Consumers are estimated to spend $9.15 Billion shopping online between Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2018. Amazon will reap a sizeable portion of that. Yet small and midsize businesses (SMBs) also have an unprecedented opportunity to grab their own slice of the holiday pie. Is your business prepared for the holiday rush? If you’re worried your e-commerce store isn’t doing everything possible to stay ahead of the game, you’ve landed in the right place. Read on to learn how your small business can compete with Amazon this holiday season.
Follow the guiding principles below to ensure your business is positioned for success in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Many online shoppers will begin their holiday product search on Amazon. How can you ensure your product is found by ready-to-buy consumers? Of course, one option is to sell your products on Amazon. If you don’t already utilize Amazon as a sales channel, consider integrating it before the next holiday season. With the many benefits Amazon provides its sellers, it is worth running the numbers to determine whether it could be beneficial to your business.
There are some downsides to using Fulfillment By Amazon such as their lack of flexibility in their operations and their refusal to accept inventory that isn’t 100% ready to ship. Third-party services such as FBA Prep can be a perfect way to fill this gap without requiring your company’s employees to get involved.
Regardless of whether you’re selling on Amazon, another marketplace, or your own website, know which strategies you’ll use to answer this vital question: How will customers find your product? Search engine optimization (SEO) continues to be paramount in product discovery.
Here are a few ways to optimize your SEO for the holidays:
- Seek to understand how your ideal customers are searching for the products you’re selling. Once you know the exact language they’re using, use it strategically within your content. This step can involve a significant amount of market research, but it will pay off in dividends.
- Ensure your product descriptions are clear, accurate, and include relevant keywords and targeted search terms.
- Update your keywords! During the holiday season, consumers will be using different search terms, so update your on-site content to incorporate relevant holiday queries. Start these updates as early as possible so search algorithms can crawl and rank your pages.
- Use PPC ads to target relevant holiday search queries by your ideal customers.
- Create holiday themed content for your website to capitalize on trending search terms. This can include highly targeted holiday gift guides using long tail keywords. For example, instead of “2018 Holiday Gift Guide” you can use a more specific search term to inspire your gift guide such as “The 10 Best Women’s Running Shoes”.
- Add high-quality, SEO friendly images to your product pages.
- Ask your past customers to leave reviews on your website to show social proof. You can also use this user-generated content in your email promotions and social media marketing campaigns to help potential buyers feel more confident purchasing from your ecommerce brand.
- Encourage customers to share your links, giving your website more social proof. Creating shareable holiday themed content is a great way to gain links back to your site! You may also consider working with social influencers and bloggers in cross-promotions to generate timely content.
- Reorganize your internal links to reflect how consumers will be shopping during the holiday season. For example, adding a link to “Top Holiday Gifts” to your navigation menu or your homepage can attract more clicks on that content.
- Update meta descriptions with holiday keywords and calls to action.
Simple, Descriptive Product Pages
Confused shoppers don’t buy. If consumers are left with any important questions about your products, they are unlikely to complete their purchase.
Ensure your product pages are clear, descriptive, and include all details that a customer would be interested in. If shoppers contact your company with frequently asked questions (FAQs) about your products, include your FAQs and answers on the product page.
Fast, Free Shipping
Even if you don’t offer free shipping the rest of the year, give customers a free shipping option in November and December. This one step can make a huge impact on whether your business can successfully compete with Amazon this holiday season.
If your business isn’t able to accomodate a drastic increase in sales this holiday season, consider outsourcing to a multichannel ecommerce fulfillment company. It’s always important that your orders are shipped on time every time – and it’s extra important around the holidays.
Amazon’s famous 1-click checkout sets the bar for ease of purchase. For customers who have already purchased from your ecommerce shop, offer a way to purchase items in a single click, if possible.
If you cannot enable one-click checkout, streamline this process as much as possible. Reducing the amount of clicks required to make a purchase is a sure way to increase sales.
Clear, Detailed Policies
Amazon is one of the biggest names in online shopping, and consumers feel more comfortable when buying from well-known companies. Your challenge is to make potential customers feel safe purchasing from you.
One way to do this is by offering clear, detailed policies.
This includes your:
- Return Policy
- Exchange Policy
- Refund Policy
- Domestic Shipping Policy
- International Shipping Policy
Create policies that are customer-friendly, so customers feel confident buying from you for their first time. Offering a fair return policy or satisfaction guarantee can go a long way toward converting shoppers into customers.
Make sure your policies are easy to read and understand, using headlines, subheaders, and bullet points to break up the text. Don’t include fancy language and unnecessary fine print.
One reason Amazon.com is so helpful for shoppers who are researching and comparing products is because their customer reviews are honest and informative. Most shoppers look at reviews before making a purchase in order to get a sense of whether the product is any good – and to learn whether the company is helpful in the event of a problem.
Your brand can use this to your advantage. Make sure product reviews and company reviews are posted on your ecommerce site, so shoppers see the social proof of your happy customers. Build up your reviews by encouraging past customers to leave an honest review on your site or a popular consumer review platform such as TrustPilot or Reseller Ratings.
24/7 Customer Service
Inevitably, customers will have questions. When they do, will your company be available to give them an answer? If not, your competition has an advantage. During the holiday season, customers are often in a rush to make last-minute purchases, and your company can stand out by offering support at their convenience.
Have a plan for all of the ways your customers want to get in touch with you:
- Social media