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Holiday Ecommerce Strategy: How to Improve Your Store’s Conversion Rate This Christmas

Find out how to optimise your store for conversions this festive season with our 11 holiday ecommerce strategies!

Written By
Hannah Smiddy

We may have only just finished clearing the cobwebs of Halloween, but the retail world moves fast, and now the focus is well and truly on the festive season.

With another strong year of holiday ecommerce sales predicted1, and online competition fiercer than ever, you need a Christmas marketing strategy complete with all the trimmings.

One part of your strategy you certainly can’t afford to leave out in the cold this season is conversion rate optimisation (CRO) – especially when you consider all those shoppers who’ll be actively browsing the web on the hunt for specific gifts.

We’ve rounded up 11 tactics for improving your ecommerce conversion rate this Christmas, helping you to “sleigh” the 2021 holiday season!

11 ways to improve your ecommerce conversion rate this Christmas

#1 Create festive landing pages

First thing’s first, it’s time to get designing some dedicated Christmas landing pages – ones that’ll give your customers that warm and fuzzy festive feeling as soon as they land on your ecommerce store.

Whether you opt for winter wonderland vibes or a touch of glamorous seasonal sparkle, sprucing up your site with themed imagery will get visitors in the Christmas spirit (and the mood to buy!). Be sure to stick with a style that aligns with your brand however, so you don’t confuse shoppers.

Leading UK fashion retailer New Look has decorated its homepage with bold and colourful jewel tones, gift-wrapping it perfectly for the brand’s target audience.

Meanwhile, Shopify Plus beauty retailer 100% Pure has opted for a more muted Christmas display, in-keeping with the brand’s soft colour palette and elegant branding.

Whatever your brand’s style, you can inject a dose of holiday cheer that resonates with your audience and inspires action.

Highlight any holiday discounts or promotions on your landing pages – these are sure to attract Christmas shoppers so should take centre stage on your site.

Make sure your landing pages reflect your marketing campaigns too, showcasing the offer, product or collection that attracted a user’s coveted click in the first place. Providing a cohesive cross-channel experience like this is important for improving conversion rate.

The gang at HubSpot have rounded up 16 examples of holiday homepage designs – take a look for some more inspo!

#2 Get personal

Next up, on-site personalisation – a key way to stay on the nice list this Christmas and maximise conversion opportunity on your ecommerce site.

Tailored homepage content

Welcome returning customers with a personalised message on your homepage, perhaps with a festive offer tailored specifically to their needs or interests. Even something as simple as addressing them by name can make a customer feel special and more connected to your brand, increasing the likelihood of them purchasing from you again.

Personalised product recommendations

Use what you know about your shoppers, their intent and their purchase history to serve up personalised suggestions across your store. You could greet them on the homepage with a selection of tailored recommendations, or make these suggestions on product pages. Just a single interaction with a recommendation like this has been shown to improve conversion rate by 288%2!

These recommendations are also perfect for sprucing up your holiday season emails. Look how popular fashion retailer Boohoo captures attention in the inbox – a tailored subject line leading to an email packed with personalised dress suggestions!

Personalised search results

How about tailoring a user’s search results based on the information you’ve captured about them in their customer profile? Not only does this create a relevant and streamlined product discovery experience for them, it also increases the chance of converting them from a browser to a buyer. More on search functionality next!

Check out some more ecommerce personalisation examples over on our blog.

#3 Optimise your search and filter functionality

When it comes to shopping over the festive season, often consumers will have specific gifts they’re trying to find. These high-intent shoppers will want to track down their desired product on your website as quickly and easily as possible, especially if they’ve a long list of presents to purchase.

With this in mind, here are a few top tips to optimise your store’s search function and increase conversions:

  • First off, make sure shoppers can’t miss your search bar. Put it in a prominent position on both desktop and mobile, and maximise visibility by formatting it a different colour to your site’s background.
  • Help customers out by using a predictive autocomplete tool as they type in the search bar. This is perfect for streamlining the path to purchase!
  • Misspellings are inevitable, so make sure your search functionality can accommodate them with a strong error tolerance. If not, you risk driving frustrated customers off your site and putting a dent in your conversion rate.
  • Avoid zero results pages, as these are an immediate cue for customers to jump ship and visit a competitor’s site instead. If you don’t have a searched for item in stock, try showing other relevant products that the customer might like to consider (you can go one better here and show personalised product suggestions!).
  • Your ecommerce site should also allow users to filter their search results in order to discover the products that best meet their needs – don’t make them trawl through page after page of products! The combination of filters you use will depend on the products being filtered, although some of the most common ones include price, colour, brand, material and size.

