Boxing Day sales should break the bank, not the website

Christmas may be known as the silly season, but statistics from Australia Post’s 2020 e-commerce report show that Aussies are, in fact, not here to mess around. Last year, December was the biggest month in terms of volume for fashion and apparel online purchases, and shoppers visited an average of 10 pages per website. This suggests that not only was there a large volume of shoppers, but they were all committed to exploring the full website before checking out. Inarguably, this is a huge win for retailers; they’ve got customers to their website, cash in hand and are ready to spend. So what could possibly go wrong?

Some would say you can never have too much of a good thing but under-resourced website servers would beg to differ. Online sales events are highly anticipated by many consumers and when the day comes, websites are often flooded with sale-hungry shoppers. The demand is huge and websites must perform to meet it but unfortunately, this is not always the case.

We’ve just experienced Black Friday and Cyber Monday for 2020 and now Christmas and Boxing Day is on the horizon. Retailers need to be gearing up for another high traffic month and allocate resources accordingly. We all love a sale that breaks the bank, but how can retailers make sure their website and customer trust doesn’t go down with it?

  1. Prioritise user experience

With so much excitement around online sales events, it’s essential to have a website that can funnel customers through to conversion, handle the demand and deliver an experience so good that they want to come back. So how can this be done?

When it comes to websites, design and functionality go hand in hand. Web design is more than just a pretty face, it takes into account the logistics of user flows and different buyer personas, combining them all into one design that meets multiple demands. A website should be stylish, clear and display information in a way that isn’t overwhelming. Retailers need to work with their marketing and web development teams to create a user experience that makes it easy to find and purchase products.

Any customer service employee can tell you that the people shopping in June are different to the people shopping in December (we’re looking at you, Karen). The Christmas rush makes people irritable, impatient and unforgiving of mistakes. For this reason, their online shopping experience needs to be simple, quick and flawless from the minute they land on your website. Creating a seamless user experience via logical design is essential to keep customers happy. A good UX will allow a customer to easily navigate their way around a website, answer any queries on their own and purchase without difficulty. When it comes to high traffic online events, a well thought out user experience strategy can not be underestimated.

  1. Scale your website server resource for the demand

With so many people on a website at one time, it’s important to ensure it’s capable of dealing with the demand. Retailers need to consider e-commerce sales events the same way they would an instore one. When expecting high traffic, managers might roster on more staff and buy extra stock. The same rules apply online. A website server should be equipped with the necessary resources to scale for demand and respond quickly.

Additionally, websites that are built with the capability to automate back of house tasks will ensure that demand is fulfilled seamlessly and avoid bottlenecks. For example, if hundreds of orders are being submitted through your e-commerce portal but have to be manually sent to the warehouse for fulfillment then this will form a bottleneck and orders will be delayed. Automating this task means that orders can be sent to the warehouse instantly and delivery can be coordinated swiftly.

  1. Data collection and retargeting so good, people think it’s the FBI

Using customer insights to create personalised marketing is key to making consumers feel like their wants and needs are understood by brands. To excel at this, websites need to be built with this functionality in mind. A good web developer will spot opportunities for data capture and create the capability in the back-end of the website while simultaneously thinking of ways to stylistically present it on the site. Of course, consumers need to consent to their data collection so it’s smart for retailers to consider how their customers might best be incentivised to do this. For new users, it can be as simple as a ‘Sign up to get 10% off your first order’ pop up message. The ability to do this is invaluable as it allows brands to understand their audience, stay in touch with them and create compelling EDMs, social ads and more.

E-commerce is an incredibly competitive space and retailers need to find a way to stand out. Customer loyalty stems from repetitive customer satisfaction so make every touch point and experience a seamless one. From the second a customer lands on your website, you have the opportunity to prove why they should come back – don’t waste it. Create a UX so great that customers come to you for ease of use. Develop a back-end so functional that customers lean on its reliability. Communicate with them post-purchase so flawlessly that they start planning their next buy.

Kristen Cornale is co-founder and strategic director at UnDigital®

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