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Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat. OK, so it’s still relatively warm outside, but as we move into autumn, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday season.

Christmas is still the biggest shopping season for retailers and getting the holiday marketing campaigns, pricing and online strategy just right takes time.

Plus, once the sales hit it’s crucial to be able to shift any surplus seasonal goods.

Online shoppers want their purchase journey to be quick and simple, especially during the holiday season when they have a lot of buying to do.

As almost two thirds of consumers prefer to shop online using marketplaces, retailers should be embracing this worthwhile channel and making sure their product listings are optimised ready for the Christmas rush.

Listing your products on a marketplace is relatively easy, especially if you use a product data feed. Data feed software extracts comprehensive product information directly from your ecommerce site, ensuring that your product inventory is accurate and up-to-date. In fact, the more product data that’s available, the better.

Which marketplaces generate the most ecommerce revenue?

With so many online marketplaces to choose from, it’s important to do your research and make sure that you choose the one that will generate the most leads or biggest return for your products.

As well as the bigger players, e.g. Amazon and eBay, there are also smaller, more niche websites that might be more suitable for smaller retailers.

eBay

Although you do have to pay to list your products on a marketplace, the cost varies depending on what products you are selling and how much you are selling them for. Most marketplaces charge a fixed fee per listing and then take a percentage of the product’s final sale value.

However, there are also monthly plans for retailers selling multiple products and these often include additional features and benefits. Amazon also offers a fulfilment service for retailers, which takes care of everything (including picking, packing and shipping).

This also means that shoppers are entitled to receive Amazon’s free Super Saver and Prime delivery services on these retailers’ products, which at Christmas can be extremely useful and make the difference between you and a similar retailer.

Customer experience

In the run-up to Christmas, shoppers have lots of gifts to buy and don’t have the time or patience to wait for sites that are incompatible on a mobile device, take ages to load or have a complicated checkout process.

The consumer purchase journey should always be simple, with as few clicks as possible and a hassle-free checkout option. This is particularly important during the holiday season, especially if people are trying to shop on their mobile during their commute to work.

According to the UK Ecommerce Statistics, 38% of online shoppers leave websites and apps that don’t load within 10 seconds.

Mobile commerce continues to grow in popularity so it’s wise to choose a marketplace that has a good mobile site or app. Some marketplaces even offer a one-click route to purchase on mobile – just a simple tap and the transaction is complete.

Six ways to improve Christmas marketplace listings

1. Product categorisation

At Christmas, customers want to find the products they’re looking for quickly and easily without trawling through endless product listings.

Always select product categories and sub-categories that are the best match for your products and don’t add a new category unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If your products are in the wrong category, it might make them difficult to find; if your products don’t show up in the search results, shoppers won’t know they exist and won’t be able to buy them. Mapping and translating your data feed categories will ensure maximum listing optimisation.

2. Keyword optimisation

All product listings need to be optimised so that they match customer search queries on both marketplace and search engines so make sure you’re using common search terms to describe your products, e.g. ‘personalised football shirt’ rather than ‘gifts for him’.

Make sure your product descriptions include long-tail keywords that include a selection of product attributes. Rather than ‘fairy outfit’, use ‘sparkly Christmas fairy costume pink age 7’.

Using data feeds for your product listings boosts your optimisation because the product details from your e-commerce site are fully integrated into the marketplace and are more easily found.

3. Product description

According to Econsultancy, consumers are less likely to buy products that have a limited description.

Your product descriptions shouldn’t be too long, but they should provide extra details and incentives, e.g. ‘Perfect for the holiday season, this red and green patterned Christmas jumper is made from 100% lambswool. Order before midnight December 22nd for guaranteed delivery before Christmas’.

Using incentives, such as offering free delivery and listing the RRP, attracts customers as they can see how much they will save if they buy the product from you.

4. Customer experience

At Christmas, people tend to be buying gifts for other people and need to be reassured that they are getting the best quality item at the best price.

This is because, unlike on the high street, online shoppers cannot examine items before they buy them. So, online product listings need to be as detailed as possible to give shoppers peace of mind that they’re getting the product they want in time for Christmas.

Images of your products are essential, so that shoppers can see them clearly. It’s best to include photos of the product from different angles to give the customer a comprehensive overview of each item.

Any seasonal offers should also be clearly displayed, along with delivery dates throughout the holiday season.

5. Product reviews

To give credence to your Christmas product listings, you can also add product reviews, which also enhance the customer experience and increase conversion rates. Product reviews also provide fresh content for search engines, boosting your optimisation and improving the chances of your products appearing in any searches for ‘product name + review’.

If shoppers are undecided between similar products for a Christmas present, they are more likely to choose one with reviews, as they can see what impartial shoppers think of the product.

Social Media Today discovered that if a product had been independently reviewed, almost two-thirds of customers were more likely to purchase it.

Recent research from Lightspeed found that between one and three bad online reviews would be enough to deter the majority (67%) of shoppers from purchasing a product or service. 

How many bad reviews does it take to deter customers?

Happy Christmas

Customers want accurate high-quality products of good value, so don’t increase your marketplace prices just because it’s Christmas. Customers won’t be happy if they discover they could have bought the item cheaper from your main e-commerce site.

Post-Christmas shoppers are looking for and expecting bargains, so consider altering your data feeds at the end of December so that your main focus is on end of line or seasonal products.

To encourage return visits from customers, you need to consistently meet their expectations – something that is more important during the holiday season. Some marketplaces make this easier by allowing retailers to send their products to the marketplace which then handles shipping and returns on the retailer’s behalf.

This can save time, especially during the manic Christmas season, but handling everything yourself means you can build and maintain customer relationships to encourage repeat business and product recommendations.

It also means that you know when items were dispatched and when your customers are likely to receive their goods.

Don’t censor reviews and if possible, validate them so only customers who have actually bought your products can review them.

Overall, you need to be honest with your product information and maintain strong levels of communication with your customers – if there are problems with an order, tell them as soon as possible. The winter weather can be unpredictable so keep an eye on the forecast and keep your customers updated.

 
Robert Durkin

Published 2 October, 2013 by Robert Durkin

Robert Durkin is Chairman and Co-Founder of FusePump and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter.

15 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Michael Bian

Good info for new retailers. Enjoyed the article. Thanks !

almost 3 years ago

Robert Durkin

Robert Durkin, Founder at FusePump (WPP)Enterprise

Thanks Michael - glad you enjoyed it.

almost 3 years ago

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Darren Jones

Online commercial centres are explode in development and profits continue to every day. An online market has many profits for both purchasers and sellers. There are negative aspects to offering online, yet the positive viewpoints appear to override any negativity. E-commerce is an amazing approach to profit or begin new career.

almost 3 years ago

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