Take a look at these seven examples of excellent ecommerce site search courtesy of leading search and personalisation platform Findify – there’s plenty of real-life inspo to help optimise your site and drive sales!

#4 Upgrade your product photography

It may sound dramatic, but the product images you use on your ecommerce store can make or break your customer experience and, in turn, your conversion rate.

They showcase your products, create a sense of desire and help build trust in your brand, making an impact throughout the purchase funnel. High-quality product photography can also distinguish your offering from that of your competitors – more important than ever during the festive season when competition is high.

Here’s how you can increase your conversion rate by improving your ecommerce photography:

Provide context

Showing your products in use in a series of lifestyle shots is a great tactic for connecting with consumers’ emotions and inspiring site visitors to make a purchase. Use contexts and locations that you know will resonate with your target audience for maximum results.

Use multiple angles

Consumers can’t touch, feel or pick up the products on your ecommerce site, but you can make up for this lack of physical interaction by showcasing items from a variety of angles. Don’t forget to include close-ups that show off any USPs, as well as images of your products in a selection of colours.

Luxury fashion brand Mansur Gavriel has this tactic nailed, showcasing the beautiful craftsmanship of its products with multiple shot types, including stunning close-ups.

Keep it consistent

Whether you choose a plain and simple background, or get festive with a Christmassy theme, try to pick one photo style and stick with it. Consistency is key, especially for your collection pages. Having a unified set of product images will strengthen your reputation as a reliable retailer, as well as making it easy for shoppers to compare products at a glance.

Get innovative

To take your product images to the next level, how about implementing 360° photography or embracing augmented reality (AR)?! Implementing an immersive shopping experience like this helps customers get to know your products better and boosts buyer confidence, not to mention increases engagement and conversions.

Find out more about the benefits of AR for ecommerce retailers.

#5 Create a sense of urgency

When it comes to turning browsers into buyers this Christmas, a tried-and-tested strategy you can turn to is to create a sense of urgency across your marketing channels.

Take note though, the purpose isn’t to instil panic or hurriedly push a customer through the purchase process, as this will likely lead to a case of buyer’s remorse followed by a hasty product return. It’s all about gently motivating a visitor to convert their interest into sale, whilst ultimately providing a positive buying experience.

Countdown timers

Consider using a dynamic countdown timer on your homepage to highlight the deadline for securing pre-Christmas delivery. This will generate an instant buzz when someone lands on your site, increasing buyer motivation.

A timer can also be effective when placed on a product page where people are making their purchase decisions – physically seeing time ticking down can inspire shoppers to buy before it’s too late.

Including a countdown in your marketing emails is another effective way to create urgency and encourage buying action. Combine this with a simple subject line that highlights the time remaining, as well as a compelling call to action.

Stock levels

Communicating low stock levels is a powerful tactic for inspiring urgency. Always be honest with the figures you use – misleading customers with false stock information is a surefire way to erode trust and damage your reputation.

Purchase/view counters

Consider implementing a purchase or view counter so that customers can see how many other shoppers have bought an item, or how many others are interested in it. This will increase its perceived value, as well as the customer’s urgency to purchase it themselves.

#6 Leverage social proof

People want to be confident in the brand they’re buying from and the product they’re purchasing – after all, it could be an important Christmas gift that’s under consideration.

Showcasing product reviews from real-life shoppers, like pet subscription brand YuMove has below, is a great way to answer questions and quell concerns that consumers might have – with the power to dramatically increase conversion rates.s might have – with the power to dramatically increase conversion rates.

Reviews that feature user-generated content like photos and videos are particularly powerful when it comes to converting cautious holiday shoppers. When a shopper can see another person (someone who shares similar characteristics with the gift recipient they have in mind) enjoying the product, this boosts trust and contributes to a much more positive experience on your site. This type of social proof can have an influence on purchasing decisions, pushing more people to the checkout page.

#7 Be clear about delivery details

Ensure that last-minute shoppers know exactly when they need to place their orders for guaranteed delivery before Christmas. If someone isn’t sure whether their item will be shipped in time, they’ll simply look elsewhere for a brand they can rely on.

Transparency around delivery costs is important, too. Don’t surprise customers with added fees once they get to the checkout – instead, be upfront and display costs on your product pages. Customers will be less likely to abandon their carts if they’ve been properly informed in advance.

