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5 tips to Boost your Online Sales in the Holiday Season.

Written by Ben Culpin, Posted on December 4, 2018
(Last Updated: June 24, 2020)

(UPDATED 04/12/19)

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, meaning we are now in the midst of the Christmas and winter sales.

In the WakeupData office, the Christmas decorations are up (see exhibition A, below). Therefore, with the sounds of Michael Buble ringing in our ears, we decided to put together this article for e-commerce retailers to give a deserved boost to their sales this yuletide season.

Image from iOS (12)

To help out online store owners, we've pulled together a few statistics on what we might be able to expect from this year's Holiday spending period, as well as a few tips on how you can optimize your store and data feeds to ensure the best results.

Ecommerce continues to grow

Ecommerce is expected to drive holiday spending growth again this year as more shoppers use their phones and computers to purchase gifts. According to emarketer, e-commerce retail sales will experience a growth of 19% in 2019.

They also found that consumers plan to do nearly half of their shopping during the Holiday Period online (48%).



Brick-and-mortar continues to decline

Not surprisingly, physical stores didn’t fare well, decreasing in sales by 1.3% from last year (source). 

Should we be surprised about this? No - this is an industry which has been experiencing declining numbers and store closures for years.

brick and morter decline
The interesting statistic we could extract is that physical stores are selling more than ever through their online outreach, with e-commerce sales increasing by 10.2% this year during the holiday period (source). 

According to a study, foot traffic in retail stores fell 7.5% in November and December last year, mirroring the rise in favor of purchasing online.

Related: Check out this Bluestone PIM ecommerce guide for Brick-and-mortar stores to regroup and adapt their strategies for online shopping.


More people than ever using mobile to make purchases

The stats from the holiday sales 2018 show us that consumers used smartphones for more than half (51 percent) of online visits in the US. Mobile revenue also continued to rise, increasing 34% over the previous year's holiday shopping season.

Having said this, m-commerce was actually only responsible for less than one-third (31 percent) of the revenue. Meanwhile desktop accounted for 40 percent of visits and 60 percent of revenue; tablets made up the remaining 9 percent of visits and revenue (source).

So although mobile's involvement in e-commerce purchases is ever-increasing, there is still room for improvement. 

Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, said that the disparity between mobile revenue and visits:

“Reinforces the opportunity for retailers to improve mobile conversion rates and increase smartphone revenue.” (source)

The use of smartphones to mobile commerce is predicted to grow by 32.7% this year. Several major brands like Apple's iphone X have pointed the way for this trend, with a prioritization of factors that help phone users carry out online transactions more easily. 

Overall e-commerce performance

Statista predicts a whopping 246.15% increase in the worldwide ecommerce from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $4.5 trillion in 2021. During the past few years, ecommerce holiday spending statistics has increased sharply.

On top of this, a growing trend from previous years points to another possible sales period for online stores. The week between Christmas and New Year has now become “Cyber Week II”. UK sales grew 28% between December 26 and December 30, last year.

So let's take a look at what online store owners can consider for their online store to ensure they are making the most of the increased potential this holiday season? 




1. Focus on mobile and social.

If we take one thing from the 2018 holiday season it should be that mobile and social should form the backbone of your strategy for this year.
To increase overall attention, purchases, and customer loyalty, retailers should focus on optimizing and personalized every shopper’s journey, especially on phones. 

There are fewer quicker ways to lose potential shoppers than an online store which loads slowly. 

To avoid this, consider optimizing your images, minifying CSS and Javascript, reduce redirects and remove broken links. 

Ensure you are satisfying your website visitors by talking to them. Run a survey with reward on your product pages asking if the website loads fast enough, if it is easily navigable across devices to get an insight.

If you are an e-commerce store with  a loyal audience, more often than not, people will land on your homepage at this busy shopping period looking for instant information on deals and offers. Optimize by using a large banner on your homepage or with a nudge to direct them to your specific offers.


2. Implement AI recommendations

Across the entire season digital revenue grow by 12% globally, an AI played a crucial role in that growth. 

An estimated 16% of digital buyers engaged with some form of AI-powered product recommendations during Cyber Week, with an 14% average increased in order value by shoppers who acted on these AI recommendations (source).

The greatest peak of engagement with AI-driven upselling came on Cyber Monday at 18%, with an average of 15% across the entire holiday season (source). Perhaps surprisingly for some, social media was the breakout channel for holiday traffic with a 22% increase on the previous year.

In terms of individual channels, Facebook and Instagram accounted for 93% of the visits in this year-on-year increase. 


3.Focus on your winning products


Highlight your products which you know are the best-selling or have the best sales margins to focus your attentions upon.

Once you've got an idea of where you will focus on, check out this guide from Planable on building the most effective Christmas Social Media campaigns

Best seller

Think about how the offer is appearing to your viewers - both on your own webstore, email newsletters as well as Facebook and Instagram Ads. You want to make your content eye-catching and engaging so apply discounted price images, promotions and branding to your product images (image, left).

WakeupData's Image Transformation feature lets you apply alterations to all your product images with ease. 



4. Support shoppers across multiple channels.

Those who sell the most in the Holiday season provide shoppers a seamless experience across service, marketing, and commerce on all their favorite devices and channels.
Highlight your products which you know are the best-selling or have the best offers this Christmas.

Think about how the offer is appearing to your viewers - both on your own webstore, email newsletters as well as Facebook and Instagram Ads. You want to make your content eye-catching and engaging so apply discounted price images, promotions and branding to your product images.

Create promotions for your best selling products and offer discounts and deals that give real value to your audience base.

Consider running 'Holiday Promotions of the Day' which encourages customers to come back to the store for repeat orders, (hopefully!) transforming them into a lifetime customer over time.

Consider implementing personalized outreach to specific sets of your customers (or previous customers who have already purchased from your store). Customizing your messages to certain audiences consistently gives improved results. 

There are loads of different ways you can do this, check out the examples included in
this collection of cold email template posts from Lemlist, which outlines multiple humerous, engaging and interesting ways you can effectively reach your audience. 



5. Use the build-up to the Holidays as a time to audit and optimize

If you haven't already started doing so, start implementing seasonal PPC keywords into your strategy.

During the holiday period, you’ll most likely get left behind if you don’t adjust your AdWords campaigns for seasonal keywords. For example, ‘craft supplies’ is a keyword that’s popular all year round, as you can see by the red line below.

christmas ppc

You may have a more successful PPC campaign if you change the keywords you bid for in the lead up to Christmas.  Remember though, a good PPC campaign relies heavily on solid research and testing!

While you are in the process of improving and optimizing your strategy, think about your product listings too. Improving images, descriptions, titles and adding missing data like GTINs can all give significant boosts to your online sales during this period.


If you want to talk to feed marketing experts, who have optimised thousands of product feeds for countless channels across the Christmas period, get in touch with us or check out our Previous Client Success Stories.

Alternatively, get your hands on our data feed audit guide, which gives you a step-by-step run through of what you need to do to improve you feeds:

Get free audit  

Topics:tips & tricksProduct Feed Management