In order to avoid the sweaty, stressful nightmare that is a department store during December – many consumers now choose to do their Christmas shopping online.

So, how do retailers ensure customers buy during this incredibly competitive period?

Here are seven tactics, with seven current examples of retailers putting them into practice. 

Delivery dates & info

The nearer we get to Christmas, the more likely we are to switch to shopping in stores for fear of items not being delivered before the big day.

Consequently, it's important that retailers provide prominent delivery information to reassure customers that there is still time.

Topshop is one retailer that does this, including a dedicated tab for Christmas shipping dates on its homepage.

It clearly and concisely lists the various delivery options, reassuring customers that they can still pick up items as late as two days before Christmas.

FREE delivery

As well as clear and concise information about delivery dates, free delivery is always an extra incentive for cash-strapped customers at Christmas. 

The homepage for Curry's/PC World is chock-a-block with attention grabbing copy, but its emphasis on free next day delivery definitely stands out.

Ecommerce site Flying Flowers also prompts purchases by offering free delivery on all of its Christmas plants, as well as the added bonus of a free pop-up vase. 

Interestingly, I did discover that Flying Flowers offers free shipping all year round. 

It's a cheeky tactic, as this could easily be misconstrued as a seasonal-only offer, but it still demonstrates how much customers value it.

Gift guides

I recently wrote about how retailers are using gift guides to inspire shoppers online.

As well as helping to narrow down the search for gifts, this type of content is also effective for getting shoppers in the festive spirit.

One other example that has recently caught my eye is River Island's 'Lucky Dip'.

It's a very basic tool that offers up four random gift ideas based on a chosen personality type.

However, with many other retailers merely passing off category filters as their 'gift guides', it's one of the most creative (and therefore memorable) examples I've come across.

Product bundles and offers

A great incentive during Christmas time is to promote bundles or multiple-item deals.

This is a good tactic for upselling, as while many people do shop with the aim of buying more than one gift, this type of offer can be hard to resist even if not.

Thorntons capitalises on this, using the main header on its homepage to promote its '3 for 2' offer.

 

Marks & Spencer also uses this tactic.

An extra bonus is that it allows customers to pick and choose from multiple categories, instead of limiting it to a specific type of gift.

Gifting options

As well as deals and offers, gift cards and vouchers can be a great way to target Christmas shoppers online.

This option could lead unsure customers to make a purchase when they might have otherwise abandoned the site.

A good example is Mr Porter, which nicely elevates the concept from a standard voucher to 'boxed and virtual gift cards'.

Described as being 'ideal for a last-minute gift', it draws on the notion of extra convenience by also allowing customers to send it directly to the recipient.

Personalisation

From product recommendations to emails - personalised content is often used to engage long-term customers at this time of year.

One retailer that's taking a somewhat different approach to personalisation is Nordstrom.

Designed to create an emotional connection with the customer, its 'Love, Nordstrom' campaign expresses gratitude to the people who have shopped with the brand throughout the year.

It's a creative approach to seasonal marketing. shifting the focus from the brand to the customer and reassuring shoppers that it is the brand to choose.

Urgency

The laid-back shopper is a rare breed at Christmas. Usually, everyone is in a bit of a rush, with the countdown looming over us from the very start of the month.

So, what better way for retailers to get us buying than ramping up this sense of urgency?

Very is one online retailer that does this, displaying information about how many other people are looking at an item, as well as how many have been sold.

 

House of Fraser also does this.

As well as using social proof to promote the sense that an item is popular, this tactic effectively taps into the shopper's fear of losing out.

For more on conversion strategies, you can download Econsultancy's Conversion Rate Optimization Report.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 13 December, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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