10 Ways to Prepare for eCommerce Peak Seasons in 2021
- Prepare high-quality marketing campaigns
- Optimize timings for campaigns
- Introduce interactive seasonal promotions
- Use various Social Media platforms for targeting
- Offer customer support in peak times
- Checking website stability and performance
- Guarantee availability of products
- Implement structured website SEO
- Offer a seamless buying process and a mobile-friendly site
- Provide a convenient return policy
- To conclude
The annual eCommerce peak seasons are once again at the doorstep. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the sudden global lockdowns, 2020 was definitely a profitable year for eCommerce retailers. In other words, they saw a great increase in their website traffic, orders, and sales. According to Statista, the global eCommerce traffic in June 2020 alone hit a record of 22 billion monthly visits.
Of course, the pandemic brought some economic uncertainty globally but it seems as though sales trends in the eCommerce industry did not fall short of their annual increase. Digital Commerce 360 estimates show that online spending in the US represented 21.3% of total retail sales for the year. This marks an almost 5% increase from the 15.8% in 2019 and the biggest year-over-year jump ever recorded on US soil. The eCommerce peak season offers also played a crucial part in these numbers, as certain buyers were eagerly awaiting discounts and special holiday prices.
In this light, the biggest challenge for online retailers and eCommerce websites is the peak season. And whether you are a dropshipping business or an online eCommerce retail shop, it is crucial to address these several dates with special care. Here are various tips and strategies that might help eCommerce retailers to prosper in the upcoming peak seasons.
Prepare high-quality marketing campaigns
First things first, a quality, well-defined campaign is the fundamental element of every strategy for eCommerce businesses. What better way to differentiate your services in the eCommerce peak seasons than to offer a unique and eye-catching online campaign that many customers would go for rather than those of your competitors?
It is very important to take into account last year’s statistics about what performed well. This will help you determine what to change for the 2021 experience. You can even compare with data from previous years to better determine what drives sales. Collecting the data can tell you which promotions performed best, and which channels made the highest number of conversions. Furthermore, it can show you whether your customers made more purchases on their phones or their computers. Additionally, if you are a dropshipping store owner, for this strategy you can also consult your dropshipping supplier as to when and how their marketing campaigns will be carried out.
Finally, creating targeted campaigns is a challenging process but when done correctly, it generates high-ranking results and brings great profits.
Optimize timings for campaigns
According to research conducted by Criteo, about 6 in 10 shoppers in the US and 1 in 2 shoppers in Europe said that they will not wait until Black Friday to buy gifts if they get early discounts from their favorite retailers. Interestingly enough, if you have an online store you can use this to your advantage. Extend your campaigns in order to include the period before certain holidays. This way you’ll be giving your customers a bigger time window to make a purchase. What’s more, you can even attract new customers. This strategy can help your business grow and provide you with more conversions. You can organize early-bird offers for Easter, pre-Halloween discounts, or cut shipping fees for orders purchased in the Mid-season sales. Again, if you have a dropshipping store you can align your campaigns with those of your supplier. This will help you bring the best out of the eCommerce peak seasons.
Introduce interactive seasonal promotions
Replacing the old-fashioned banners with interactive quizzes, or surveys is a pretty simple and innovative way to keep your audience’s attention. People want interaction and tend to oversee the plain ads or even scroll past them. Generating new customers is one of the advantages of this type of campaign as it will keep the attention of the wider audience. You can choose whether to use a video as an interactive ad, a collage of images, or an animation. All of these are effective in catching the consumer’s eye and extending the time spent at your online store.
According to research conducted by Magna, Tremor Video DSP, and IPG Media lab, interactive video ads prolong consumers’ attention by 47%, unlike the non-interactive ones. The study also concludes that brands triple their time spent with consumers if they use 15-second interactive ads. Therefore, if your goal is to stand out from the competition in the eCommerce peak seasons for online shopping be sure to include any type of interactive ad to maximize engagements, increase traffic and boost sales. Only then you can reap the fruits of your successful strategy.
Use various Social Media platforms for targeting
In order to optimize your campaigns for the upcoming eCommerce peak seasons, and enhance your sales even further, you might want to consider using social media platforms. Nowadays, social media is the most convenient way to connect with people and share ideas and thoughts. These platforms connect millions of people and the numbers are increasing year by year.
According to recent statistics, the most popular social media platform with 2.740 million users is Facebook. It is followed by Youtube, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Running a campaign on even one of these platforms can generate substantial reach and amount to numerous new conversions. You can use paid ads and post boosts to get the attention of a wider audience, as well.
