In this article, discover 12 clever Christmas ecommece setups that ring in the sales during the 2021 holiday season – plus 2 bonus tactics you can implement as you transition into Q1.
Just like the battle for the best tearjerker ad, the competition for the best ecommerce Christmas setup is traditionally a fierce one.
However, we all know the competition for digital real estate is steeper than ever this year. Physical stores continue to stay closed or are functioning at more limited capacities, which means ecommerce is mostly everyone’s one-stop-shop for holiday gifting. With so many brands now competing to bring in more Christmas sales – plus a higher volume of consumers ordering online which impacts factors like bounce rate, shipping times and returns – how can brands offer standout experiences that keep customers onsite and offer the same unforgettable experience they expect year-round?
Here’s a little secret: All it takes is a few quick and clever setups to turn your ecommerce business into a merry sales driver. Additionally (fine, two little secrets), with the right setups in place, you can even transform some of these tactics into Q1 sales opportunities that offset the traditional new year slump.
Here 12 of our favorite Christmas ecommerce setups to help you get started, plus 2 bonus tactics you can implement as you transition into Q1.
1. Personalize Christmas Shopping Based on Gift Recipient
Most of your customers are browsing gifts for other people, so your Product Recommendation strategy doesn’t necessarily need to be personalized at this time. Christmas is a time for inspiration, so lend your shoppers a hand by displaying what other customers have viewed or purchased during the holiday season. This creates a sense of social validation and also increases FOMO (or ‘fear of missing out’ – which we’ll cover in a later section).
There are many ways to work with Product Recommendations for your Christmas ecommerce setup – such as using filters based on categories, product tagging, prices or whatever specific filter makes sense for your store. Display as many of these recommendations possible (but still in a structured and navigation-friendly way).
One clever tactic is to create one recommendation slot that caters to the gift recipient. For example, if the user is looking for a gift for mom/dad, it makes sense to exclude products and gift ideas geared towards children.
By distinguishing recommendations based on the gift recipient, not only do you save your shoppers time browning irrelevant products, but you’re also helping guide them towards items that speak most to what they’re looking for – which also decreases the chances of them bouncing to another website.
2. Highlight Your Best Christmas Offers on Your Homepage
When scouring the web for Christmas gifts, we’re all looking for an irresistible offer to inspire a gift idea. Similarly, Christmas is a time when most retailers roll out the red carpet when it comes to how they promote their products to holiday shoppers.The Homepage is a great place to showcase the best of the best Christmas offers to make sure your shoppers see them upon entering your site. Whether you’re including a roundup of enticing specials (like in Beerhawk’s homepage, pictured below) or focusing on one specific offer, make sure this information is visible on key pages of your site so your shopper’s don’t miss them.
3. Maximize Your Category Page Space with Relevant + In-stock Products
The first rule of effective use of Category pages is that you shouldn’t waste real-estate. Space on this page is limited, so you want to use that effectively.
We recommend that you hide your “out of stock” products or demote them to the end of the page or category. This is so important for the shopping experience: As a shopper hunting for the perfect gift, there’s nothing more off-putting than browsing through pages and pages of out of stock products.
Even worse is landing on a Category page through a paid ad and seeing that everything that was promoted in the ad, is now out of stock. Needless to say, that traffic will usually bounce.
Another effective use of Category page space is promoting the products that are most likely to increase conversion, followed by shifting your most reviewed products to the top of the page. This tactic is twofold: not only are you promoting the items that shoppers interact with most, but you’re also increasing social proof by showing prospective buyers that your products are tried and true.
If you have a category specific for gifts, make sure you highlight those as well! Here are some examples and the benefits they offer:
- Most popular products: Boosts social validation and trust
- Most relevant within category: Saves time for last-minute shoppers
- High margin products: Offers the most bang for your buck
- High quality products: Results in happier shoppers and gift receivers
4. Offer Product Bundles to Drive Package Deals
A quick ‘add to cart’ button has the power to steer even the latest of last-minute shoppers. And not only is this a useful setup to attract customers who are late on their gifting, but it also makes it easier for any customer to increase spend and order value as they browse your products.
