Here Come the Holidays, Part Two: Impressions and Promotions

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Yesterday, we kicked off our three-part series about getting your store ready for the holidays with tips for getting organized for the holiday shopping season. Today’s post offers tips for impressing your customers and planning your promotions, and suggests tools to use that can help you get the most from your store this holiday season.

Impress your shoppers by providing a great shopping experience

There’s no better time than the holidays to impress your shoppers by setting expectations, making your store easy to shop from, and providing excellent customer service. When customers can easily find the products they’re looking for, information about shipping and returns, and your contact information, you’re creating a shopping experience that can bring you repeat business.

Here are a few suggestions for how you can achieve this:

  • Set customer expectations. Let customers know about important shipping deadlines by publishing a holiday calendar. Be sure to emphasize "order by" dates. This helps your customers know that you’re prepared and ready to deliver for them this holiday season.

  • Be clear and upfront about your return policies. This can help you earn the trust of your customers, and can also make customers confident that they’re buying from a business that cares.

  • Make it easy for customers to contact you. Make sure your phone number and email address are easy to find. If you spell out part of your phone number using letters, you should also prominently list the numbers these letters represent.

  • Reach out to your customers. Let past customers know about new products and seasonal discounts ahead of time. If you’re using our Customer Registration system, use your order data to set up targeted promotions for customers who have purchased certain products in the past, and to offer special discounts for your top customers.

Create targeted promotions using your customer data
Create targeted promotions using your customer data

  • Create gift guides. We all know how difficult finding gifts can be, so help your customers out by pointing out the perfect gifts for the people on their lists. You can use gift guides to showcase your most popular items and newest products, and to group items by price point or product category. If you’re stuck for what items to feature, dig into your site reports and web analytics to identify your most popular product pages and what customers are searching for when they land on your site. Remember to review your best-selling items from last year’s holiday season.

  • Offer gift sets. Not only does this help guide customers to the perfect gift for someone on their list, it’s also a smart way to help you increase order values. For more about gift sets, see a previous post to the blog, "Giving the Gift of Increased Order Size to Yourself."

  • Help out last minute shoppers. If you have a Merchant Solutions Standard or Professional account, or a Yahoo Store account, you can offer gift certificates for last-minute shoppers and customers who are truly stuck for what to buy. Be sure to feature these in a place where customers can easily find them.

  • Do the gift-wrapping for your customers. If you’re able to offer a gift-wrapping service for customers without delaying shipments, you may want to consider offering your customers the convenience of gift-wrapping their items for them. The gift wrap option can be enabled in your store checkout using Checkout & Registration Manager. If you wish to charge a fee for this service, you can also set up this fee here.

Use promotions and recommend items

Holiday promotions are key to driving customers to your store, and your promotions shouldn’t stop there. Cross-sell promotions on your product and cart pages can help encourage customers to order more from your store. If you’re planning your promotions and are stuck for ideas, consider the following:

  • Offer daily deals. By offering a new deal each day, you can entice customers to return to your store throughout the holiday season. Remember to promote your daily deals through social media, email, and in your PPC campaigns.

  • Create coupon offers for before and after purchases. Encourage past customers to return to your store during the holidays by creating and sending single-use coupons. Or help drive both existing and new customers to your store by creating a standard coupon and advertising the coupon code through social media, email, in your PPC campaigns, and on your site. And don’t forget to earn your customers’ repeat business after the holidays have ended. Sending holiday customers a coupon early into the new year can help entice them to order from you again.

  • Cross-sell on your product pages and cart page. Our Cross-Sell feature is included with Merchant Solutions Standard and Professional accounts, and Yahoo Store accounts. The holiday season is a great time to use Cross-Sell to promote stocking stuffers, product accessories, and other great accompanying items. If you sell items that require batteries, consider cross-selling the required-size batteries with these items. And don’t forget, Cross-Sell’s auto-suggest feature can help you boost sales by providing automated item suggestions.

  • Dig into your data to optimize your site and holiday promotions. As we’ve mentioned, our Customer Registration system can give you the valuable data you need to optimize your store promotions. If you’re not already using Customer Registration, enabling it before the holiday shopping season will allow you to collect a wealth of customer data that you can use to improve your promotional campaigns throughout the year. If you’re a Merchant Solutions Standard or Professional merchant, or have a Yahoo Store plan, you can use your Yahoo Web Analytics data to make changes to your site and promotions to help boost your sales.

  • Offer free shipping. As discussed in a previous blog post, free shipping is "The Gift That Can Give You More Sales." Shoppers are on the hunt for free shipping during the holidays and year-round. Learn about the different types of free shipping offers you can provide, and how to plan your free shipping promotions without breaking the bank.

  • Let your customers spread the word. Earlier this year, we released the Social Media Sharing feature for merchants using Editor 3.0 templates. When you enable Social Media Sharing for your store, you let your customers share information about your products with their social networks on Twitter and Facebook. Social Media Sharing facilitates free, trusted advertising for your store that can help you gain new customers.

The Social Media Sharing feature lets customers share information about your products to their social networks
Social Media Sharing lets customers promote your products to their social networks

We’ll be back tomorrow with more tips to help you get your store ready for the holiday shopping season. Until then, be sure to check out "Holiday Planning That Yields Big Returns," Tom Musbach’s article for our new Yahoo Small Business Advisor.

Amy Parker-Harris and Jennifer Farwell
Yahoo Small Business
Follow @YSmallBusiness on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook

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