Available data indicates that most retailers make up to almost 20 percent of their annual sales during the holiday months – e-commerce websites are no exception. If you’re responsible for the planning and execution of an online store’s holiday strategy, the time to begin is now.

Much like your brick-and-mortar counterparts, you’re going to need to know what methods will drive holiday traffic to your site, and how to convert that traffic into sales. This opportunity comes once a year and no company can afford to miss out. To help you plan, we’ve put together a guide to the best ways to generate traffic to your e-commerce website during the holidays. Follow these best e-commerce practices and succeed.

Focus on Existing Customers

The easiest way to drive additional traffic to your website for the holidays is to market directly to your existing customers. If you’ve been providing excellent service all year, reminding them to shop with you for the holidays should be easy. Consider offering things like free or expedited shipping to bring them back to see what you’ve got to offer.

In addition to bringing back existing customers, you can encourage them to spread your message for you. Studies show that up to 83 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family members, so consider offering discounts in exchange for referrals and your sales could grow by leaps and bounds!

Target Social Media

We can’t overstate how important social media has become in the online retail landscape. As millennials begin to represent a much larger share of overall purchasing power, it becomes crucial to reach them on their terms. Many even base their decisions on what to buy based on what they see on their social media feeds.

In addition to having a social media presence, you can extend your reach by purchasing paid advertising. Social media platforms are second only to television as a share of consumers’ daily media diet. The platforms you should target include:

  • Facebook
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

Take the Hassle out of the Holidays

During the holiday shopping season, consumersā€™ schedules get tight and tempers can flare. To earn additional sales, your e-commerce site must make the shopping process as pain-free as possible. To get started, consider creating a gift finder feature that can narrow down a shopper’s choices on your site based on things like price, interests, gender, age and personality type. We’ve found that holiday shoppers don’t always know what they are looking for, so your suggestions will be more than welcome.

Another way to reassure your frazzled holiday customers is to have and promote a simple, free gift return process. Making sure that your customers know that errant or duplicate gifts can be easily returned will help drive them to choose you as their go-to online retailer.

Optimize for Mobile

If you haven’t done so already, optimizing your website for mobile users is critical for maximizing your holiday sales. Last holiday season, one in five shoppers browsed retailers or made purchases on a smartphone or tablet. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly – or worse, doesn’t display correctly at all – you’ll miss out on a massive amount of sales.

Make sure your site includes features like product galleries with touch-responsive interfaces and clear, easy to read purchase buttons. If possible, you can also use location services to provide more precise shipping rates and delivery times for your would-be customers. Even consider a shopping app if you’re really looking to push into the mobile market.

Make The Most of Pressured Consumers

During the holiday season, shoppers understand that they’re under pressure to get their shopping done in time. To encourage more sales, we recommend using promotions that focus on deadlines. If you make liberal use of limited time offers like item sales and free shipping, you’ll create an impulse to buy for the customer. They’ll be likely to buy immediately since they don’t know if they’ll get a better chance before the holiday comes. You can reinforce those feelings by using visible countdown timers and low inventory reminders, which further convey a sense of urgency. We can help achieve this with a marketing plan meant to entice consumers.

We shouldn’t need to remind you that the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. If your e-commerce site hasn’t started to prepare yet, the time to act is now. Begin your social media and advertising efforts as soon as possible, since consumers are already starting to shop for gifts. Create the necessary holiday content for your site so it will be ready to launch when the time is right. If you focus on the things we’ve outlined above, your e-commerce website might have its best holiday season ever!