As consumers try to socially distance themselves amid the pandemic, they are gravitating toward online shopping in unprecedented numbers. In fact, ecommerce sales jumped more than 30% in the second quarter of 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.


And that preference for online shopping is unlikely to ebb by the 2020 holiday shopping season—with many experts predicting huge growth in online holiday sales compared to last year.


For small retailers—whether brick-and-mortar or those already online—that means you need to make sure your ecommerce presence is robust this holiday season and you’re ready for an influx of online orders. Here are six things you can do right now to draw in more online holiday shopping traffic this year and ring up sales:


1. Consider the best place to sell your products

Online sellers have basically two main options: They can sell products on their own website, or they can sell through online marketplaces such as Etsy and Amazon—or both. Marketplaces generally take a commission on all sales, but they can also draw in hordes of shoppers who are already familiar with those sites. That said, you want to make sure your website visitors can easily buy directly from you, too. 


Therefore, it often makes sense to sell through both channels, says Mark Kapczynski, chief marketing officer of Gooten, an e-commerce technology platform. “Consider splitting your inventory between your website and the marketplaces to capture traffic in both places,” he says.


2. Make your online shopping experience easy (and quick)

If you’re trying to sell products on your own website, make sure the online shopping experience and checkout process are quick and easy to navigate. When someone comes to your site, consider:


  • Are the products and services available for purchase easy to find?
  • Are the item descriptions and pricing clear?
  • How quickly can someone order whatever they need?


Many small businesses use an ecommerce platform such as Shopify, BigCommerce or Wix to post products for sale. These platforms offer extra tools and integrations, so you can give your customers a robust and seamless online shopping experience. Moreover, they are designed to be mobile-friendly—which is critical for any ecommerce site today.


3.  Get your website up to speed

If you’re trying to lure shoppers to your website, you want to make sure your site can handle the extra traffic and isn’t loading too slow.


Don’t clutter it with large images or dense videos that autoplay when the page downloads, Kapczynski advises. “Most people are shopping via their smartphones, and if you have a giant video that launches automatically, your site will get hammered,” he says.


If you host your own website, you’ll want to make sure you have enough internet bandwidth to support the traffic.


4.  Improve your customer service—and consider automating it

Online shoppers prefer to buy from reputable retailers with the generous return and exchange policies (as well as fast shipping) that they often get from major retailers around the holiday season. So, in order to compete, consider your customer policies and trumpet them on your website and in any holiday promotions you do.


Likewise, make sure it’s easy for customers to contact you with any questions they may have. Some online retailers are turning to chatbots and social media chat tools to make online customer service more efficient. 


Copper H2O, an online seller of copper water bottles, uses Facebook Live Chat provided by Zotabox to engage online customers. Being immediately available to answer questions through the chat box has increased average page views, dwell time and sales, says CEO Jessica Rose. “In general, we saw a 20% increase in average page views and dwell time, and a comparable increase in conversions, after we added the chat box,” she says.


5.  Promote, promote, promote

Major retailers often roll out huge advertising campaigns and big promotions over the holiday season. That means small businesses need to compete any way they can.


Social media and search engine marketing—such as putting pay-per-click ads on Google or sponsored ads on Facebook or Instagram—can be both effective and inexpensive, Kapczynski says.


You can set daily or weekly limits on how much you’re willing to spend, and you pay only when someone clicks on your link or views your ad. On Google, for example, ads are tied to the keywords that people are searching for. For a little money, you can test which keywords drive the most traffic to your site. “Then you can use that information to focus on what works,” Kapczynski says.


6.   Engage your past customers

Also, don’t forget about the power of email marketing and engaging your past customers and prospects around the holidays. Make sure to send out emails over the holiday season promoting your online sales and perhaps providing special promotions to your email list.


“Your existing customers are the most important assets you could possibly have,” Kapczynski adds.

Print this article