9 Surefire Ways to Increase Online Sales During a Shortened Holiday Season

This year’s holiday selling season may be a little unusual, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less profitable. Check out this post to see nine ways you can make sure you’ll be raking in the big bucks this season.

Preparing for the Holiday Rush

We have good news and bad news.

The good news is that online holiday sales are expected to grow by 13-15% this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The bad news is that three events will make this a slightly unusual selling season:

  • Thanksgiving is closer to December by six days as compared to last year, meaning increased competition to get the attention of customers between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fall on the same date in 2013 (November 28).

No need to worry, though. Special times simply call for special measures, so here are some ways to capitalize on this unique selling season, and increase sales:


1. Take advantage of “Thanksgivukkah”

According to PriceGrabber’s 2013 Winter Holiday Shopping Survey, when Hanukkah shoppers were asked how the holiday falling over Thanksgiving would affect their shopping plans, 31 percent said they’d choose to buy a few gifts prior to the holiday and then take advantage of deals after Thanksgiving. When Hanukkah shoppers were asked their strategy for finding deals for Hanukkah shopping, 50 percent said they would look for retailers running early sales.

Running an early sale is a great way to attract Hanukkah shoppers, and get sales. ScanMyPhotos.com, an Irvine, Calif., company that specializes in photo transfer services, made October 21 its “Hanukkah-friendly” Cyber Monday, saying it would hate for Jewish shoppers to miss out, for those who couldn’t wait until the formal Cyber Monday of December 2.


2. Increase email marketing to customers – and start earlier

We’ve seen holiday ads earlier than ever this year, some even before Halloween.

So start sending holiday emails out now.  You can offer “Hanukkah-friendly” emails with a promotional message, a sneak peek of new items for loyal customers and discounts for early buyers and loyal customers.


3. Create a landing page for holiday gifts or a gift guide

Shoppers have less time this year, and this makes it easier for them to find gifts.  Plus, creating a landing page using “holiday gifts” or “gift guide” as keywords will help with search engine rankings.


4. Offer free shipping

According to a May 2013 comScore report, free shipping is the number one feature for consumers shopping online. Almost half of respondents chose it as the ‘most important’ service/factor offered by online retailers.

Bottom line: Free shipping is becoming a holiday standard.  If you charge for shipping during the holidays, you might lose customers to your competition.


5. Display a shipping calendar. (You can use this infographic if you’d like)

One of the top concerns of online shoppers is making sure their gift gets to the recipient before the holidays.  By offering a shipping calendar, you’ll help alleviate their worries and decrease the time you spend on customer service.


6. Make your site mobile-friendly

This year, mobile devices will account for 16% of U.S. retail ecommerce sales, amounting to $41.68 billion in sales, according to eMarketer.

Launching a mobile-optimized version of your website will ensure that you don’t lose mobile customers.


7. Include product videos on your site

If you think it’s a waste of time to add videos to your site, take a look at these statistics from Invodo:

  • Shoppers who watched video are 174% more likely to purchase than viewers who did not
  • Consumers watch product videos 60% of the time
  • 1 in 2 are less likely to return a product after viewing a video

Plus, search engine-optimized videos are highly ranked on search engines, which will also help new customers find you.


8. Spend

A tried and true marketing rule is to spend marketing dollars when you make the most money.  For etailers, that’s the fourth quarter.  Since you’re busy dealing with products and orders, outsourcing some or all of your increased marketing activities is a smart move.


9. Increase your social media efforts

Now is the time to spend time and/or money increasing your social media presence and holiday promotions.

More than half of etailers (54.8%) will increase their use of Facebook in November and December, 59.5% will increase their use of Pinterest, and 55.0% will increase their use of Instagram, according to the October 17, 2013 results released in the shop.org eholiday survey.

Promotions, discounts, contests and videos are the order of the day for social media postings.


Fret not, you can combat the shorter holiday shopping season and take advantage of the projected online shopping growth by implementing these tips. Who knows, you might turn what could be one of the most of a challenging season you’ve faced into the most successful.



robert-color-400Robert Gilbreath is the VP of Marketing at Austin-based start-up ShipStation. He was previously VP of Ecommerce Marketing at Internet Retailer Top 500 Calendars.com. When not leading efforts to share ShipStation with those in need of such a service, he loves spending time outdoor with his family.

One Response to “9 Surefire Ways to Increase Online Sales During a Shortened Holiday Season”

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