Optimizing Your Website for Holiday Sales

  •    Freelance designer specializing in logos, print and web development.

The holidays are upon us, and more than ever people are ditching the horrible mall traffic to shop from the comfort of their favorite internet browsers. Folks are opting out of the holiday hustle and bustle, and statistics are proving it! This year’s online store holiday sales in the US are expected to to hit $105 billion, which is an 11% increase from last year.

What does this mean for you? If you have a product to sell, now is the absolute best time to take advantage of an online store for your website.

From a design perspective, there are a few tips to keep in mind that can convert your online store visitors into paying customers.

Make Your Product Photos “Pop”

When you sell a product online, you have to take into account that your customer can’t feel or see your product in person. This may lead to a bit of buying skepticism from online shoppers. One thing you can do to combat this skepticism is present your product with beautiful photography.

If it fits your budget, hire a decent photographer who has experience with product photography. Make sure that your website features multiple flattering angles of your product, up close and far away. Also, shoppers are more likely to trust a product if they see it in use, so provide shots of your product in action. Avoid using a model’s face if possible, as people tend to disassociate themselves with a product if they see a random person’s face in the picture (unless you sell eyeglasses, headwear or have a celebrity endorsement).

When showcasing your key products, give the top sellers their own page with multiple full width images and diagrams pointing out positive features. As an example, Incase illustrates this tactic very well with their backpacks.

Social Sharing Coupons

Whether it’s Black Friday or the day after Christmas, people are always looking for a sale and sharing deals they’ve found with friends. You can seize this opportunity by designing and displaying coupons for all site visitors and giving an extra discount to those who spread awareness on social media.

Lets walk through the steps behind a simple social sharing coupon:

  • Create a call-to-action button on your home page, saying something like, “Share with friends for a 15% discount”.
  • The button would link to a page hidden from navigation with a form. A splash page layout works well for this.
  • The form says something like, “You scratch our back and we’ll scratch yours! Share on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook for a 15% discount. Use the #YourCompanyHashtag and link back to YourCompanyWebsite. Snap and upload a screenshot to the post to get your discount instantly!”
  • The form would have two required fields: email address and file upload button.
  • Once the user submits the post, the confirmation text can be a thank you message along with the 15% promo code.

In this coupon example you just earned a successful product sale, email address for further engagement and raised brand awareness on social media!

Recheck Your Overall Design

The numbers are in! Based on an infographic put together by KissMetrics, research shows that:

  • 42% of site visitors base their opinions of a product ONLY on it’s website design.
  • 52% of site visitors did not return to a site because of bad aesthetics.

So recheck your overall website design to make sure your site looks professional. A good place to start is by following the 3 simple design tips here.

You should also take advantage of responsive design as holiday sales from a mobile device have risen 36% since 2010.

Some layout and design basics to try:

  • Include a contact number on your website that will link a user to a live person if they are struggling with an order.
  • Update and share the number of orders shipped or customers served.
  • Mention that you accept paypal.
  • Get a secure SSL domain to build user trust, and highlight the fact that your website has a secure domain.
  • To reduce initial skepticism, implement a product reviews plugin on your page. Here is an example of one tool: http://www.gigya.com/social-plugins/ratings-reviews/