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Three ways small online retailers can boost Valentine’s Day sales

Romance is a serious business down under, with Australians spending $377 million on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2019 according to Criteo data, and with more Australians purchasing gifts for their loved ones online this year, we can anticipate a spike in online transactions.

Not only will many couples opt for romantic dinners at home this year, but many are likely to revenge buy, meaning they will treat themselves and their loved ones to purchases due to the fact that they’ve missed out on other social experiences during the pandemic. The “lipstick effect” will also come into play with shoppers more inclined to treat their partners to more small ticket luxury goods.

When it comes to the way we can expect Australians’ to shop online this year, our recent Reality Bytes report found all generations prefer shopping via a company’s website rather than a mobile app. This includes the majority of Baby Boomers (89 per cent), closely followed by Gen X (87 per cent), Millennials (80 per cent) and Gen Z (75 per cent).

Especially during seasonal sales peaks like Valentine’s Day, small business owners shouldn’t be afraid to compete with the big players. Here are three easy digital experience tips that will help small business owners get the most out of their Valentine’s Day sales.

Speed things up

Website load speed can make or break a customer’s online shopping experience and can be the determining factor for bounce rate, conversions, customer satisfaction, and SEO rankings.

The common errors businesses make that lead to slow loading time are high resolution images that aren’t optimised, idle plug-ins, extensions, add-ons, carousels, sliders, and particular fonts. The more assets a site holds, the more the browser must download and if it’s too slow during peak traffic periods like Valentine’s Day, it’s almost guaranteed customers will get frustrated and move on.

The key is to be selective on what you install on your website and remove anything that isn’t being utilised, but remember, do not go removing necessary or important site elements just to save a few milliseconds.

Make mobile a priority

Last year, over half of Australians (55 per cent) used their mobile devices for eCommerce (PayPal 2020 eCommerce Index). While this is an 18 per cent drop from pre-COVID-19 levels, with many of us no longer browsing our mobiles to-and-from work and spending significantly more time on our laptops or desktops, mobile devices still play a critical role in the customer purchasing experience, especially when it comes to product discovery. This is most apparent in young people, with two-in-five Gen Z (44 per cent) and half of Gen Y shoppers (51 per cent) browsing their mobiles at least daily.

SME owners wanting to take a share of the lucrative mobile pie this Valentine’s Day must ensure their online offering is tailored to provide Australians the best possible omni-channel experience. Building an eCommerce site using existing themes on WordPress, for example Genesis and the WooCommerce plugin, can help cut design costs and enable seamless online experiences that are optimised for both desktop and mobile.

Simplify the checkout process

The checkout process is one of the most important steps in the online shopping experience and if it’s too difficult or takes too long consumers will lose interest. To streamline the payment process, it is important to offer shoppers the option to check out as a guest rather than demand that they sign in or create an account. Also use a progress bar, accordion design feature, or other tool to show shoppers the steps they need to take to complete checkout and where they are in that process at every step along the way.

Never before have small to medium businesses had the opportunity to dominate such a lucrative online market and take advantage of peak sales events like Valentine’s Day. And central to this is ensuring that the fundamental elements of their website and mobile experience are of exceptional standard in order to boost sales and spread the love this year.

Mark Randall is VP – APAC, at WP Engine.

This story originally appeared on sister site Inside Small Business.

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