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Most Americans have a few weeks’ worth of pumpkin-spice flavored snacking and Halloween costume planning before the holiday shopping season begins, but for online shop owners the holiday season is already here. That’s because when shoppers fire up their phones and laptops on Black Friday, your shop must be ready to go, or shoppers will go somewhere else. At A Small Orange hosting business sites both small and large are our priority, and we understand the need to get your site ready for the holidays, so if you’re serious about getting your slice of this year’s projected $98 billion ecommerce holiday sales pie, here are two site elements to work on now.

Maximize your mobile optimization

Mobile retail sales during the 2015 holiday season surprised forecasters by almost doubling from 2014, holidayshoppers_mobilefor a total of $12.7 billion. All told, mobile purchases made up 28% of all ecommerce purchases last holiday season, and experts expect mobile to gain popularity year over year. The Adobe Digital Index, which tallied up the post-season numbers, found that consumers prefer to shop on their phones rather than on tablets, something to keep in mind as you evaluate and update your site design. Even if you already have a mobile-responsive online shop, look over it again. What was good enough three years ago may be due for an overhaul now.

Clean up the screen

Before mobile customers can buy from your shop, they have to be able to see it clearly. View your shop’s homepage on an Android and an iOS phone and look for these customer-friendly design elements: An uncluttered homepage. Some responsive designs preserve desktop navigation tabs and sidebars on smartphone displays, but these elements crowd an already small screen. Large, easy to read text. Even people with perfect vision can struggle to read smartphone screens if they’re using them outdoors, and most of us don’t have perfect holidayshoppers_introvision anyway. Margins around copy and images. Have you ever visited a mobile site with copy and images running from one edge of the screen to the other? It’s distracting and makes readers wonder if they’re missing something or if there’s something wrong with your site. Margins fix this problem. Try check out these web design inspirations to help give you an idea on how to optimize your site's design.

Speed up your page loads

The longer it takes your shop pages to load, the fewer customers will stick around. The industry standard is that web pages should load in two seconds or less on a desktop (although if a competitor’s pages load faster, you should aim to match or beat their load times). Grab your Android and iOS devices and time your mobile page loads, too. KISSmetrics says about 30% of mobile site visitors will wait as long as 10 seconds for a page to load, but also says conversions drop by as much as 7% for each extra second a page takes to load. Unless you’re already at the two-seconds-and-under mark, speed up your load times before the holiday rush. If videos, music, or other elements are slowing down load times, get rid of them or exchange them for lighter, faster-loading alternatives. Make sure that you use a web host with ultra fast SSD servers to make sure your site runs as quickly and smoothly as possible. A Small Orange offers ultra fast SSD servers with all of our hosting plans to keep your site running as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Help visitors find things fast

Once your pages load, customers want to find what they’re looking for fast, whether they’re browsing, comparison shopping, or ready to buy. Make it easy for them by putting your search tool front and center, by sorting your products into logical categories, and by returning search results (no surprise here) fast. Now’s the time to make your search bar more prominent on your desktop and mobile pages and simplify or improve your product categories and navigation.

Work on your (cart) abandonment issues

After you put in all that work making your site better, you’re in better shape for the holidays but you’re not done yet. Just because shoppers can easily load and use your site doesn’t mean they’ll buy. The rate of online shopping cart abandonment is about 75% worldwide. holidayshoppers_cartabandonmentWhy do so many customers bail out before buying? A 2014 study found that most of them leave because of something the retailer can fix. In some cases, they’re just doing price research or want to save the item for later. Most back out because they run into unpleasant shipping surprises like long delivery times, high costs, and the absence of a free shipping option. Others don’t want the hassle of creating a customer account. A few hardy shoppers make it all the way to the payments page only to find their preferred payment method isn’t accepted. What can you do to convert more carts? There are lot's of cart abandonment solutions, you just need to find the one that works for your business.

Be clear about shipping costs

Put your shipping information on every page of your site. Premium retailers including Nordstrom and Coach do this. You can, too.

Offer delivery choices

With most retailers, there’s free shipping and then there’s fast shipping. By offering multiple delivery speeds, you give customers more options – especially important during the rush to round up last-minute holiday gifts.

Don’t insist that shoppers create an account

Some retailers offer the option to check out without creating an account. Others, like Pottery Barn, offer the option to sign in through Google, Twitter, or Facebook instead of creating a separate customer account.

Accept your audience’s preferred payment methods

If you already accept card payments, you’ve got most US shoppers covered. If you don’t also offer a digital wallet option like PayPal, consider adding one for mobile shoppers who don’t want to key in their credit card number on the bus or get out of bed to find their wallets to complete a late-night purchase.

Show shoppers their total cost before checkout

Because so many shoppers leave due to shipping-cost issues, it’s a good idea to total everything up as early in the process as possible, including taxes, shipping, and promo discounts, so your customers know exactly what to expect before they enter their payment information. This may seem like a long to-do list, but the potential increase in holiday season sales is worth the effort. Use the time between now and Black Friday to update, refine, and test your site to make sure it will deliver what customers want during the holiday shopping season—an easy, convenient buying experience.   Need the perfect host to get your website up and running in time for the holidays? Visit A Small Orange for all your holiday hosting needs!


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