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With the Christmas shopping season just getting under way, what can online retailers do to drive more traffic to the site and convert as many visitors as possible?
Here's a checklist of 12 things etailers should be doing to make the most of the holiday season...
Google introduced Priority Inbox this week, a new feature designed to solve the problem of overloaded inboxes by prioritising the most important and relevant messages.
This new option, currently in beta, splits the user's inbox into three sections, with the 'important and unread' section at the top. Various signals, including who is emailed most frequently, and which emails users tend to open.
This new feature will present new challenges for email marketers as they seek to ensure that their emails get the attention of Gmail users. I've been asking some email marketing experts about the implications of this new feature...
Argos will be trialling new delivery options from today, offering same day delivery to customers in the London area, something which could give the retailer a real advantage over its competitors.
The new delivery options will be provided by startup Shutl, which aggregates same day delivery capacity across a range of couriers, and can deliver stock from stores to customers within 90 minutes. Customers will also have the alternative of selecting a one hour delivery slot with a 48 hour reservation window.
More online retailers are now beginning to offer more flexibility in their delivery options, such as next-day and Saturday delivery.
However, a lot of online retailers still have some way to go to offer the kind of flexibility that online shoppers would like.
More people are choosing to do their online shopping on Christmas Day than ever before, with sales rising by 29% to reach £132m.
Boxing Day saw even higher sales of £281m, according to IMRG. These stats are backed up by an eDigitalResearch survey (PDF) of consumers' online activity over Christmas.
One major concern for online shoppers at this time of year is whether they will get their orders in time for Christmas, and how late they can leave it before buying presents online.
There is also an opportunity for retailers here to drive sales by using persuasive ways to show the information like countdown clocks, or else catch some business from last minute shoppers by offering delivery later than the competition.
The final delivery dates vary between retailers; you need to order by the 17th from the Apple Store to guarantee Christmas delivery, but you can place orders with Amazon up to 8:30 am on Christmas Eve. So how are retailers communicating this to customers?
Officer's Club was, along with Woolworths and Zavvi, one of the casualties of the credit crunch, going into administration this time last year, though the company was purchased and has recently relaunched online.
Shutl promises to revolutionise e-commerce by solving issues around delivery and providing customers and retailers with same day and named hour delivery options.
The company's official launch will be announced at LeWeb today by founder and CEO Tom Allason, who also founded eCourier in 2003.
I spoke to Tom last week about how Shutl works, and why Tom thinks it will be a game changer for e-commerce...
Each month, I log onto the Tesco.com website and place my food order. A few days later, in the evening, a delivery truck turns up within its allotted two hour slot, and a stack of crates arrives on my doorstep. This is against all odds.
The postal strikes last month cost retailers a total of £53m in lost sales, but some retailers managed to offset customer concerns around delivery by offering collect in store services.
Argos is one example, reporting growth in use of its Check and Reserve service around the time of the strikes, and providing an example for other multichannel retailers of how to minimise the disruption caused by postal strikes.
The latest stats from IMRG suggest that the postal strike in October cost £53m in lost sales online, as growth dipped during the month.
Total online retail sales for October were £4.2bn, up both on last year's and September's figures. However, growth dipped in the last two weeks of the month, as the strikes affected consumer confidence.