The maelstrom that is the holiday shopping period is over. What a relief! How did your business fare? Did everything run smoothly, or were there a few hiccups? What aspects could you improve?
Whether you’re looking to fix the mistakes of last year or want to ensure continued growth in 2015, we’ve got you covered. In this series, we’ll take you through the pain points we saw retailers experience during the holiday rush and share tips on how to plan ahead to prevent these issues in the year to come.
Last week we covered how to deal with quantity mismanagement and negative feedback. In this post, we’ll tackle the following common missteps: low traffic on your website, mismanaged product data feeds and forgotten post-sale essentials.
1. Low Website Traffic
You expected your webstore traffic to pick up naturally during the holiday season. It did, but not nearly as much as you’d hoped, and you didn’t see a big increase compared with the year before. What went wrong? One likely possibility is that with each passing year, the e-commerce space is becoming increasingly competitive, with more and more retailers selling online. As a result, it’s simply harder for shoppers to find you.
Consumers are increasingly living, searching and shopping in the digital space, so if you’re not being seen online, you risk losing shoppers to your more digitally able competition. The right mix of digital marketing can be a powerful tool in driving clicks to your site.
A couple of tips:
- Consider listing on comparison shopping engines (CSEs): With a low barrier to entry and an already established infrastructure and audience, CSEs will help increase your brand awareness and allow you to meet customers during the research phase. Click-throughs from CSEs can be more valuable than those from search engines, since potential customers will have already received most of an item’s product information before landing on your site.
- Bid on long tail keywords: Neglecting long tail keywords is a common mistake among retailers. Especially during peak holiday periods, shoppers often know exactly what they’re looking for when searching for a gift on Google. While you may not be found on Google if a customer is simply looking for ‘headphones’, you’ll likely rise in the search engine results page with more specific queries like ‘Sony Active Series Headphones’. Plus, long tail keywords cost less and are more likely to convert. If you don’t have the time or manpower to create and bid on long tail keywords manually, consider ChannelAdvisor’s Inventory Driven Search feature, which automates long tail keyword creation based on your existing inventory data.
2. Mismanaging Your Feed
You’d been sending your data feed to Shopbot once a week. Everything ran smoothly throughout the year, but when you reduced your prices for holiday sales, mayhem struck. A few of your products sold faster than expected, but while you were busy rejoicing at the boost in sales, your stock began overselling before you could update your feed. You couldn’t source new stock in time, and you’re facing a slew of unhappy customers.
During peak shopping periods, whether it be pre-Christmas, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day or when you run your own sales promotions, it’s important to invest more time in ensuring the accuracy of your data feed. While sending a fresh, daily feed is ideal, we recommend looking to your past sales performance to ascertain the sweet spot for your business. In short, increase the regularity with which you update your feed to avoid being caught in an overselling nightmare – you’ll be glad you did. With ChannelAdvisor, you can also set a buffer for items that have a high sales velocity, so that if you have, for instance, only five items of a SKU left, your listing will automatically update so that customers can no longer purchase the item.
3. Forgetting the Post-Sales Essentials
Your post-sale service strategy could make or break your business. This is not only essential for keeping customers satisfied and loyal, but it could also be the key differentiator in whether a shopper decides to purchase. For example, 59% of consumers say they consider shipping costs when making online purchase decisions, and 53% say low-cost shipping is an important reason they would switch to a different online retailer.
If you slipped up on service over the holidays, consider implementing these strategies to boost your performance this year:
- Next-day delivery
- Free returns
- Free shipping (our experts recommend that even if you have to raise a product’s price to offer free shipping, it’s worth it)
- Online chat service for customer queries
While you may not be able to offer all these services, pinpoint a few ways your business can increase customer satisfaction this year, while still maintaining revenue goals. Think outside the box – even a handwritten thank-you card can go a long way in setting you apart from the crowd.
Blog post by Shani Flynn, APAC marketing copywriter, ChannelAdvisor