In 2014, online and eCommerce sales accounted for $101.9 billion of the total holiday retail sales. An increase of 6.8% from the previous year. It’s no surprise that online shopping is growing into a major contributor of holiday sales. So much so that it’s spawned several of it’s own holiday shopping milestones, including Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day.
So whether you run an online store only or your eCommerce platform supports a physical retail store, it’s important to understand the psychology of online shopping, what motivates buyers and why online consumers make the choices they do. As you put together your seasonal promotions plan, consider these strategies, inspired by how shoppers think, to motivate online purchases on your site.
Make Sure Shoppers Are in the Mindset for Shopping
An important first step is to understand when people are shopping. This way you can “speak” to them when they are in the mindset to make purchases. Shopify has shown that people begin searching Google for Christmas ideas as early as August!
Of course all retailers prepare for the official kick-off to the holiday shopping season, both in-store and online, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Additional dates that have become top performers in the lead up to the holidays are:
- Green Monday – The second Monday in December is named Green Monday for the influx in cash it brings to retailers. This is the date where people start to feel the crunch and stop procrastinating.
- Free Shipping Day – In 2015, Free Shipping Day is being celebrated on December 18. Promoted by countless online retailers, they will provide free shipping on standard deliveries, and can still offer delivery by Christmas Eve.
- Super Saturday – This is the last Saturday before Christmas and a big day for those who typically save their shopping for the last minute.
Keep these dates in mind when you are planning out your sales and promotions throughout November and December.
Create A Sense of Online Urgency
This is a classic example of FOMO! That’s Fear of Missing Out and the struggle is real. No one wants to miss out on the perfect gift or the biggest savings. Take a page from the grandaddy of online retailers, Amazon, and call out items with a dwindling inventory.
Amazon uses “20 left in stock” as their trigger to promote purchase urgency. If you have an item that does sell quickly and goes out of stock, allow for online shoppers to sign up for an email alert when inventory is replenished. The follow-up email can also spark a fire for shoppers to get their purchase completed.
Additionally, you can use a countdown feature to show shoppers exactly how many days, hours, or minutes they have to take advantage of a site-wide sale or special promotion. As the days tick by, add a “Need it By Christmas?” callout to each product page. Tell shoppers how many days are remaining to place their order so that it arrives by Christmas Eve.
Keep Online Shoppers Happy
Did you know that coupons bring happiness? A study from Coupons.com and Claremont Graduate University proved that coupon recipients experience signs of happiness, lowered stress, and relaxation. And while coupons and discount codes are a staple of online promotions, the psychology of online shopping shows that they still bring joy.
So what’s the winning discount strategy? A percentage off? A set dollar amount savings? A BOGO offer? There may not be a concrete answer, as every shopper may be enticed by a different promotion. We recommend implementing A/B testing into your emailing marketing strategy to see which offer resounds best with your customers. With all else created equal, same subject; same graphics; same delivery date; same products, test two different offer types (20% off or $25 off) to see which results in more purchases.
Also, consider an element of exclusivity in your discount offers. Create a flash sale, a sneak peek event, a bump in savings, or added 2-day shipping for select customers. Segment individuals who have signed on for loyalty programs, repeat customers, or first-time visitors. Making someone feel special is never a bad thing.
Get Online Shoppers Over the Final Hump
One reason that some shoppers choose to shop in retail stores is that they can avoid the added shipping costs associated with ordering online. Shipping charges are often cited as the main reason that an online shopper will abandon their shopping cart. Whether you offer periods of site-wide free shipping or an everyday free shipping thresholds, shipping promotions can break down that mental block that shoppers have about buying online. Be sure that you’re clearly communicating your shipping policies and, more importantly, cut-off dates for packages to arrive in time for the holidays.
Also, consider offering free returns. Many times shoppers are reluctant to purchase products online because if things don’t work, they have to pay to return their items. Zappos was one of the first online retailers to offer Free Shipping & Free Returns and has built a loyal fan-base because of this generous customer service strategy.