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an independent digital product firm

Monday 01 January 1900

A breakdown of the top e-commerce strategy of 2019.

Cameron Stewart, 
Director of Strategy, Dawson Andrews, 
Nov '18 | 10 Min Read

If last year is any indication, then 2018 is going to be another record-breaking holiday eCommerce season. Black Friday eCommerce alone is projected to increase by 15.31% year-over-year to $5.80 Billion in the U.S. with mobile sales expected to grow to $2.44 Billion.

With that in mind, we’ve identified a number of things you should probably be thinking about in the run up to Cyber Monday.

1. Prepare your site speed

Your goal during the holiday season is to remove every obstacle that would be in the way of turning a visitor into a buyer. One of those hurdles is a slow website. A website with a laggy load time slows down the purchasing process and increases the chance that visitors will leave your website before purchasing. In fact, a slow load time is directly related to a higher bounce rate. To avoid that demise, speed up your website before the holidays. The first way to do this is by optimising your images. Load times suffer when images don’t fit the screen that’s summoning them, or there are simply too many images on a single page. Mobile load times suffer most drastically because mobile devices don’t have the processing power of desktop computers. As motivation to optimise your images, consider how much business comes through smartphones during Cyber Monday.

That’s a lot of business you don’t want to miss.

The second way to speed up load time is to organise the CSS and Javascript on your website and to minimise the HTML, CSS, and JS files. You can learn how to organise CSS here and Javascript here. And you can minimise HTML, CSS, and JS files by using Refresh-SF.

When optimising your website's load time, just remember this: anything that your website needs to generate when a visitor arrives — images, unorganised CSS and HTML, and even an overabundance of white space — will slow your website down.

It might be by milliseconds, but that is time you can’t afford to lose.

Mobile customers are impatient and unforgiving. One second makes a huge difference in mobile commerce:

Site speed can also have a huge brand impact...

To discuss continual improvement of your eCommerce site speed and performance, book a workshop with one of our engineers and they can give you an idea of what's involved.

2. Find Tools to Solve Potential Problems

Before the holiday season, you’ll want to make sure all of the tools that can work in your favor, are working in your favor.

Here are some low-integration tools to consider using that will increase your website’s efficiency for high-volume traffic:

3. Go “Deep” for VIP Customers

You can go even bigger with discounts and offers to your best customers. The email below, offering up to 80% off site-wide, was sent to the VIP customer segment of The Elephant Pants last Black Friday:

It’s a great strategy because, according to a benchmark report by Klaviyo, highly segmented emails that go out to VIPs — that can be just 3-5% of your overall list — will way outperform the rest of the customers in your database.

4. Segment Emails Throughout

Email is still a staple of Black Friday Cyber Monday sales generation, so you must be strategic about when to send your promotional emails and to whom.

“The more segmented and targeted you send your emails to, the higher revenue per recipient you’ll generate. You’ll also see higher open rates, and higher click-through rates — helping you build and maintain a strong sender reputation,” 
— Alicia Thomas, Klaviyo

Alicia outlines 10 segments to use in order to increase sales over Black Friday Cyber Monday:

  1. Seasonal Shoppers
  2. Recent Openers
  3. VIP Customers
  4. Product Browsers
  5. Category Buyers
  6. Hasn’t Purchased (but is engaged)
  7. Email Ignorers
  8. Almost Purchasers
  9. Geographic Targets
  10. Gift Givers

For the Recent Openers, Browsers, Ignorers, Hasn’t Purchased or Almost Purchased segments, it’s vital that you offer them incentives to complete a purchase … or at least to open your damn email.

Of course, each of the offers and messages should be tailored to the segment.

For the Almost Purchasers segmentIvory Ella sent an email out to only those customers who had received their morning email but had not opened it or placed an order that day.

For Email Ignorers, try offering them free shipping or a complimentary gift with purchase. Ursa Major of VT sent the offer below at 7 pm the day after Black Friday to subscribers who did not open an email on the day of the sale.

