The pandemic's effect on shopping provides online stores an opportunity to promote last-last-minute gift deals for the holidays.

Gert Svaiko, freelance copywriter based in Tallinn, Estonia.

Gert Svaiko, freelance copywriter based in Tallinn, Estonia

The ravaging global pandemic is affecting how people approach holiday shopping this year. While there are various restrictions in different locations, some people tend to stay home and away from crowded places.

During the recent Black Friday shopping holiday, most stores were noticeably empty. It didn’t come as a surprise, though, and retailers prepared for this event by moving their holiday deals to their online storefronts with great success.

Furthermore, a consumer behavior survey showed that people plan to shop online on Black Friday rather than in stores this year. Last year the survey results were the opposite, with the majority planning to visit physical stores.

We can safely state that people are avoiding going out and would rather stay in and do their shopping on the internet. This opens an excellent opportunity for online stores to capitalize on this behavior.

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So, how can you position your ecommerce site for the remainder of 2020?

Use the remaining holidays

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping holidays that are famous for lucrative deals and discounts. However, the holiday season offers further opportunities for online stores to attract customers.

One of these occasions is Green Monday, which is on Dec 14 this year. The term originated more than a decade ago when online shopping giants discovered that a week and a half before Christmas is the busiest time when people are shopping for last-minute presents. A shopping holiday called Free Shipping Day also falls on Dec 14 this year. As the term suggests, this holiday celebrates the convenience of shopping without leaving your home, and customers expect a free delivery clause with their purchase.

Since Christmas and New Year’s Day are times people spend with their family and friends, this year is different due to the growing health warnings. This opens an opportunity for the online stores to promote last-last-minute gift deals surrounding Christmas and the new year.

Optimize your site for mobile

Mobile shopping is a growing trend among consumers due to its convenience and the increasing number of smartphone users. During Thanksgiving this year, online shopping hit a record with $5.1 billion in sales. Of those sales, 47% came from consumers buying on mobile devices.

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However, it’s not enough that people can access your online store through their smartphone. It’s equally essential that the performance of your site meets the modern requirements of consumers as well. According to Google’s research, 40% of consumers will leave a mobile page that takes longer than three seconds to load. This means that you also need to make sure the site’s servers can equally perform on top of making the site mobile-friendly.

You can use the mobile-friendly testing tool to see if you’re all set for the remainder of the holiday season or if you should make any changes.

Offer a wide range of payment options

According to research, purchases made using mobile wallets could surpass both credit and debit purchases this year. Consumers feel more comfortable and safer using their virtual payment options, and your ecommerce site should respond accordingly.

There are many different online payment providers out there, from PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Payments to 3rd party platforms that allow seamless currency exchanges for foreign buyers. To avoid cluttering your site, pick the most popular providers, but don’t forget about your potential customers from other countries.

You can easily find the visitor’s origin information on Google Analytics and prepare your site’s payment options accordingly.

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Add a shareable wishlist feature

A wishlist is a feature that allows your customers to save and share items from an online store. Together with an abandoned cart feature, a wishlist creates an opportunity to retarget visitors with various digital marketing methods, such as ads, email retargeting campaigns, or discount alerts.

The wishlist also functions as social proof by showing what other visitors of your site are hoping to buy. This gives a further incentive for a customer also to purchase the item that other people are eyeing. The sharing option enables your visitors to provide friends and family a straightforward way of buying meaningful gifts. A great example of a practical wishlist is Amazon’s Most Wished For section.

Amazon’s “Most Wished For” section is a good example of a practical wishlist.

Speedy delivery encourages holiday sales

Slow delivery times or lost packages are a nightmare for the online shopper. Since one of the critical benefits of an online store experience is convenience, offering a quality delivery service goes a long way to retain your customers.

According to Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights 2020 Post-Holiday survey, 39% of people surveyed answered that they would purchase more online if the delivery is faster.

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Amazon Prime is the perfect example of driving sales through fast and reliable delivery of goods. Amazon Prime members make up more than half of Amazon’s customer base in the U.S.

Sure, most online stores can’t afford their own fleet of delivery vans or juicy contracts with other delivery companies. However, you can pick a reliable delivery service partner with a proven track record to take care of the shipping.

Email marketing campaigns for the holidays

Digital marketing is more important than ever because people are staying inside, and some are working from home. In this environment, digital channels offer the only way to reach potential or existing customers.

Research shows that 58% of us check email before anything else on our devices. Furthermore, email marketing generates the highest engagement level, and 72% of customers prefer email as their primary way of business communication.

Create an effective email marketing campaign around the holiday season, and you can drive sales from your existing customer base. You can also give a seasonal incentive to encourage new subscribers that visit your site.

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We live in ever-changing times, and there’s no indication when things go back to normal. And maybe this is the new normal. However, your online store can benefit from a temporary situation with some creative preparation and offer the service that many of us need.

Gert Svaiko is a freelance copywriter based in Tallinn, Estonia. He works mainly with digital marketing companies in the United States and European Union. 

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