Around the world, businesses of all sizes are gearing up to cash in on the year’s most important shopping season. The holidays ring in a flurry of spending – the average Canadian is set to spend over $1,500 this year and at least one third of holiday purchases will be done online.
Last year, digital and mobile shopping were up almost 25 per cent and more than half of holiday shoppers purchased an item that was recommended to them by the retailer’s online store. E-commerce is on the rise, supported by significant growth in the adoption of mobile shopping, and businesses need to ensure they are meeting their customers where they fill their shopping carts – and that’s online. Is your business set up for holiday selling success?
To make the most of this season, successful businesses should have a strong e-commerce strategy in place and ready to execute. To help you prepare for holiday selling success, we asked two Canadian small business owners --- Michelle Germain of Shopgirls, a bricks-and-clicks business showcasing Canadian-designed apparel and Eddy Okun of Nude Bee Honey Co., a successful honey retailer --- to share their perspectives along with our tips and tricks for the crucial months ahead.
ALIGN OFFERS WITH INTERNATIONAL SHOPPING TRENDS
Holiday shoppers are savvy spenders, willing to shop online from retailers all over the world to sneak in savings where they can. Canadian’s appetite to bag Black Friday bargains from retailers south of the border is a perfect example of this trend in action. As a result, many Canadian businesses offer Black Friday deals, even though it’s a U.S. originated shopping holiday. Looking further afield, Canadian business owners would do well to note that on November 11th, China celebrates Single’s Day which saw $17.8 billion in sales last year, making it the world’s largest online shopping day and the perfect lead-up to a busy holiday season.
Align your deals and offers with these key moments in time to capture the spending that happens globally during holiday months. Here are a few key holiday shopping dates to keep in mind when planning your promotion strategy:
• Singles Day, November 11
• Black Friday, November 24
• Small Business Saturday, November 25
• Cyber Monday, November 27
• Green Monday, December 11 (largest online sales day in December)
• Free Shipping Day, December 16 (reminder about the last day to make online orders so gifts arrive in time)
“The beauty of having an online store means you can sell to almost anyone almost anywhere in the world, which means you’re perfectly positioned to cash in on major holiday shopping moments like Singles Day,” says Germain. “Canadian-made goods are in demand and people all over the world want to buy our top-quality products, a well-timed holiday offer adds extra incentive to seal the deal.”
CHECK YOUR TECH
One of the most important steps to prepare for the holiday season is to ensure you have the right tech tools in place to support your initiatives. Technology can simplify processes and optimize results during a busy season and year-round; from automated email marketing systems to promote holiday offers, SEO marketing and social media to boost awareness of sales, or keeping payments and shipping streamlined through an integrated platform.
“We’re big proponents of social media marketing at Nude Bee Honey Co. Not only is it cost-effective for smaller operations, it’s also very effective for reaching customers at the time and place they are primed to shop – on their mobile phones,” said Okun. “Know your customers and develop content that is going to capture their attention and inspire action.”
BE MOBILE FRIENDLY
With so many Canadians opting to shop from their mobile phones, it is imperative that your website works well on a variety of mobile devices and screen sizes. To do this, you should consider building or upgrading your website to a ‘responsive’ or ‘adaptive’ platform. A responsive or adaptive website can detect the device your customer is using and automatically resize your website to work best on that device.
“A quick and easy way to test the ‘mobile friendliness’ of your site is to test it out for yourself. Be your own mystery shopper, or observe someone else navigating your site on a mobile device who hasn’t shopped with you before,” shares Okun. “You want to make sure your ‘add to cart’ and ‘checkout’ buttons are easy to find and use.”
You’re almost in the end zone; your customer has selected an item and is ready to pay, but a lengthy checkout process could turn them away before the purchase is complete. Customers like simplicity. If they can’t buy an item in a few clicks, they’ll go somewhere they can. The payment process is a big part of the final checkout experience and should be simple. Shopping cart abandonment can happen for a number of reasons, but most often it happens right before payment.
“We’ve all been there – you’re about to buy a new pair of shoes or a great new top, but your wallet is in another room and you can’t be bothered to go and get it,” says Germain. “At Shopgirls, we try to reduce this friction by offering PayPal Express Checkout which allows our customers to skip immediately to payment. There is no need to enter billing and shipping details over and over and our customers can pay using their credit card, bank account or PayPal balance.”
With the right plan in place to make online shopping quick and easy for your customers, you can make this holiday season your best one yet.
Elizabeth Prowse is the Head of Small Business Marketing at PayPal Canada. She leads a team that is dedicated to delivering content and solutions to support Canadian small business owners throughout their entrepreneurship journey. Visit paypal.ca more about how PayPal can benefit your business.