5. Optimise Mobile-First Buying

Of all the activities people use their phones for last year, mobile shopping was the fastest growing segment — up 54% YOY. The story was a little different elsewhere, with desktop sales accounting for 44% of all traffic but still commanding 61% of sales during the 2017 holiday shopping season, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

By detecting a user’s mobile device, your offer can dynamically adapt to reflect the value of items in a customer’s cart relative to the free-shipping threshold. For example, if the first message displays “FREE SHIPPING to GLASGOW with a £50 purchase” and a user adds a £25 product to their cart, it’ll change to “YOU’RE £25 AWAY FROM FREE SHIPPING” to encourage users to buy more.

In Dawson Andrews work with Toys"R"Us we identified through A/B testing that the progress bar was a key element towards increasing cart value by offering free delivery after a certain threshold. Previously just a homepage advert it provided an ongoing reassurance that if they did spend more than £20 the discount was likely to appear in their cart.

(For a full Toys R Us breakdown - see our case study)

Blue Boost's Black Friday 2016 data revealed that iOS users for a large outdoor merchant’s site spent about $110 on average while Android shoppers had an AOV of around $85. Using device targeting, they used a page curl notification to display a 20% off coupon for orders larger than $100 for Android users while that same 20% off promotion could be applied to more expensive items for iOS users.

6. Simplify Onsite Navigation

Small details can have a huge impact. Case in point, Print Globe increased its conversions by 18.5% by optimising the navigation design for its website.

Inflow’s Best-In-Class Ecommerce Mobile Report offers some excellent best practices, including a downloadable matrix of how the top ecommerce brands measure up across a number of mobile design and optimisation criteria:

B2B branded apparel and accessories provider, Merchology, needed to quickly re-design its eCommerce site to offer a mobile-first customer experience that would make checking out on a mobile device easier.

Merchology’s team learned via its analytics data that users were switching from mobile to their desktop to check out. Two months after the redesigned mobile-first site launched, Merchology was able to offer users a faster, simplified and automated mobile checkout experience. That, in conjunction with Shopify Scripts, helped Merchology to achieve:

7. Accelerate Checkouts for Impulse Buyers

UIE’s report revealed that impulse purchases account for ~40% of all the money spent on ecommerce. To boost impulse purchases, you should reduce the effort required for a user to buy something on your site.

Alan Cassinelli, Director of Marketing at Peel, saw their conversion rate double last holiday. In his words:

“Accelerated checkouts really take advantage of the new technologies we have to purchase. It doesn’t make sense to have to re-enter the same information over and over again across all of the Internet.”

“It’s kind of like going into your favorite coffee shop, and they all already know what your order is going to be. It’s a more personal experience. You’re not just some random person on the web. It’s just more convenient and, as everyone knows, convenience is the number one driving factor of ecommerce.”

Shopify have nailed this with their Dynamic Checkout feature. It allows you to also add dynamic checkout buttons to increase mobile transactions. Once a customer has selected their preferred payment method — ApplePay, PayPal, or Amazon Pay — Shopify’s backend remembers their choice and automatically presents their choice on all future visits.

As mobile commerce continues to grow, businesses need to provide an integrated and seamless experience across all consumer touchpoints that makes multi-channel selling as natural as possible.

8. Pay for Amazon’ Attention

Roughly half of all product searches now start on Amazon, according to a recent Mary Meeker Report. Yet, there are many reasons why merchants fear Bezos’ trillion-dollar beast:

If you plan to leverage Amazon this holiday season, it pays to pay. Attention on Amazon demands a savvy strategy that includes full-scale Amazon Advertising:

Also, providing a seamless brand experience and consistent fulfilment processes for all orders should be top of mind.

9. Go Native on Social

In 2015, Facebook went beyond ads and allowed merchants to create and run native shops. Then, Pinterest added native functionality with Buyable Pins. Bots and Messenger integrations weren’t far behind.

