The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
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It’s never too early to start preparing your store for early holiday shoppers. One of the best parts of shopping online during the holidays is that customers can skip the crowded malls, put on some music and sip a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or eggnog and enjoy the experience shopping from their homes. Unlike the malls, shopping online is quick, easy, and depending on where the merchant is located, cheaper, as customers may not have to pay sales tax. Here are some tips for getting the orders rolling in early as well as providing customers with the best possible experience that will keep them coming back to your website year after year:

    • Just after Halloween is a great time to send out a holiday promotion to try and recapture your high-value early shoppers by giving them a reason to return to your store. You can combine an email featuring holiday gift ideas with a promotional e-coupon to entice shoppers. Adding an expiration date to the coupon will give customers a sense of urgency but don’t forget to send a follow-up email just before the sale ends.
    • If there is one thing customers LOVE, it’s free shipping. Consider offering free shipping depending on the amount of purchase. For example, offering free shipping for visitors that spend over $100 can not only make or break a sale but can also help increase revenues. If you’re a Nexternal client, you can also use features like dynamic messaging, which clearly communicates this discount to customers. Many merchants participate in Free Shipping Day, which is Wed, December 18, 2013. The companies offer free shipping and other discounts with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve (in the contiguous U.S.)
    •  Save your customers the cost of shipping by offering to ship directly to the gift recipient as well as multiple recipients within the same order. Nexternal’s “multiple ship to” feature offers this option. This can be activated in Settings/Site Options/Multiple Ship To. This can help merchants improve the customer experience by cutting down the number of orders a customer has to place. It also reduces the number of transactions a merchant must process, thus cutting down the amount of time a merchant spends with order processing.
    • Clearly state return and exchange policies. Since these policies vary widely, it’s wise to take the time to research what your competitors are offering. Many online companies will allow customers to return their purchase to a physical store in their area. It’s ideal to consider offering free shipping for a returned item. Also, provide support help for visitors who have visited your Help & FAQ pages.
    • Not everyone jumps on the early holiday shopping sleigh so don’t forget to offer your procrastinating customers the option to buy gift cards online. Virtual gift certificates are the only present these last minute shoppers can buy and have delivered right away.

Your busiest selling season of the year is just around the corner. Following the ideas above can help ensure you are ready to capture high-value customers before someone else does. Online shopping is on the rise year after year, start marketing now to ensure you capture early shoppers when there is little competition!

Shauna has a background in information technology and is currently a Senior Account Executive at Nexternal . She has been creating and cultivating client relationships with brands since 2007, offering her clients both eCommerce and online marketing insight.