Why Early Preparation is Key to E-commerce Success This Holiday Season

May 23, 2014 12:04 PM  By

HolidayPic-300The holiday rush for e-commerce shoppers is still months away, but e-retailers are already outlining and executing marketing strategies for 2014’s digitized shopping season. According to research from comScore, mobile commerce’s year-on-year growth rate jumped to 24 percent between 2012 and 2013, setting the pace for mobile transactions in 2014. E-retailers must start testing and adapting now in order to meet revenue targets driven by web and mobile traffic.

Forrester Research cites 2013 as a great year for e-commerce, and 2014 promises to eclipse expectations. Online direct sales will reach close to $300 billion in 2014, and an additional $1.4 trillion of all retail sales will be influenced by web traffic.

For retailers to capitalize on the digital influx isn’t as simple as creating a web-ready e-commerce platform. Revenue and customers are easily lost to small annoyances like dead links, delays in load time, ineffective enterprise search and poor user experience.

To build an assured, tested and seamless holiday e-commerce experience, e-retailers need to infuse urgency into the following key steps now to ensure they’re prepared before the holiday onslaught.

  • Remember the Importance of Mobile: Mobile accounts for more and more holiday shopping searches and transactions each year. To avoid losing valuable revenue and reach your customers wherever they are – even at the point of purchase – your website must fully support the mobile commerce experience. Smart marketers know they are capitalizing on holiday sales by making campaigns and websites mobile-ready. 
  • Pass the Test: Retailers see a surge in web traffic throughout the holiday shopping season, but slow page load times can lead consumers to abandon a purchase and possibly desert an online retailer altogether. Begin testing your website before the heavy shopping season to get ahead of any possible snags. 
  • Have a Backup Plan: Savvy online retailers make sure they know where to direct shopper traffic if they can’t service requests. Static pages to take any overflow must be prepped now to avoid those pesky error pages from appearing. Don’t forget to lighten your website when traffic gets heaviest – get rid of page clutter and plan which complicated digital elements can be removed.
  • Use the Right Data at the Right Time: A large retailer will have access to more than one million data points each day. That’s big data – but is it good data? And what are you doing with that data? Marketers need to have best practices in place for data collection, plus analysis and reporting to enable timely decision-making.
  • Mind your PIM: Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season will put your product catalogs and product information management (PIM) to the test. Utilizing PIM best practices can offer tremendous ROI, unleash hidden potential, and enable cross-sell, mobile, and omnichannel marketing, among many other initiatives. Strong technology is crucial to highly effective PIM strategies; however, the approach to people, process and data are the true keys to success.
  • Rapid Response: Despite months of planning, last-minute changes and alterations are inevitable. Increasingly, response is becoming a cornerstone of marketing programs with immediate decisions hinging on real-time data monitoring, analysis and reporting. Having the staff and processes in place to collect, analyze and report web, mobile and social data will help maximize revenues for day-of success.

 Scott Houchin is the Managing Principal at eClerx.