Last year, Instagram joined the party by launching Shopping on Instagram. ORO Los Angeles seized this opportunity early and quickly achieved a 29.3% lift in month-over-month revenue directly attributable to Instagram.

10. Integrate Rewards at Checkout

Enabling customers to claim loyalty rewards directly from their cart with one click can also help grow AOVs, while seamlessly integrating with the natural user journey.

Using LoyaltyLion’s In-Cart Rewards and Instant Points, Dr. Axe reported an increase of …

11. Rescue Abandoned Carts by Any Means Necessary

Shopping cart abandonment is still high in online retail – at roughly 76% worldwide according to Statista. Email marketing has long been an important tool used by eCommerce merchants to rescue abandoned carts.

But new multi-channel, cross-device solutions, like Facebook Messenger bot ShopMessage, are growing in importance for millennials. ShopMessage, which brands like Fashion Nova and MVMT Watches, turns conversations into purchases by enabling eCommerce businesses to:

If a Pura Vida customer views a product on the website but doesn’t buy right away, Pura Vida can automatically send this customer a message on Messenger to offer a discount using ShopMessage.

It takes one click for customers to return to the checkout and see their cart reconstructed, with an automatically applied discount.

For Pura Vida, ShopMessage has generated:

Pura Vida also uses Retention Rocket to rescue abandoned carts and automate marketing through SMS – sending an average of 987 messages a day with a conversion rate of 14.6%.

12. Step Up Onsite Search

On-site search is vital to helping customers find holiday gifts online in an instant. Merchants who don’t ramp up site search over Black Friday / Cyber Monday will lose out because...

TRU's catalog of 400,000 SKU's has unique attributes such as type, age bracket, and brand; some products need to be listed under multiple names and descriptions. As a result, on-site search used to be a major challenge.

Using a Bloomreach Search integration we were able to catalogue the Toys "R" Us SKU's in a seamless way that would react to the customer's line of enquiry rather than demand them down a certain route.

TRU's investment in Search had a huge impact over the 2017 holiday season seeing overall conversion rate grow over 20%.

13. Prepare for Last-Minute Shipping

According to Dropoff’s 2018 Holiday Survey, “three out of four (77 percent) consumers plan to do last-minute shopping, which is a 15 percent increase compared to the 2017 results.” To capitalise on this opportunity, eCommerce merchants need to have a solid last-minute shipping plan.

Here are two key dates to keep in mind...

December 11: Green Monday

The term Green Monday was originally coined by eBay in 2007 – referring to the Monday that is at least ten days before Christmas. Consumers are in full swing of the holiday shopping season on this day which means it’s a great day to beef up your marketing efforts.

December 18: Free Shipping Day

During Free Shipping Day, participating eCommerce stores offer free shipping on their items and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.

14. Convert Returns into Retention

Impulse purchases are far too common during the frenzy of Black Friday Cyber Monday are the cancellation and return requests. Don’t punish customers for returning items with a complicated return policy or poor experience.

According to Return Magic, which was recently acquired by Shopify,

That’s why it’s crucial to properly display a clear return policy to earn your customers’ (who may have been burned in the past) trust.

It’s also essential to make the returns process as simple as possible to save you and your customers time and money.

These simple, yet important services are table stakes to compete with the likes of Amazon.

And since “thousands of items across hundreds of industries are expected to be returned in exchange for cash or other products” in 2018, Return Magic recommends the following tactics for a frictionless BFCM return experience:

15. Don't do anything at the expense of your brand

Black Friday / Cyber Monday are creations of the advertising industry, in a lot of cases brands are over-discounting and underselling the brand they have been building all year. Make sure all efforts on eCommerce align with your broader business goals. Use this heightened traffic to engage new customers that will buy year round, it will be a fraction of the real traffic but it is an increase none the less. Use this opportunity to build your customer base for 2019 sales and not just cash in before we all collapse beneath the Christmas tree.

Learn more

If you are serious about increasing your eCommerce performance, come visit us. If you’d like to stay updated;

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