US online sales expected to surpass $107 billion this holiday season; Is your website ready?

The 2017 holiday season is upon us, and if Adobe Analytics’ forecast is correct, the year’s U.S. online sales will likely top $107 billion.

Let that sink in for a second.

Here’s another astonishing figure: One of every six dollars spent this holiday season is expected to be spent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, expected to lead to $19.7 billion in sales.

Cyber Monday alone is expected to generate $6.6 billion in sales, which would make it the largest online shopping day in history. To compare, consumers spent “just” $3.45 billion online last Cyber Monday.

Whether you’re the new Shopify store on the block or a popular online retail giant, it’s time to run a quick look at your website, processes, and campaigns to make sure you make the most of what will be an incredible end to the year.

Mickey Mericle, Vice President of Marketing and Insights at Adobe, predicts that larger retailers will drive this growth by offering wide selections, easy shopping experiences, and free shipping. Savvy, small retailers have the opportunity to win by focusing specifically on mobile experience.

Your Last-Minute Checklist to Rock Cyber Monday (And Black Friday) Sales

As you prepare for an incredible influx of traffic and sales, take a moment to check over your website to minimize your stress while giving you the best opportunity to succeed and make a lot of money.

We’re offering a special Cyber Monday Prep deal to help get your website ready. Click here to get 15% off your Lucky Orange plan and see exactly what your visitors do on your website.

☑ Start now. According to National Retail Federation research, more than half of shoppers start researching and shopping for the holidays before November 1.

☑Make mobile-friendly a priority. Adobe Analytics expects desktop purchases to account for two-thirds of the holiday season with mobile serving as a starting point for many customers. Web traffic on smartphones and tablets is also predicted to be higher than for desktops, at 54 percent and 46 percent respectively. The point is that it’s time to optimize your website’s mobile experience, if you aren’t already.  Remember to keep the mobile checkout as simple and quick as possible, such as by offering a one-click checkout for returning customers. Avoid requesting excessive data from new customers.

☑Make sure you can track visitors and customers. Google Analytics isn’t going to be enough. You’re going to want more than just numbers. If you don’t have a conversion optimization solution on your website yet, get one!

☑Set up your dynamic heatmap. Even smaller websites can benefit from incorporating dynamic heatmaps. You will be able to isolate patterns, such as how mobile customers used your website different than those mobile visitors who didn’t convert, and identify problem areas quickly.

☑Run polls on your website. Polls can offer incredible insight and feedback from visitors (i.e. “Was there anything that stopped you from signing up today?”) or even boost email lists for upcoming campaigns (i.e. “Would you like to be the first to know about our big holiday sale next week?”).

☑Keep an eye on your website design, navigation, and speed. Cyber Monday and Black Friday is like the start of the Olympics, and your website needs to be an Olympian. Your website should be easy to use, attractive, and fast.  58% of shoppers will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, so making load time a priority is vital. Also, take a look at your navigation for both desktop and mobile versions, design consistency, effective copy, and where users can go for support (such as an online chat) if they run into issues.

☑Optimize forms. Spend 10 minutes reviewing your form analytics to identify any repeat fields or form validation errors to make your forms effective in driving sales and conversions.

☑Create a landing page. If you don’t have a landing page for your Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotions, now is the time to create one. This is the exclusive landing page you’ll be promoting over Thanksgiving weekend.

☑Anticipate problems. Do more than just test your website changes. Make sure a surge in traffic doesn’t crash your website by testing your server load capacity with a tool like LoadImpact.com. Also start talking with your vendors to ensure they can handle an increased demand as well.

☑Integrate live chat (today). We’ve talked about the benefits of live chat before, and now is the time to start using it. Conversions increase by as much as 20% when an online chat is offered, and more than 53% of customers actually prefer to use it rather than call or email a business.

☑Don’t worry too much about early deals. Some online retailers are starting to put out their early holiday deals now. However, not all shoppers will be tempted to bite immediately. If your competition is pushing out their deals early, don’t worry too much.

Tamara Gaffney, Adobe’s strategic insights engagement group director, told USA Today that “Everyone knows that the lowest-priced day is really going to be between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So while consumers are seeing the pre-Black Friday (sales) … online we’re definitely not seeing the growth in the first couple of weeks of November.”

☑Organize your deals (coupon code included). Strategy is everything, but don’t over complicate your deals. For example, Bird + Stone had success running a “Buy two, get one free” promotion and applying a site-wide Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale with a special 50% discount during a two-hour window.

If you don’t know where to start, start with a coupon code. It’s an easy way to jump on the Cyber Monday or Black Friday sales train.

☑Start pushing social media & building email lists today. Don’t wait until the last minute to get the buzz going. Remember, shoppers are already doing their research.

☑Get creative. An alluring advertising banner can be effective, but think outside of the box too. Create a quick gift guide. Inspire your target customer with the deals you’re planning on offering. Think of it like the big holiday toy books major retailers typically send out at the beginning of November to “help” kids start planning for their holiday wish lists.

Warning: Don’t Ignore Black Friday!

Black Friday is best known for hoards of shoppers who line up at brick-and-mortar store doors to rush – and even fight – for pre-dawn deals and discounts. Even science has tried to explain the allure!

Online retailers are starting to get in on the Black Friday action, too!

According to Fortune magazine, last year’s Black Friday’s online sales were only $110 million below those of Cyber Monday, and it’s possible that Black Friday this year could come closer to matching or even surpass Cyber Monday sales.

Let us know: Did we miss anything? How do you prepare your website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

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