Practical Ecommerce

10 Quick, Easy and (Almost) Free Ways to Close Sales During the Holiday Shopping Season

The highly anticipated holiday shopping season is already upon us. Active online stores are seeing more traffic, and price comparison sites have been feeding more data than in previous months. The big boost in traffic starts around November 19, and then skyrockets right after Thanksgiving.

If you’ve been procrastinating store updates, well, it’s a bit late for big overhauls. But there are plenty of quick and free — or inexpensive — things you can do to help convert more visitors throughout the next few weeks. Here are ten ideas to help, noting that the cost listed is based on fees for actually using services and scripts. The time required, however, varies by user.

  1. Integrate a Live Chat. For low-traffic stores, a self-hosted script like PHP Live Helper can provide visitors with a means of asking questions in real time. Cost: Free to a one-time charge of $99.99.

    Live chat can help guide customers to products and through checkout. Most services and software include stock imagery for online and offline notifications.

    Live chat can help guide customers to products and through checkout. Most services and software include stock imagery for online and offline notifications.

  2. Social Buttons. If your product pages don’t include share buttons for the big three — Facebook, Twitter and Google+ — you’re ignoring one of the most cost-effective methods to bring in real traffic. Word of mouth can trump almost any other type of marketing. Each social network provides snippets of code you can copy and paste into product templates. Cost: Free.

  3. Post your phone number prominently. By placing your contact number at the top of pages, shoppers feel more confident that they’ll receive their orders, and will be able to reach you quickly with questions while in process of checking out. Cost: Free.

  4. Hype key offers above the scroll line. Free shipping and the like should be prominently displayed, so be sure your selling points are near the top of each page. Cost: Free.

  5. List Dec. 24 delivery cutoff times. Be honest about how late someone can order to receive shipments in time for Christmas. Simply place a link to an info page, or a chart, in a prominent area. Cost: Free.

  6. Display the SSL seal. People want to feel comfortable and secure, so be sure to paste the site’s security certificate code in page templates. Show the seal in a prominent location during the checkout process. Cost: Free for most seal types.

  7. Post discount codes on the site, or make the box less prominent. To avoid people leaving the store to hunt for a code, consider your goal. If you give out lots of coupons, post them on the site itself. If you issue coupons selectively, make the box less noticeable. Cost: Determined by cart type, usually free.

  8. Tweak the return/exchange policy. Make sure it’s not too harshly worded. You’ll find return-policy tips in my previous article “Using the Return Policy to Convert Shoppers into Customers.” Cost: Free.

    While Target's latest design is too "empty", it does understand the importance of free shipping and easy returns. These messages are prominently displayed at the top of the site.

    While Target’s latest design is too "empty", it does understand the importance of free shipping and easy returns. These messages are prominently displayed at the top of the site.

  9. Display low-inventory alerts. Use a “conditional” to display low-quantity remaining notices. This can push impulse buttons so people will make an immediate purchase. Cost: Determined by cart; estimated $20-$45.

  10. Sell gift certificates. While not the biggest seller for small business sites, gift certificates can help recover additional sales, especially if you offer bonuses upon purchase. For tips on promoting gift certificate sales, see “6 Pointers for Selling Last-Minute Gift Certificates,” my earlier article on that topic. Cost: Determined by cart; estimated free to $150.

Pamela Hazelton

Pamela Hazelton

Bio   •   RSS Feed


email-news-env

Sign up for our email newsletter