festive season presents the perfect opportunity to attract new customers, with retailers acquiring up to 59% more customers throughout the festive season.2 This is due to the vast amount of consumers who head online specifically to scout for festive deals and promotions.

From last-minute shoppers to customers who start shopping early, each visitor is valuable to your business. And with the rising cost of customer acquisition, you need to make the most of this influx of shoppers.

The economic climate facing eCommerce this Q4

Despite concerns about the cost of living crisis and supply chain demands in the eCommerce world, online retailers are still optimistic about the future of the industry and are opting for reactive strategies that respond to consumer behaviour.

Research shows that the top concern for online shoppers is the cost of living crisis, with 36% of consumer complaints focused on the cost of items.3

Ahmed from Circus PPC brought to light some of the problems many retailers may face this festive holiday:

“Some of the issues that we’ve seen retailers fall victim to at this key time include running out of stock, which can be due to a lack of prior research into trends and potential demand for key products.

“It sounds obvious, but being thorough is one of the most important things you can do to avoid small, unnecessary mistakes such as incorrect product prices and unclear shipping times – both of which should be clearly defined and accessible to those visiting your website. If not, this could lead to far fewer conversions than expected due to incorrect pricing details as well as confusion or complaints from customers who haven’t been correctly informed of shipping times.”4

This highlights the importance of monitoring and informing your strategy based on the current climate and economic issues we’re facing.

This environment undoubtedly brings uncertainty to the industry, but there are ways you can ensure your Christmas eCommerce strategy is all set, such as:

  • Researching and analysing industry data using Trends
  • Launching ads and marketing campaigns sooner
  • Monitoring stock levels to prepare for an influx in orders
  • Identifying and addressing website pain points for a seamless user experience 

Ensuring your site and business are in the best possible position ahead of the peak season traffic will help you to maximise Christmas sales by converting new and existing customers.

How to optimise your site ahead of Christmas

Since you’ll be facing an influx of returning customers and new visitors, you don’t want to deter them at the busiest time of year with an unoptimised website experience.

Below we’ve highlighted some common pain points at this time of year for online stores along with the solutions you need.

1. Solve low customer retention rates

Retention rates are a measurement of how successfully a company satisfies customers’ wants and needs.

Some of the reasons why customer retention is crucial to company growth and success include:

  • Improved return on investment (ROI): While saving on acquisition costs, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase revenue by 25-85%.5
  • Increased revenue and AOV: Returning customers buy more often and spend more money than new customers. 
  • Referrals: Customers who had a positive experience on your site are more likely to recommend their family and friends, bringing new, loyal customers.

Sometimes losing out on a conversion throughout this period is unavoidable. Many of your new customers will simply be browsing for the best Christmas offers, while other potential customers will be window shopping on your site with low purchase intent.

But when a new visitor does convert, having retention strategies in place will help to secure additional sales and grow your customer base for retargeting in the new year. 

Solution: Improve your customer retention by optimising the customer experience.

With these tips and tricks, providing an excellent customer experience is simple:

  • Display delivery and return information: Whether you offer free shipping or not, you must ensure your delivery and return options are clearly displayed on your site to set expectations and prevent confusion.
  • Promote discounts and deals: Many customers will be shopping for the best deals for Christmas gifts. Offering discounts or gift cards is a great way to secure a purchase and satisfy both new and existing customers.
  • Deliver a mobile-friendly site: mCommerce has boomed in recent years, so this year will see a surge in mobile shoppers. Ensure your website design is optimised for all customers whether they shop via desktop or on a mobile device.

By providing a seamless first experience on your site to visitors over the Christmas period, they’re more likely to return for future purchases, improving your customer retention rate and driving more conversions. 

Suggested reading: How to convert gift shoppers into returning customers.

2. Create personalised customer experiences

Personalisation is the foundation of a successful eCommerce marketing strategy and it’s something customers have come to expect from their Christmas shopping experience.

From tailored gift guides to personalising on-site messaging, campaigns or landing pages, this detail can be the difference between a conversion or a lost sale.

Solution: Utilise CRO tools like Digital Assistant to provide memorable shopping experiences for your customers.

Primed with ready-to-use campaigns that are optimised for eCommerce success, Digital Assistant allows retailers to support the most influential areas of the customer journey to connect users with their perfect purchase.

Providing a tailored experience for each visitor who lands on your site, whether they’re a returning or new customer, will ensure you’re optimising each touchpoint from the very first moment.

3. Resolve slow site speeds

Slow load times on your site can result in lost customers.

In a period where new customers will be at an all-time high, it’s not worth the risk of deterring potential customers from your website.

When addressing speed and usability issues, it’s important to consider the speed of your search bar. 

61% of all sites perform below an acceptable search performance that is misaligned with the user’s actual search behaviour and expectations.6

A slow search speed will deter users from continuing their shopping journey on your site and could drive them to your competitors on the hunt for an improved user experience. 

Solution: Consider utilising Salesfire’s Search to ensure you provide instant, accurate search results.

Since research shows that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, now is the opportunity to secure more conversions.7

This speedy search option comes with various benefits:

  • Provides a better user experience.
  • Prompts quicker conversion.
  • Increases product interaction.
  • Speeds up eCommerce growth.

Improving the product discovery experience will encourage users to browse your full product catalogue and quickly unite them with their perfect purchase. This will help you to stand out from the crowd and convert potential buyers into loyal customers. To put it simply – the faster, the better.

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Final thoughts

The key to getting your site ready for Christmas is to be prepared.

It’s wise to expect a surge in website traffic throughout this holiday season, so analyse your consumer’s behaviour and ensure components of your site are optimised ahead of time.

1 Circus PPC

2 8 Holiday Marketing Campaign Ideas & Tips to Delight Your Customers | BigCommerce

3 71% of online sellers are optimistic about eCommerce | Charged Retail

4 Circus PPC 

5 Prescription for cutting costs | Bain & Company

6 Stats on eCommerce Search and KPIs | Algolia

7 How loading time affects your bottom line | NeilPatel

See how Salesfire can help you optimise your product discovery experience, email one of our experts at [email protected] or book a free demo of our personalisation tools.