Christmas is, of course, the biggest sales period of the year, both in bricks and mortar businesses and in the world of e-commerce. However, this also makes the holiday season a stressful one. Over 45s especially feel the pressure, with 88% noting that Christmas shopping is an extremely intense experience. Perhaps it’s for this reason that 58% of consumers have turned to doing their Christmas shopping online, from the comfort of their own homes.

With everyone turning to the Internet for their shopping, it’s important to be prepared. The most important thing is to offer your customers an easy, enjoyable shopping experience, one that’s worlds away from the rush of crowded shopping centres.

One of the biggest issues that online retailers struggle with is cart abandonment, with a rate of 71% amongst sellers in Europe. There are a few different ways you can reduce your abandonment rate over the Christmas period, but the main idea is simply to make the experience as simple as possible for your customers.

The most common reason people abandon their baskets at checkout is unexpected delivery costs, so keeping these at a minimum, or offering deals on delivery, will keep your customers happy. According to a study by Real Business, 66% of UK consumers have bought goods from one site over another because of a better delivery method. It’s also good to bear in mind that click and collect is a very popular delivery method in the UK – 49% of us have said that it’s our preferred way of receiving products.

The second most common reason for basket abandonment is the ‘create account’ option at checkout. This deters shoppers because they don’t want to have to go through the long and tedious process of signing up. One way of simplifying this for your shoppers is to offer them the option of signing up using their social media accounts – this means the email, password, and personal details will already be taken care of, making the checkout process a lot quicker. Another option is also to offer a ‘guest account’ login. A study carried out by User Interface Engineering in 2015 showed that getting rid of the account creation phase increased the conversion rate of certain online stores by 45%.

One of the most stressful parts of shopping online is finally finding the perfect gift, only for it to be out of stock. During the busiest sales period of the year, it’s important to keep a well-stocked inventory. Obviously, this won’t always be possible 100% of the time, so if a product does go out of stock there are two things you can do to reassure your customers: firstly, take the product off the site if it’s out of stock. Getting your customer’s hopes up only to not be able to deliver on them will just make them lose their trust in your brand. Secondly, offering alternatives can keep people shopping. If one of your products is out of stock in a certain colour, maybe have a sidebar with suggestions of similar products, or the same product but in a different colour. These will help keep your customers browsing your site instead of trying somewhere else instead.

For more tips as to how to have the best, most profitable Christmas period ever, check out Lengow’s Christmas infographic below:

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All in all, you want to make your customer’s Christmas shopping experience as stress-free as possible. If they have a positive experience using your online store, they’re much more likely to continue shopping with you after the holidays. And, with 33% of shoppers looking for gift ideas in November, it’s important to start preparing in advance.

What are your best tips for gearing up your e-commerce for the holiday season? Tell us below or tweet us!