They say the early bird gets the worm, and if you're an online retailer "early" isn't measured in hours or weeks, but in months. Holiday preparations seem to begin earlier each year and if you haven't started strategizing you may already have to play catch-up. In honor of September, here are 9 tips to help boost online sales and service this upcoming holiday season:
1. Plan Your Work & Work Your PlanBalancing resources is a key part of a successful holiday season. Map out how popular shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday will affect your order volume and make any necessary staffing adjustments to meet demand. Contact your carriers and communicate expected volumes so they can allocate the best equipment and resources to meet shipping deadlines.
2. Get SocialWith 50 million tweets per day, (600 per second) it's very likely that your business has already been mentioned on Twitter and other social media sites. Use social media to not only monitor what they're saying but also to drive sales. Consider Twitter for "secret" promotional offers for followers and prize drawings for Facebook Likes. Engage your customers in the communities they already access everyday.
3. Hello M-Commerce"Today's generation doesn't call it a mobile phone; they call it a phone," says Google CEO Eric Schmidt. In fact, recent research from electronics review site Retrevo discovered that 59% of consumers have shopped on their cell phones, using it as a tool to research prices, find coupons and locate retail stores. Mobile commerce (m-commerce) isn't a phase, it's the next big thing. Having a mobile version of your website is a way to demonstrate industry leadership and drive impulse sales this holiday season.
4. What a Deal!Free or upgraded shipping can be a great conversion tool. And, since you've chosen OnTrac, it doesn't break the bank. Consider a free shipping day or free shipping on large orders as a way to seal the deal.
5. Check Out Your CheckoutAs online shopping continues to grow, so do customer expectations. Abandoned shopping carts are a big deal that often result from avoidable situations. Focus on simplicity and openness. Be up front about shipping charges, payment options and return policies.
6. Think Inside the BoxCapturing an order is important, but fulfilling it is crucial. Evaluate your shipping materials and packing procedures for opportunities to not only increase cargo safety but reduce costs. Choosing the right size box for an order could yield additional dimensional weight savings, but remember to allow space for at least a few inches of packing material on all sides.
7. Fight WISMO with InfoOnline shopping removes the stress caused by malls and crowded stores, but not keeping customers in the loop could produce similar feelings. Reduce "Where IS My Order" inquiries by incorporating OnTrac real-time tracking information into confirmation emails and order status pages.
8. DiversifyDepending on your situation and projected volumes it may be a good time to consider a 3PL. Third-party logistics services, including the ones offered in selected OnTrac areas, can easily alleviate any additional holiday volume and may provide you other cost-cutting opportunities.
9. Time Will TellHiring seasonal help is a common practice for many businesses, including OnTrac. Take this chance to see how temporary workers perform, they may be great candidates for future part-time and full-time positions.
In the end it's about providing excellent service. All components of your business, from shopping cart interface to order preparation and fast delivery need to echo your company's commitment to the very best, not only in online shopping but in customer service. A lasting positive experience that will set you apart well beyond the holiday season.