For example, say you’re a fashion store selling handbags and display a bundle of ‘complete the look’ products (like a keychain and a wallet) on a PDP. By adding a button that allows the shopper to add these two additional products to their cart without having to visit each individual PDP, you’re removing an additional barrier to purchase while adding a new opportunity to drive higher AOV.
As a bonus perk, you can even offer a discount for purchasing the entire bundle of products.
5. Clearly Outline Shipping and Return Info Prior to Purchase
There are some things you don’t want your customers to miss when browsing your store – for example, the last possible date to order and receive products before Christmas.
Make it impossible for your shoppers to miss their last chance to order from your website! Display these messages on multiple pages of your site so it’s in front of the customer – particularly on the front page, PDPs and on the checkout page. You can even show a pop-up with an “important message” as soon as the shopper lands onsite.
Knowing that delivery before Christmas is a possibility can be the persuasion your last-minute shoppers needs to complete their purchase and choose your store instead of bouncing to a competitor.
If you’re selling in more than one region or country and offer a variety of delivery options, you can create segments based on shopper location to then deliver personalised content around delivery dates to each customer.
This tactic also applies to return policies. If you offer a longer return policy for Christmas gifts, it’s great to communicate that as it shows shoppers that they have more flexibility with their purchases.
Transition into Q1: Remain transparent with post-Christmas delivery delays
Still have a backlog of holiday orders to get to? Add a personal message on your website to reassure your customers. Many retailers this year are anticipating a higher influx of online orders – which equals a delay in their usual shipping schedules.
Be transparent about these delays and let the shopper know that you’re still hard at work at getting their order out after the holidays. A little honesty goes a long way in securing trust (and longtime customers).
Below is an example of what Ruroc’s co-founder communicated to shoppers on their website after their massive Black Friday sales turnout:
6. Communicate Shipping Timelines/Delays via an Overlay Pop-up
To build on the shipping info tactic, an alternative way to remain transparent with your customers is by using an overlay pop-up to communicate any current shipping timelines or delays.
Whether the shopper has just missed the window to receive the order before Christmas or shipping times are longer than usual, displaying this information in an overlay-pop up ensures that your shoppers see this information and the expectation is set as soon as they enter your website. Here’s an example of how Champion sets the expectation for their customers as soon as they land onsite:
Alternatively, Display a Homepage Banner with a Shipping Message
While this example of Donald Russell’s homepage banner doesn’t show an exact shipping date before Christmas, it does play on one of the most influential tactics in ecommerce conversion: the power of FOMO. Shoppers are urged to place their orders ASAP as delivery slots are limited, which is a clever way of steering an indecisive customer towards checkout faster.
7. Increase Product Discovery With a Fun Virtual Christmas Calendar
Nothing puts people in the holiday shopping spirit like an engaging advent calendar that offers them a new gift every day. Brands can even use them onsite to add a bit of fun to site navigation and increases product discovery.
Encourage your customers to browse and shop new products by launching a virtual advent calendar where they can interact with a new item everyday. This adds a touch of gamification to their site experience and also helps you drive more conversion and sales in the process.
In the below example, Tectake’s advent calendar allows shoppers to ‘open a door’ each day which contains a unique product recommendation.
Bonus tip: Make sure shoppers can find your Christmas calendar by displaying it in a homepage banner that makes it front and center when anyone enters your site.
Eager to save more time and effort? Schedule your Christmas calendar marketing campaign ahead of time so you can focus on other holiday sales tactics. Learn how to streamline your campaign with Nosto’s Scheduling feature.
