In keeping with holiday traditions Shop.Org published the results of their holiday shopping survey. This year, many retailers and industry experts were hedging their bets that the slow economy would necessitate that retailers use extensive promotional offers to bring in customers and drive sales. What they found, however, was that savings didn’t top the list of what would drive purchase decisions this year.
Survey respondents were asked, “When choosing to make holiday purchases from a given online retailer, what is most important to you?” Their top five answers were as follows:
- Being able to see the shopping cart total before checkout
Surprisingly enough, consumers reported that the number one thing that would determine if they purchased from an online store or went elsewhere was whether or not they could see the total of their order before beginning to checkout.
The ability for consumers to place items in their cart, and view their total after any additional fees(such as taxes and shipping and handling) before entering their personal information topped the list of factors that would make or break their purchase decision. This sentiment is likely due to the fact that being able to get an order total without having to enter any personal information makes comparison shopping faster and more secure for customers.
Tip: If you’re requiring that customers sign up for an email list or register as a user before purchasing, you’ll definitely want to consider restructuring your checkout process before the holidays!
- Clear product descriptions
During the holidays consumers do not want to have to guess about the products they are browsing because they’re on a time schedule. They need to find which products will fit their specific gift-giving needs, order them, and get them in time for the holidays. If a product may not be exactly what they are looking for, they will not take a chance and order it anyway; they will go elsewhere and find a store that reassures them that they are getting exactly what they need.
Tip: Try to include as many product specs as you can to influence customers that are looking for something in particular. Remember, product specs are not just limited to things like size dimensions and weight; they can also include things like age ratings for toys, size suggestions for apparel, type of accessories included, etc.
- Value for the money
It’s been shown that while consumers are not solely money driven, it is a big factor when shopping. Obviously, no one wants to feel that they overpaid for a particular product, and in general, people feel satisfied when they get a deal. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to drop your prices, but it does mean that you have to demonstrate value.
Tip: Around the holidays a great way to accomplish this is by offering “gift packs.” Gift packages are seen as instant gift fulfillment for a loved one and they help you to upsell your products. Make sure when you’re making gift packages to try to include some higher margin items in order to bring in the most revenue from holiday shoppers.
- Free returns
Free returnsare a great way to entice customers because it makes their online purchase decisions less risky. By offering free returns you can greatly minimize the amount of “shopper’s anxiety” customers feel when browsing your online store.
Tip: If you don’t currently offer free returns consider trying free returns up until Christmas. If you do currently offer free returns make sure your customers know that immediately! Add a homepage graphic, header image, or mention it in your product descriptions.
- Merchant reputation
With online security issues and fraudulent scams on the rise, consumers are going to be looking for companies that have a good online reputation this holiday shopping season. Make sure that holiday shoppers know your site is secure and comes well recommended.
Tip: Customer recommendations and positive reviews are an excellent way to prove your trustworthiness, but if you haven’t been collecting those leading up to the holiday shopping season, you can toot your own horn! If your company belongs to any active business associations (like the BBB) make sure to include reference to those on your home page or in your navigation menu. Often times, using the association’s logo is the most effective way to do this.
Also, don’t forget to display your SSL seal! Not all consumers know exactly what an SSL is, but they will see that it has to do with security and that can be enough to help reassure them that your site is a legitimate business entity.
Hopefully with this insight into the minds of holiday shoppers you’ll be able to get your site ready in time for the holidays. Need more advice? Check out our forums!
-Kate Pierce eCommerce Specialist