So now that holiday season is just about upon us, what can we do to maximize holiday conversions in our eCommerce stores? There are a lot of ways to improve eCommerce conversions in general, so we’ll go through some slight changes you can make to get the most out of this holiday shopping season.
First, I hope you’ve been paying attention to our series of articles on launching (or rethinking) your site and its setup. The most important thing you can do to improve eCommerce conversions and ensure that customers purchase from you is make sure that there’s no hiccups in the shopping process. While it’s probably too late in the season to change hosting services before you get hit with a lot of shoppers (unless, hey, you love to take risks — like base jumping without a parachute or something), you can make sure that your site is prepared to handle increased traffic and sales volume, and ready to convert new customers.
For example, do you have a valid SSL? If new customers visit your site, you don’t want to lose conversions because trust isn’t high enough. Purchasing an OV or EV SSL certificate takes a couple of days and only $100-$150. You should also consider ensuring that email marketing campaigns are prepped. If you have an email list already, consider sending out some Cyber Monday email promotions (if you use MailChimp, you can split test them for performance with a small group first to maximize conversions when you include the entire list).
If you have a wishlist plugin/extension, invite customers to add items to their carts / lists in preparation for sales. They’d probably wait until then to buy anyway, but this way you have them engaged and excited. Don’t forget to send a reminder email so that they return to complete the purchase. If you don’t already have an email list, that’s okay! Collecting emails during checkout can be useful, as you can send out last-minute offers before the holidays (or after when you clear out extra inventory) to encourage repeat purchases from you before the season ends.
Got Some Other Tips to Improve eCommerce Conversions?
A lot of other eCommerce sites have posted holiday tips, so we’ll summarize a few of the good ones, and add some that are WordPress-specific to help you boost conversions from holiday shoppers.
- Most general tips for the holiday season remind you to make sure inventory is stocked and ready to go. Chances are you’ve already done this, but one thing I’ve seen people forget it to stock up on shipping supplies and other items that I call “support inventory”. Don’t forget that you need enough stuff to sell, but that you also need to get it to the customer! Looking for other general tips like this? Check this Practical eCommerce article out.
- If you can, provide delivery estimates and faster shipping options. If people find that they don’t know if their gift will arrive in time, they’ll probably buy somewhere else.
- If you can offer free shipping, offer it. We’ll talk about doing this in the WordPress section below, but if you can set minimum price limits for free shipping, or increase product prices to offer free shipping across the board, do it. WooCommerce, WPeC, EDD, and Jigoshop all allow you to bulk edit product prices, so you can increase prices to make up for shipping easily (though you probably won’t need to worry about this with EDD 😉 ) I know some people don’t like offering free shipping if you have to inflate product price, so I’d prefer to set cart minimums if possible.
- Order Accuracy is important. At this time of year, everyone is on a deadline and can’t afford to have orders screwed up. Offering a guarantee of order accuracy reduces barriers to purchase.
So now let’s talk WordPress specifics for increasing eCommerce conversions.
- Let’s go back to the free shipping idea. Everyone else will be offering it, and you can too without hurting your bottom line. First, you can increase all product prices (regular and sale) by a small margin to cover shipping costs, then make shipping free. For example, if you use Exchange, you’ll have to use this method, as free shipping is set per product and not for the entire store. If you’d prefer to set a minimum purchase limit for free shipping instead of increasing prices, you can also increase your average order value. Either approach can help you convert without eating a lot of costs.
Using the second method usually requires changes to your shipping settings or the creation of a coupon that provides free shipping with minimum amount, and can be done with most platforms. You can display a banner with the free shipping coupon to advertise the order minimum. For example, you can achieve this in WooCommerce under the Shipping Settings:
- Now let’s talk about increasing Average Order Value. One way to do this is to offer amount or quantity discounts based on items or total cart value. Increasing value for a single order is more effective than obtaining new customers and shipping to different places, so increasing average order value is a low-hanging fruit we can all try to pick. Here are some tips for doing this with different plugins:
- Using WooCommerce? Coupons can be configured to offer a discount for an order if a cart total is above a certain amount with rules for exclusions, etc. If you want to offer quantity discounts, the Dynamic Pricing extension will be helpful, as you can set tiered pricing levels (and can set price by membership as well).
- Using EDD? Discount codes can be configured similar to WooCommerce to offer a discount for an order if a cart total is above a certain amount. You can also create quantity discounts using the Volume Discounts add-on.
- Cart66 also allows you to create cart discounts for both amounts and quantities, and you can set minimum amounts/quantities for coupon usage from your Cart66 Cloud dashboard.
- WPeC allows you to set quantity discounts from the product editor for a single product, but not for any cart quantity. There’s a relatively new plugin called Pricing Deals for WPeC that seems to have a lot of discount / coupon functionality, but I haven’t tried it.
- Jigoshop discount rules are similar to WooCommerce — coupons can be configured to offer a discount for an order if a cart total is above a certain amount with rules for exclusions, etc.
- Shopp has really flexible coupon rules with conditional logic (similar to Gravity Forms) that allow you to set both amount and quantity discounts for the cart.
- eCommerce conversions can also be improved by applying to a scarcity mentality. Make sure you display stock limits if your plugin allows it, but you can also try setting time limits on coupons or sales to increase buyer urgency.
- Using WooCommerce, you can achieve this by using the Cart Notices extension, which allows you to display the price needed to get free shipping or the deadline to purchase before a sale ends/shipping today ends. You can also display notices about discounts with Dynamic Pricing using the Conditional Content extension.
- Jigoshop lets you do something similar to Groupon with the Limited Time Deals extension. However, this displays the product for a certain time, rather than encouraging to buy for a discount / fast shipping.
- How else can you increase order value? Make sure you’re taking advantage of cross-sells and upsells, and that you’ve kept them up-to-date in your product catalog or plugin.
- In WooCommerce, you can set other products to cross-sell or upsell under “Product Data”. If you leave this blank, products from same tag/category will be displayed as cross-sells (enable this under your settings). You can cross-sell items in a shopping cart using the Cart Add-ons extension.
- You can create cross-sells and upsells in Easy Digital Downloads via the EDD Cross-sells and Upsells add-on, which lets you cross-sell related products at checkout, or upsell on the product pages.
- WPeC has a few related products add-ons, but nothing that allows you to customize cross-sells or upsells that I could find.
- Jigoshop also has an extension for upsells and cross-sells that allows you to upsell on product pages or cross-sell in the checkout process.
- How else can you increase value for customers? If you offer incentives, such as loyalty points, you can increase the chance that customers will purchase from you, even if your prices are slightly higher than a competitor. Customers are also less likely to switch to a different store if they’ve already accrued loyalty points with you (leverage loss aversion!).
- Last, you can try to recover sales. Cart abandonment is something we’re all used to, as some customers add items just to check out total costs and leave. However, re-engaging those customers with notifications or emails could result in easy conversions.
- WooCommerce has an extension called Cart Reports that allows you to see which customers have abandoned their carts so that you can email them to re-engage them. I’ve found that including a token offer, such as a 5% off coupon, helps with this. Just don’t do it all the time or people expect it ;).
- Easy Digital Downloads has an add-on that automates this process a bit for you called Sales Recovery, which allows you to automatically send re-engagement emails to customers who’ve abandoned their purchases and optionally include discounts to encourage order completion.
Have some tips of your own or great plugins for improving conversions? Share in the comments!