8. Drive the Christmas Sales Home by Injecting Urgency and Social Proof in Messaging
It’s common knowledge that consumers trust the decisions and opinions of other consumers more than they do their own. To play on this fact, display a message alongside your products that reveals how many other people bought this particular product within a given time frame (can be that same day or within the last hour – up to you).
This tactic can be incorporated in a number of other ways – such as displaying a live feed of what other users are viewing and communicating how many products are left in stock. By doing so, shoppers show a greater interest and urgency, which results in faster routes to checkout.
Continue reading: Check out 5 examples of FOMO marketing tactics that create urgency, attract more shoppers to checkout and play on the psychology of ecommerce.
9. Display Coupon Codes on the Homepage to Increase the Savings (and the Sales)
Some retailers prefer to keep their coupon codes more lowkey, only offering them to shoppers who fall within a certain segment (such as those with affinities to discounts, or loyal customers).
If you’re promoting a Christmas offer via a coupon code to all of your shoppers, consider displaying them on a homepage banner to make it the first thing a shopper sees as soon as they land onsite. Alternatively, you can also display the code on PDPs as an extra selling point to add to cart.
10. Use a Pop-up Banner to Showcase Enticing Holiday Discounts
We all love a good Christmas shopping discount and the truth is that most (if not all) online retailers offer some form of a discount during one of the busiest shopping dates of the year.
How you display this discount can be what helps you stand out from other brands – and one way to do so is by using a variation of the traditional pop-up.
Pop-up banners are the less ‘in your face’ sibling of traditional pop-ups and can be a way to switch up the way you promote holiday discounts in your online store. They can be placed either at the top of the page or move with the customer as they navigate the page. While pop-ups aren’t known for their subtlety, they’re an increasingly popular way to get the message across to your shoppers. However, if you want to keep your pop-up use as lowkey as possible, a banner would be the way to go.
Transition into Q1: Increase conversion and order value without increasing discount percentages
This tip is unrelated to pop-ups, but completely related to discounts. Many retailers depend on heavy discounts after the holidays to move excess inventory – often at the cost of precious margin at a time when business is already slow. Instead of promoting a discount, switch things up by offering flexible payment options.
11. Showcase a Top 100 Gift List to Inspire Indecisive Gift Givers
Top 100 gift guides are all the rage in online holiday shopping and are often a focus point for consumers who still have no idea what to buy for their loved ones.
To guide them towards the perfect gift, display a round-up of your most popular/ most reviewed products to give shoppers a vast choice of gift ideas to choose from. Of course, you can always curate the number of items you show (so you can keep the list smaller if you’re working with a lower sku count or simply prefer to push a specific and smaller set of products).
12. Feature Authentic Customer Content of Your Products (and Make it Shoppable)
In a recent study, 80% of consumers say they would be more likely to purchase a product from an online store if the website featured user-generated content (UGC) in the form of photos and videos. Furthermore, 71% of consumers say they would be more likely to buy from an online store if the brand made it easy to ‘click-to-buy’ from an inspirational image.
The content generated by your own customers is not only more authentic than commercially-produced content, but it inspires people to buy. Adding a shoppable element to freely available content can make it even more impactful on your ecommerce sales.
For example, Lush Cosmetics took its holiday marketing strategy to a whole new level when it added UGC across its homepage, and also, transformed social images from real customers into shoppable pieces of content.
Adding interactive ShopSpots to rights-approved customer content helped to prompt quick purchasing decisions for gift-giving shoppers, or those just treating themselves.
What’s Next? Get a Head Start on Your Q1 Setup
Q1 is one of the most challenging quarters in ecommerce; with higher-than-usual return rates, overstock on certain products, high abandoned cart rates, segments of shoppers who go ignored, and heavy discounts that put a damper on margin. Not to put a damper on the festive season, of course – but the last few weeks of the year are a critical time to make sure you’re all set to kick off the new year.
In a year where every sale counts more than ever, make sure you’re prepared for what’s to come in the new year. by checking out our webinar that features tactics to prepare for Q1 2021.