Three Steps to Increase Online Holiday Sales

By all accounts, the 2008 holiday shopping season is poised to be one the most challenging in recent memory. But perhaps the silver lining in this cloud is the fact that e-tailers are looking for ways to make the most of a tough season by increasing sales and driving revenue through technology.

That doesn’t mean there’s not room for further improvement. Retailers will spend billions of dollars to drive online traffic to their e-commerce sites, but still only realize conversion rates of 2.5%-3%. That means you must engage each visitor with targeted, personalized product recommendations as soon as they arrive on the site to optimize the revenue from that investment.

For those companies looking to stack more of the deck in their favor over the next month or so, here are three things you can still do right now to increase online holiday sales:

· Automate product recommendation processes. One of the largest obstacles to personalizing the shopping experience for online visitors is the laborious manual tasks that have been typically associated with online merchandising. Investing in systems that automate this trend and provide greater relevance to.

· Focus on current click-stream behavior. Instead of spending time reviewing demographic or classification information, marketers should focus on what users are currently surfing on their Website.

This provides e-tailers with the most effective way to deliver relevant content. How? Because consumers’ present behaviors on the site are the most accurate representation of their interests and needs at that time, not the demographic information that they filled out months ago.

This strategy also enhances Web experience for the customer by not requiring them to fill out annoying pop-up surveys or lengthy, intrusive online registration profiles, and thus further protecting consumer privacy.

· Integrate multiple channels. With emphasis on current customer interactions established, e-tailers should leverage this data by enabling like-minded visitors to be dynamically grouped together for predictive purposes, providing additional functionality to such applications as community radio, movie guides, gift registries and social shopping.

This information can also be combined with other enterprise data to produce even broader predictive models of customer behavior. Doing so extends their benefits to offline campaigns, such as direct mail, telemarketing, media advertising and customer loyalty marketing campaigns.

Meyar Sheik is CEO/cofounder of Certona Corp. (, which makes the Resonance real-time revenue optimization and personalization platform.

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