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How to Increase Online Sales During the Holidays

by Mallory Whitfield

September 25, 2018 / Updated: September 12, 2023

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner. Are you wondering how to increase online sales this holiday season? Luckily for you, I recently attended Shopify’s Shop Class in New Orleans where Shopify expert Samantha Murray shared some great tips on preparing your ecommerce store for the holidays and making more money during the busiest shopping season of the year.

Now is the time to get your online shop ready for holiday sales.

Samantha recommends that you kick your marketing plan into high gear at least 6-8 weeks before the holidays. Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to boost your online sales, and she suggests emailing your list once a week.

Now is also the time to make sure your shop is ready to handle the increased web traffic during the holiday shopping season. Shoppers are impatient and won’t be willing to wait for slow-loading web pages. Use a page-speed performance tool like Pingdom or Google’s PageSpeed Insights to see how fast your website loads on mobile devices and desktop computers. These tools will also provide you with tips on how to make your website load faster.

You’ll also want to make sure your shop is set up to ship out a large volume of orders. Throughout the Shopify Shop Class event, it was repeatedly recommended to use the carrier-calculated shipping rates feature, to make sure that you don’t lose money on shipping and to build customer trust. Since shoppers can see the most accurate shipping rates during the checkout process, they’ll know that you aren’t overcharging them for shipping.

If you haven’t already done it, now is the time to plan your sales and new product launches for the holidays. She suggests that instead of doing one big sale all weekend long during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, break the holiday weekend up into different daily deals and specials.

If you are planning a new product launch or releasing a new collection during the holidays, focus on that for one of your daily deals. For example, if you are releasing a new jewelry collection or you will have a limited-edition holiday fragrance for your bath and body products, instead of offering 25% off site-wide during Black Friday, focus your discount only on your new collection.

If you have a best-selling product that happens to make a great gift idea, choose one day during the holiday weekend to spotlight that item and offer a discounted price or free gift with purchase, but only for customers who buy that particular product.

Create a sense of urgency to buy.

To increase your holiday sales, create a sense of urgency to buy. Samantha recommended using one of the countdown timer apps available in Shopify’s app store to show customers how long they have left to buy before your holiday shipping deadlines.

Use language like “while supplies last” or “limited edition” to create a sense of scarcity and urgency so that your customers take action and make a purchase sooner rather than later. You can also use an app like Ultimate Sales Boost to show when there are low levels of inventory for a product.

Increase your average order amount through cross-selling, up-selling, and bundling.

One way to increase your average order amount all year long is through up-selling and cross-selling related products. Maybe you sell handcrafted soap, and customers who frequently buy your lavender-scented soap at craft shows also buy your chamomile bath salts at the same time. Using that knowledge, you’ll also want to make sure that your online customers have the chance to buy these products together too. By cross-selling each product from the related product page, your customers are more likely to add both products to their shopping carts.

Bundling is another great way to increase your average order value. If there are products that people frequently buy together, you might want to create a bundle to make it even easier for them to buy. Using the above example, you might create a “Sleepytime Relaxing Bath Gift Set” that includes your lavender-scented soap, chamomile bath salts, and a massaging body scrub. You’ll sell this bundle for a slightly discounted price compared to what it would cost for the customer to purchase each product separately.

Be strategic with discounts and free shipping offers.

Another way to start bumping up your average order amount is to be strategic with your discounts. For example, you’ve noticed from your Shopify reports that your average order amount is $55. You currently offer free shipping on all orders over $50. By increasing the minimum order amount to qualify for free shipping, you’re likely to increase your average order amount, which can lead to big increases in annual revenue. How much you increase the minimum order amount will depend on your products and your customers, but pick an amount that feels right for your business and test it out this holiday season!

Samantha also told us about The Rule of 100. It was described by Jonah Berger, a Marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business, in his New York Times bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

Use The Rule of 100 to make more sales online when offering discounts. The Rule of 100 says that under $100, percentage discounts seem larger and more appealing than absolute dollar value discounts. But for products over $100, it’s the opposite, and you should use absolute dollar value discounts rather than percentages.

The Rule of 100 says that under $100, percentage discounts seem larger and more appealing than absolute dollar value discounts. But for products over $100, it’s the opposite, and you should use absolute dollar value discounts rather than percentages. Think about it: this is why car dealerships are always offering deals that are $500 off or $2000 off your new car purchase rather than a 10% or 20% off discount.

Samantha advised us to give customers a reason for the discount. Offering a discounted price for no apparent reason could cause shoppers to think that you’re desperate or that there is something wrong with the product. When you give shoppers a reason for the discount, whether it’s “making room for new inventory” or “5th Anniversary Sale!”, it helps your customers connect with your brand and makes them more inclined to buy.

When discounting, you should make sure to set up one-time use or time-restricted coupon codes so that you can track how customers found the discount and make sure that people don’t try to get the discount after your sale period has ended.

Increase conversions with product reviews and exit intent popups.

Product reviews are a great way to get more online sales. Have you ever noticed that on Amazon, the top-selling products all have lots of great 4- and 5-star product reviews? Plenty of studies show that most people look at ratings and reviews before making a purchase, so if you’re not already including product reviews in your online shop, you could be missing out on sales.

Samantha also recommended using the exit intent popup feature in the Privy app to create a sense of urgency and reduce shopping cart abandonment. For example, if someone has added products to their cart, but then they are about to leave your website without purchasing, you can make a popup appear that will offer them 10% off their order or free shipping, but only if they complete their purchase within the next 10 minutes. Event ticketing websites like Eventbrite and Ticketmaster are great at creating this type of urgency — after you add a ticket to your cart, a countdown clock starts and says if you don’t buy your ticket within a certain number of minutes, your ticket will be released to the next guest.

You should also be monitoring your abandoned checkouts. The average rate of shopping cart abandonment across the e-commerce industry is pretty high — 69.89% — but there are ways you can recapture some of those almost lost sales. You can set up automatic emails to be sent to customers after they have abandoned their checkout, reminding them to complete their purchase if they want to. You can do this directly with Shopify or with Klaviyo (our partner link), which offers powerful automated segmentation features for ecommerce brands.

Don’t lose the momentum after Black Friday.

Shopify offers powerful reports that can give you insights into how to make more sales all year round. These reports can help you determine which products are winners and losers, whether your advertising dollars are working, and when to send your marketing emails.

Look at your sales-by-day and sales-by-hour reports to determine the most popular times that your customers shop your store. Schedule your email marketing campaigns to coincide with these days and times. Your first-time versus returning customer reports can also help you tailor your email campaigns to win back repeat customers and inform you if you need to spend more money to advertise to new customers.

Need more help getting your shop ready for the holidays?

Check out our blog post 12 Black Friday Tips For Online Shops in 2023. Our Shipshape Collective members shared their advice on preparing your shop for holiday sales, and Emily Kerr-Finell from Wholesale in a Box answered your questions about selling wholesale and getting your products into stores for the holidays.

Are you interested in finding out more about hiring help to redesign your Shopify site, or create a logo and graphic identity for your brand? Request our rate sheet!

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