Retail businesses routinely report that 70% of their annual business happens after Thanksgiving – in the lead up to Christmas. The question is then – is your retail website ready for prime time? If you haven’t done it already, you need to go over your website with a tooth comb and make sure that you have enough conversion optimization done. You can’t afford to make mistakes in the biggest shopping season after all, can you?
The basic idea with preparing your website for the holiday rush is to simply snag as many customers “driving” past your website as possible. The more hassle-free you make it for the customer to casually step in, buy and leave, the more successful you will be at selling to him. That’s a basic rule of selling anyone anything on the Internet. You need to do quite a bit of sneaky psychological second-guessing to divert a little bit of passing traffic into your store.
Widening your net
What is the easiest way to funnel more customers into your website? You need to cast your net wider, of course. Niche, local websites often do a very poor job of selling outside of the local area. Often, this is because they don’t even try to appeal to a larger market. Everything about their website screams “local”. To approach doing business in this way would be to negate the greatest advantage of Internet selling – selling beyond the limits set by geographic boundaries. Retail websites need to look into widening their market for better conversion. This can be especially important for niche websites.
Deploying password masking
Mobile phone browsers have this special way of displaying text when you enter a password. Each letter that you type into a password field appears briefly before turning into a masking asterisk or dot. This can be an excellent idea for a regular computer browser, too. People mostly make mistakes typing things in that they can’t see. You could try to help your customers out with password masking – showing them each letter as they type it in. You will lose fewer customers to password frustration this way.
Don’t worry about signing customers up first
Without a doubt, it is nice to have customers be loyal – signing up for an account and possibly a newsletter. You can’t really push for this kind of loyalty when it’s the holiday shopping season though. When you slow people down with sign-up pages when they’re in a tearing hurry to get done and get going, they could just get disgusted with the whole thing and go elsewhere (probably Amazon, where they already have an account). You don’t want to worry your customers about signing in first; you just need to give them whatever they plan to buy at a reasonable price and get out of their way. A guest check-in is a great way to keep customers happy. Try to take every obstacle out of your customers’ path as they make their way to the checkout page, and you’ll sell more. It’s a simple rule of conversion optimization.
Taking the hassle out of shopping online
There are many other ways that you could think of to help ease the way to the checkout. Doing everything you can to make shipping an affordable option could be one way to go. There are other things that you could do with your shipping, too. You could remind your customers of when the shipping deadlines are – for an effective way to put a little hustle in their step.
Customers can often simply walk away (or click away, rather) because they aren’t sure about a product in some way. They won’t even try to talk about it because they are not sure about how long it might take. A quality chat facility can often appear a lot more accessible to people than a phone call that comes with the possibility of a long hold. People feel even better about getting touch with a retailer over Facebook than using the phone. These are extremely important these days – even more than e-mail or phone customer support are. Give people lightning fast access to information and support through these methods and they will reward you with a quick march to the checkout page.
Every retail website should advertise its customer friendly returns policy in the best way it can think of. The easier the returns are, the more quickly people will buy. It’s a great conversion optimization idea to simply use a great returns policy (and to advertise it).
You do need to test everything out first, of course
Not every one of these rules works in every kind of retail area. It would always be a good idea to test every conversion optimization change out with a limited rollout before you take it live. When you do find something that really seems to make sense for your customers, you need to latch onto it.
When you are a very small online retail operation, it can be a real challenge to get the customers who come in to actually buy something. It’s about the worst feeling to have customers come in and leave without buying. How do you get those people to actually convert (to use standard industry jargon)? If you find that there are many customers who come in but leave with nothing more than a good look around, you may need to look at your conversion optimization situation. Your answer could lie in tweaking your website to sell better.