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Online merchandising ideas to increase your Christmas Ecommerce sales

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 11 Dec, 2013
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10 last minute Christmas retail conversion hacks

Christmas is days away, but there may still be options to drive your your conversions and revenue per visit higher. Despite development lock-downs and short timescales, there’s still time for these types last-minute conversion hacks to give the gift of a higher conversion rate to your marketing team. Here are 10 I've seen used.

  • 1.  Promote any gift wrapping or customisation options

Customers who are buying gifts will appreciate options like gift wrapping or personalised messages since it saves them time and money. Promoting these options on product pages and at the checkout can give a quick revenue boost – plus it gives customers an extra reason to buy from you.

Selfridges offer a beautiful gift-wrapping option at checkout which includes their signature box:


However, despite being shown as a 'step' in the checkout, it is only offered via a nondescript button:


Selfridges should include descriptive text, images and possibly make gift wrapping a default step in the process to increase usage of this valuable feature.

  • 2. Create 'Gift Guides' and sections for your target customers

Many Christmas shoppers are looking for inspiration for someone they don’t usually buy for, colleagues, grandchildren, in-laws, etc. Sometimes they are desperate for some help.

'Gift Guides'. 'Inspiration' or 'Buying for…' captures the attention of undecided users. John Lewis does this well by targeting typical challenging groups of customers, such as 'people who have it all' as well as the traditional favourites:


By grouping these within a 'Gifts' or 'Christmas' section, you have a great opportunity to capture new sales. This may take longer than days to look right, but simple implementations are practical.

  • 3. Promote stocking fillers and bundles

Users are often looking for small stocking fillers at a great price. If possible, try to upsell these in the basket. And of course, if you’re selling portable electronics, adding a 'don’t forget the batteries' message and link at the checkout can do wonders for conversion.

  • 4. Make returns clear and obvious.

In addition to delivery, customers are often concerned about returns. Gifts which might be the wrong size or perhaps even hated. Customers will want to know if and how they can return their rejected presents.

Make your returns policy very clear on site. If possible, ensure that you accept returns during January even if it exceeds your normal policy.

For example, online music retailer DV247 extended their returns policy to 60 days and highlighted this in their Christmas countdown.


As always, making a big deal out of Free Returns is likely to generate more interest, as 87% of people are more likely to shop on a site if it has free returns


  • 5. Promote your last delivery dates and offer a strong guarantee

Getting gifts on time is what worries customers the most during the run-up to Christmas. You can overcome this hurdle by making the last order dates very clear, like Amazon do on a specific 'last order dates' page.


Adding an entry on your benefit bar or as a notification bar at the top of the page can make this clearer, and addresses users’ concerns head-on without them needing to find a page which gives the details.

Don’t forget that people may be buying for someone outside of the country, so make it clear when the last international shipping dates are.

  • 6. Plan for the unexpected

British weather is notorious for disrupting the postal service at Christmas. The best prepared sites will be ready to add messages about delivery delays and weather. At the slightest hint of a weather delay, users worry and start to buy offline instead of on your site. By pre-emptively showing messages about the weather, especially to say that you are unaffected then you can overcome users’ worries and convince them to buy.

  • 7. Make customer service obvious

Customers are more likely to have questions about their order during the Christmas rush. They might want to check if an item will fit a family member, confirm delivery dates, or simply be less web-savvy and be confused by your site.

Making your customer services more obvious, doesn’t just benefit those who want to use it. It also gives other customers the confidence that service will be available should they need it – now or after the sale.

  • 8. Use a countdown to Christmas or the last delivery date to generate urgency

A countdown to Christmas can be a strong conversion driver on your site. By creating a sense of urgency, people are reminded to stop procrastinating and make their order right away.

In A/B tests, Conversion Factory has regularly seen double digit conversion increases by adding a countdown before key dates.

Angels Fancy Dress used this technique before Halloween (the ‘Christmas’ of the fancy dress world!), linking directly to a widget allowing you to find the last delivery date for your party:


Similarly, Amazon have a countdown to the last delivery date to ensure that people are aware and to increase the sense of urgency.

  • 9. Sell products in the last days before Christmas, even when the last-posting dates have passed

Last year, 12 million British men hadn’t started their gift buying as of December 17th. One in ten said they would leave it until Christmas Eve. Women were only slightly more organised, 20% left all shopping until the last week with 4.2% leaving it as late as Christmas Eve.

2013 won’t be any different! This leaves a huge volume of people who are looking to buy presents after the last delivery dates. Gift vouchers are a great option if you can deliver them by e-mail or offer a printable option.

As soon as the last posting date has passed, update your notification messaging to push vouchers with messages such as 'It’s not too late' and 'Last Minute Gift ideas'. Make sure people are aware that they can still purchase from you and send out e-mails to promote this.

Wish.co.uk is a great example. It makes digital vouchers available for all its products. That means that even in the final days before Christmas, you can buy your loved one a Zombie experience!


  • 10. Sell on Christmas Day

UK consumers spent over £300m online on Christmas Day in 2012 and that figure is expected to increase for 2013. With new game consoles, phones, money and gift vouchers, users are desperate to get spending and you can take advantage.

Make sure your site is ready on Christmas day with updated content, and consider starting your sales early.

In 2012, John Lewis gained huge visibility in just this way, showing up in search results for consumers seeking an early bargain.


Whether you’re promoting special Christmas offers, or just overcoming fears of delivery delays and returns, the huge traffic volumes make Christmas one of the most critical times to work on your conversion rate. A few small changes could make a big difference to your bottom line.

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