4 Apps to Supercharge Your Ecommerce Site for the Holiday Season
Look out for those abandoned online shopping carts! These tools will help you do that -- and more.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The leaves are turning, the days are growing shorter; and for consumers and ecommerce store owners alike, the holiday shopping season is fast approaching.
Related: 5 Ecommerce Tools That Can Help You Score More Sales
That's important because for many ecommerce business owners, the last two months of the year are the most crucial. In 2017, U.S. holiday season sales were more than $106 billion, according to Statista; and that number is projected to grow, in 2018, year over year, by more than 17 percent, to $123.39 billion.
Last year, Cyber Monday alone generated $6.59 billion in sales, as reported by Adobe, making it the biggest online shopping day in history.
So, the message here is that ecommerce store owners need to plan for the holiday shopping season. And what they need to know is that it's not too late for them -- as well as owners of content-based websites looking to get their feet wet selling products -- to start using apps that can help ensure they don't leave money on the table during the busiest time of the year.
Here are four apps that can supercharge your site for the holiday season.
Cart abandonment is a widespread concern in ecommerce. It takes place when a visitor to a shopping site adds items to a shopping cart but leaves without completing the sale. Many factors cause consumers to abandon their carts. Baymard Institute identifies the top three as:
Extra costs (shipping, handling, tax) are too high.
Account setup requirement is something shoppers don't want to do.
The checkout process is overly long or complicated.
According to Statista, the average cart-abandonment rate across all categories stands at 77 percent. Business Insider has noted that this equates to around $4.6 trillion globally each year. But, before you feel disheartened by these figures, it's worth mentioning that the same study found that $2.75 trillion is potentially recoverable.
One of the most effective abandoned-cart recovery methods is email automation. For all the hype surrounding new and emerging digital marketing channels, this "traditional" medium is still going strong.
Related: Want to Boost Sales? Check out These 4 Free Ecommerce Tools.
Studies have repeatedly shown how email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing channels, if not the most. When it comes to abandoned carts, email marketing may prove to be an invaluable source of extra revenue for your ecommerce store.
A good tool here is MageMail, a leading email marketing platform for Magento store owners. One of its flagship features is revenue recovery, which includes automated emails for abandoned carts. Once you've completed the initial setup and connected the platform to your store, MageMail will be able to automatically send personalized emails to customers who have abandoned the checkout process. As one MageMail case study showed, this tactic can generate up to 35 percent of a store's total revenue.
Though you should never put all your eggs in one basket, it's clear that no effective abandoned-cart recovery strategy is complete without email automation. A tool like MageMail enables you to easily create personalized campaigns on a mass scale, to maximize your returns.
What do you do if you own a high-performing, content-based website that you've monetized through advertising or affiliate programs, and you decide you want to start selling products as well?
If your site is already successful, you've undoubtedly spent considerable time and resources driving website traffic, whether organic or paid. Of course, you have the option to transition to one of the many ecommerce platforms, but that can have dire implications for your search engine result page (SERP) rankings.
Rather than jeopardizing what has made your site successful in the first place, there is a solution that allows you to easily incorporate ecommerce functionality into your existing website. It's called Foxy. Formerly known as FoxyCart, Foxy can serve as a foundation for advanced custom ecommerce deployments, or quick and easy single-product online stores. It integrates with an extraordinary number of payment processors and even offers Bitcoin support through its Coinbase integration.
Foxy is highly customizable and integrates seamlessly with your existing site design, so your customers don't have to feel that they're leaving your site to make a purchase. Services like Foxy are a useful way to add a revenue stream to an existing site, especially as holiday shopping search traffic ramps up.
Numerous studies have shown that word-of-mouth recommendations are far and away the most trusted form of marketing. In a global survey, Nielsen found that 84 percent of respondents said they trusted product recommendations from people they know. A study by Texas Tech University found that 83 percent of consumers polled were willing to refer others after a positive experience -- yet only 29 percent actually did so.
Tools that incentivize your customers to refer your products and website to other people they know are a method of spreading word-of-mouth marketing growing in popularity. ReferralCandy is one such useful tool.
ReferralCandy offers integration with many of the most popular ecommerce platforms and is easy to set up. Once installed, it can deploy a customized referral program that incentivizes your customers to recommend your site to people they know. Each customer receives a unique referral link to share with friends, and the incentive you offer your customers and the people they refer is fully customizable.
ReferralCandy solicits your customers to refer their contacts either via email or using a number of pop-up widgets, including one that appears immediately after your customer makes a purchase.
With ReferralCandy, you can help ensure that all the work you put into customer satisfaction translates to more sales.
QuickBooks and Xero
This one isn't holiday-season specific. But no matter what ecommerce platform your store is built on, it can't be said too many times that one of the best investments you can make in the long-term success of your business is to integrate with a robust cloud accounting solution. There are two leading contenders to choose from: Xero and QuickBooks.
Both apps offer extensive integration with all the major ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, Magento, Foxy and WooCommerce, and are powerful tools that eliminate most -- if not all -- of the drudgery traditionally associated with accounting and bookkeeping.
I typically recommend QuickBooks for small-business owners, as it's the closest there is to an industry standard. Virtually all tax or accounting professionals will be familiar with its features and formatting and will likely be running it themselves.
Alongside all the operational advantages an integrated cloud accounting solution provides, should you ever decide that the time has come to sell your business, the accurate, thorough and verifiable financial records these tools retain can have a significant positive impact on your company's valuation.
Related: New to Ecommerce? Save Yourself Thousands Yearly With These 5 Frugal Hacks
While the holiday season may be here before you know it, each of the apps highlighted here can integrate quickly and painlessly with your existing site.
Check to see if any of them are a good fit for your business. Don't let the busy season pass you by!