How to Grab Last Minute Holiday Shoppers: Tips from the Trenches

Help your online business grab more last-minute holiday ecommerce sales with these tips.

A recent survey shows that the majority of consumers have yet to finish their holiday shopping for a multitude of reasons. With the ecommerce holiday rush picking up speed, check out these different ideas from online merchants to bring in these last-minute purchases.

Good news continues for this year’s holiday ecommerce season. This week, comScore released figures showing that the online sales for 2010 reached $23.82B as of December 14, an increase of 12% compared to the corresponding days of 2009.

Even better, a recent survey revealed that 65% of shoppers have yet to complete their holiday shopping. And with only one week remaining, it’s a safe bet that several of these last-minute shoppers will turn to the internet to round out their gift list.

But why the delay? Here’s what comScore’s survey respondents had to say:

“What is the main reason you have not finished your holiday shopping?”

  • 33%: I don’t have the money to get the gifts I want
  • 32%: I haven’t had the time to finish shopping
  • 11%: I’m waiting to get better deals at the last minute
  • 8%: I haven’t been able to find the gifts I want
  • 7%: Other
  • 6%: I like the thrill of last-minute shopping
  • 3%: None of the above

After looking at this data, some basic conclusions can be drawn:

  1. Consumers will be awaiting their last paycheck before Christmas to buy their final gifts
  2. Time-strapped customers will turn online to quickly find and purchase presents
  3. Bargain hunters are looking for discounts and will rely on coupon sites and product comparison sites for the best deals
  4. Niche products that are hard to find in retail stores will be see an increase in online purchases


So now that we know last-minute shoppers’ buying behavior during these final days, how can you make the most of your time? After running a poll on our Facebook page, our merchants shared their strategies, straight from the trenches:

  • “My main strategy is to respond to every customer’s email or request call as soon as possible. If it is via phone the goal is to get to every call as soon as possible and if messages are left then return them within the same business day where possible and time zones permitting.”
    – John, SharpHID
  • “We will be offering a promotion for FREE EXPEDITED SHIPPING in the USA to all customers that order before December 20! It’s our special Christmas gift to our customers.”
    – Isaac, The Bead Chest
  • Added a headline in our cart saying to order by 12/20 for ground delivery, and added expedited shipping.”
    – Brad, Grill Grate
  • “We’re offering free shipping upgrades and gift card promotions. E.g., buy a $25 gift card and we’ll add another $5 to the total.”
    – Christina, Golf4Her
  • Using a script on all our pages to count down the days for standard and express shipping to meet customer’s holiday deadline.”
    – Sharbel, Feel Foxy
  • “Still uploading our new site and gaining customers.”
    – Jenn, Check Meowt
  • “We’re offering Free Shipping on all orders of $60 or more, and Take an Extra 25% off all orders of $100 or more…these two offers are valid until the end of the year.”
    -Eloise, The Wright Family Store LLC
  • Added Google Checkout to make it quicker and easier for our shoppers to purchase all our lovely wooden toys!”
    – Lewis, Baby Republic
  • Free rush shipping and holiday deals banner/page”
    – Flavius, Allen Ave.
  • “We are offering Free Shaker Bottles with every Gift Card Purchase, as well as Free Priority Mail Shipping on the gift card!”
    – Chad, Tiger Fitness
  • “We are offering free shipping and 20% off for the Holidays!”
    – Jimmy, Derma Shoppe
  • Free shipping on everything in our store, coupon code: QWERTY”
    – Rod, QWERTY Gadgets
  • “ is offering a 15% discount to our Facebook fans!”
    – Tonya,
  • Sending personal thank yous to our “Repeat” customers for their loyal business.”
    – Andrea, Repeat Possessions


As you can see, free shipping is one of the most preferred tactics among our respondents, along with other major online retailers around the world. Another helpful tip is to tell customers the final day they can purchase for shipment to arrive on time.

Whatever the case, online sales will continue to break records throughout this next week. Make sure you do something, such as following the tips above, to rake in those last-minute deals. Special thanks to our valued clients for sharing their ideas!

Happy holiday selling!
-Matt Winn, Online Communications Specialist, Volusion


Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

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