Take quick look around any store, and you’ll see the holidays are nearly upon us. That festive time filled with family, friends and celebration is also the most profitable time of year for retail businesses.
For ecommerce merchants, the culmination of the holiday shopping season takes place on Cyber Monday, the ecommerce version of Black Friday. Every second of this online-shopping day could mean major profit for a business. It’s paramount that merchants are adequately prepared. Before Dec. 1 merchants have a lot to consider, from ensuring a website is aesthetically appealing to guaranteeing it can handle an influx of traffic.
Based on my experiences of working with ecommerce merchants to provide strategic advice about growing their online presence, here are the five best ways to prepare your website for Cyber Monday:
1. Design an easy-to-use website.
Everyone has seen a website that's unattractive, slow or difficult to use. To ensure your website doesn’t fall into any of these categories, performe usability testing on your site. Here are some aspects of a website to consider while testing:
Simple navigation: How well designed are the navigational features like menus, search boxes and sidebar widgets?
Ease of readability and comprehension: Is the website's content concisely written and easy to understand?
Consistency of design elements: Are all headers, subheads and body text consistently designed when it comes to colors and fonts?
Quick website speed: How fast does it take to open a page on the website?
Clear access to support: If a visitor has a question, can he or she easily contact your business for help?
User friendliness can have a significant impact on retention of visitors and the rate of their conversion into customers, so it’s crucial to create a positive experience for visitors on Cyber Monday.
2. Optimize the website for mobile.
Mobile ecommerce revenue stood at $42.13 billion last year, and forecasts indicate that number could grow to $132.69 billion by 2018, according to eMarketer. Consumers continuously shift between smartphones, desktops and tablets throughout the day. As such, their digital storefront and shopping cart should ideally sync across all these devices. By optimizing your site for mobile, your customers can continue their shopping experience wherever they are and subsequently increase your company's sales.
3. Create personalized, targeted offers and promotions.
With online giants like Amazon and eBay pioneering digital personalization, today’s consumers demand a relevant online shopping experience at a one-to-one level. By collecting consumer information across all channels, merchants can tailor content and offers individually. For example, you can target visitors using demographic or geographic data.
Visitors from the West Coast can be targeted with Offer A, and visitors from the East Coast with Offer B. By using visitor data, an ecommerce site can not only provide a personalized shopping experience but also increase the chances that customers will ultimately purchase.
4. Ramp up social-media efforts.
Social media is important, but don’t solely rely on it to drive traffic to your website. Tap a combination of tactics like tweets, email blasts and display ads to help raise awareness about your brand and special Cyber Monday offerings.
Be sure a dedicated employee monitors social media conversations before, during and after Cyber Monday. This way, if a visitor experiences a problem with your website or has a question, someone can address it in a timely manner. Engaging in social-media conversations is also a great way to monitor a brand’s reputation. You don’t want to miss out on knowing what individuals and competitors are saying about your business and products.
5. Leverage a scale-out database.
Of course, if your website cannot handle the increased traffic, your best sales day could become your last. This is why first and foremost, your database must be able to support your growing business by handling traffic spikes and possessing exceptional search functionality, as well as offering superior customer service and payment options.
Especially in periods of peak traffic, unprepared ecommerce sites can function improperly if they’re not equipped to handle heavy loads. By leveraging a scale-out, fault-tolerant database, you can ensure that your ecommerce site can handle any amount of traffic in almost any situation, as well as provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, thus ensuring business success.
A scale-out database is one with the ability to grow to accommodate traffic and customer-transaction volumes. The great benefit of a scale-out database is that it can linearly grow, read, write, update and analyze as more data points and devices are added. When scale-out architecture meets the cloud, new applications can easily absorb the addition of new customers and increased transaction volume.