Optimising your fulfilment process, including being honest and open about delivery in your on-site messaging, has long-term benefits too. Get it right, and fulfilment can be a pretty powerful tool for transforming one-time holiday shoppers into loyal customers who keep coming back for more long after the festivities are over.

#8 Nail your CTAs

Guide shoppers through the path to conversion with clear and encouraging calls to action, or CTAs. These can have a big impact on your ecommerce conversion rate, so it’s important to take time getting them right. Here are few things to keep in mind:

  • Forget the fuss and keep your CTAs simple – deliver a clear statement that’s easy for your customers to understand.
  • Present them as clickable buttons that can be clearly differentiated from the other elements on your page.
  • Use attention-grabbing colours (as long as they fit with your branding!).
  • Set CTAs against a backdrop of uncluttered whitespace.
  • Pack a punch with short, positive command verbs that inspire action and communicate urgency, and don’t be afraid to play around with first-person framing (think words and phrases like “Buy mine now”, “Get my discount code” and “Sign me up”).
  • Test any changes you make to your CTAs so you can monitor the impact on conversion rates!

For more tips on how to create effective CTAs that convert, check out our dedicated blog post on the topic.

#9 Optimise your checkout

Another place to focus the attention of your holiday ecommerce strategy is your checkout. Consider the following tips for making your site’s payment process as quick, easy and convenient as possible (and therefore improving conversion rate):

  • Keep it short – down to one page if possible. If the process spans multiple pages, use a progress bar to guide customers through.
  • Let customers check out as guests – this can often be the most convenient option, especially in the run up to Christmas when shoppers have a long list of items to find and purchase.
  • Only show customers information they really need to see at this point – you don’t want anything that could distract them from completing the checkout process.
  • Offer multiple payment options to suit the wide range of preferences and needs that your shoppers will have.
  • Display security seals to boost consumer confidence. Trust is particularly important at this stage of the buying process when shoppers are entering their payment details.

#10 Don’t forget mobile

With small screen shopping on the rise, and soon set to hit $3.65 trillion globally3, it’s never been more important to provide a slick mobile user experience (UX) for your customers. Keep these tactics in mind for improving your ecommerce conversion rate on mobile this holiday season:

Optimise for speed

Use speed analysis tools to isolate any issues with mobile loading times, then take time to work through these. Try to avoid heavy media files and instead stick to one optimised hero image. You should also keep detailed plugins to a minimum to help ditch the digital weight.

Keep your mobile navigation simple and intuitive

Clunky and cluttered nav menus spell disaster for conversion rates – keep things clean and condensed instead.

Tucking everything away in a hamburger menu not only looks neat, but it stops shoppers from feeling overwhelmed with choices. Leading shaving subscription retailer Friction Free Shaving has done exactly this, creating a frictionless mobile nav experience that lives up to their brand name.

What’s more, an image-based navigation will help customers make quicker decisions and find what they’re looking for more easily – contributing to a much better mobile UX.

Create effortless mobile checkout forms

Today’s time-poor consumers will be quickly turned off by long and complex mobile checkout forms that are difficult to fill out. Limit mobile forms to the most essential fields and remove any unnecessary space that requires a user to scroll, as this adds an opportunity to abandon the checkout process.

#11 Test the impact on your conversion rate

Remember, whenever you want to make changes to your ecommerce site, you should be measuring the impact of these on your conversion goal with A/B/n and multivariate tests. Take the guesswork out of your holiday ecommerce strategy and let your test data do the talking instead!

Wrapping up 🎁

There you have it, our gift to you – 10 ways to improve your online store’s conversion rate over the 2021 holiday season! We hope you can use these strategies to transform browsers into buyers this Christmas and boost all the metrics that matter.

Don’t stop there though. By nurturing shopper relationships into the new year and beyond, you can convert holiday shoppers into loyal customers that keep coming back for more – after all, customers aren’t just for Christmas, they’re for life.

Your conversion rate optimisation agency

We’re lucky to have several experienced CRO experts in our Growth Accelerator team, all passionate about combining creativity and innovation with commercially-guided strategy and data-driven testing to deliver exceptional results for our clients. In fact, did you know that Swanky was crowned conversion rate optimisation agency of the year at the 2021 Digital Growth Awards?!

To find out more about our CRO services and how we could help unlock your ecommerce potential, contact our team of Shopify Plus Experts today.


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