However, you will need to keep an eye on organic reach, and to do so you will need various service or product reviews posted on your account pages. Using hashtags that are relevant to your brand can also improve your overall platform visibility and attract new clients. Besides, Facebook and Instagram offer some features that allow you to load your list of products or connect your website’s eCommerce platform and set up a shop there. Clients will see your products while scrolling on Facebook or Instagram and can see a tag that if tapped will lead them to your business website where they can make a purchase.
Offer customer support in peak times
According to a last-year eCommerce stats report by SaleCycle, Monday and Thursday are the two days that mark the highest sales in online shopping, and the peak time for making a purchase is between 8 pm and 9 pm. The weekends are reserved for leisure time and this rule applies even in the eCommerce sector. What you can learn from this is that it would be probably very smart to have a customer support agent available during these peak times for online shopping. In general, the customer support service shift ends with the end of the working day. For this reason, businesses tend to set automatic responses for every message or inquiry received after these hours. However, the eCommerce peak times – holidays, mid-season discounts, and other hard-to-miss offers create pretty hectic website traffic. So, being able to provide instant support in these peak times would bring profits and gain customer appreciation. And which brand does not want them both at the same time?
Checking website stability and performance
A general guideline for a traditional or dropshipping store’s performance is: if the loading time is longer than 3 seconds then it would probably drive away your potential customers. Ultimately, this will result in your business losing profit. A report by Retail Systems Research found that the average time for loading on mobile sites is 9.5 seconds compared to 16.6 seconds on desktop sites. This is concerning for retailers because numerous studies have proven that they risk losing up to 7% of conversion rates for a delay of only one second. The good news is that this can be easily avoided with regular tests especially before the eCommerce peak seasons such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday when website traffic is skyrocketing. What you can do is test how your website is behaving when faced with a hectic amount of traffic and address issues if any.
Guarantee availability of products
This element is especially important if you have a dropshipping store. Consumers often feel frustrated when they are stripped of their buying right during a shopping spree only because the item they want to purchase is out of stock.
Before the eCommerce peak seasons, it is advisable to check the level of items you will offer to consumers and assess if that number corresponds with your purchase estimates. In dropshipping, you actually aren’t responsible for stocking the products you sell. Your dropshipping supplier is the one who manages this operation. So, get in touch with its representatives and check what they have in stock. This way you will avoid your customer paying for a product that your supplier doesn’t have in stock.
Implement structured website SEO
If your online store is slightly new on the market and you still haven’t done the appropriate SEO, you have a 0% chance to rank in Google SERP. Bear in mind that a well-structured SEO is something that separates you from being listed on the first site of the Google search results. Over time this might cause you a steep decline in leads, orders, and sales. A 2017 study conducted by SEMRush shows that 38% of the retailer traffic comes from organic search. With all this said, SEO will drive your organic search traffic up and help your business rank higher in SERP.
Offer a seamless buying process and a mobile-friendly site
In case you are wondering how to create a seamless buying process, the answer is very simple. Use various features on your website to facilitate purchases and make the overall experience for consumers pleasant. Do not confuse your customers with over-the-top designs and banners in places where they shouldn’t be. Besides, you must always offer a mobile version with the same functionalities to those who browse on their phones. According to reports, more than half of all internet purchases come from a mobile device. Statistics also show that on Cyber Monday in 2019, 54% of visitors were from mobile devices. Moreover, 33% made their purchases on their phones. These percentages seem to annually increase which is a good reason to fully optimize your online store.
Provide a convenient return policy
Lastly, you must have a well-thought-of return policy that will not give headaches to potential buyers. Certainly not in the peak seasons for online shopping. It doesn’t matter if you have a dropshipping store or a traditional eCommerce store, you must abide by the return policy rules and regulations.
Particularly, if your target audience is based in the EU, your return policy should respect the 14-day return policy. This part gets tricky if you are collaborating with dropshipping suppliers that offer a different return policy. Therefore, make sure to address this issue with your supplier and find a way to provide a convenient return policy. Lastly, this is a high percentage but if you take into account that in eCommerce peak seasons e.g. Christmas, a huge part of the items that people purchase are gifts so, naturally, the return rates would be at least a bit higher than in regular periods. Online shoppers want the same convenience that the brick-and-mortar stores offer, so why not give them the same experience.
In 2021, a year of hope for many people, the eCommerce peak seasons will still bring new challenges for every online retail store. No matter if they are small or big, it is crucial to address these challenges the right way. Whether it is Mother’s Day, World eCommerce Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or BFCM consumers would still want to buy themselves or their loved ones gifts. What is important for you is to lead them to your products and convince them that the hardest thing they’ll need to do will be checking off items from their shopping lists.
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