15 Tricks That Attract and Convert Online Gift Shoppers

Busy Canadians often go online to find gifts, only to spend even more time wading through options and making comparisons. Websites that do everything they can to make the process more efficient and successful will often win the sale, but how do you do that?

Gift shoppers are ready to buy and they have a deadline, making them more likely to proceed through checkout. Place yourself firmly in the shoes (keyboard?) of your ideal customer and combine it with the needs of most online shoppers. You’ll create a winning strategy that brings in gift hunters, turns them into buyers, adds the gift recipient to your fan base, and ultimately brings both back to your online store again and again.

15 Tricks That Attract & Convert Online Gift Shoppers

1. Sell Canadian – Canadians are becoming more aware of the benefits of shopping within Canada or even more locally, and that’s especially true when the Canadian dollar is low. Make it clear that you are located in Canada and clearly label products made in Canada. Encourage shoppers to shop Canadian and buy local.

2. Lurk around social media – I see lots of people desperately seeking help on social media, be it gift suggestions or the inability to find a specific item. Use social media tools to listen in on cries for help on social media. You can ride in on your virtual white horse to save them, by replying that you carry the item or by offering a suitable alternative.

3. One stop shopping – If someone can go to a single website and finish all their shopping, they’re happy campers. Offer variety…but not so much that it’s overwhelming.

4. Organization – Most people are easily frustrated by a disorganized website. They want a straight-forward menu of categories, which are broken down further once clicked upon. Search functionality is also critical. Most website hosts include amateur-level design tools these days, allowing you to easily make your website more user friendly.

5. Inside information – Holiday shopping guidance is something a lot of people need before they buy. Run feature articles and blog posts focusing on each person they may be shopping for, such as mom, a husband, or children. Product reviews, customer testimonials, and feature comparison charts all beckon to the ecommerce savvy. Helpful content not only increases conversions on a retail website, it’s also favoured by search engines. For more information, see our article How to Use Content Marketing to Skyrocket Holiday Sales.

6. Gift guides – Do you remember the Sears Wish Book? It had everything from the latest products to special sections like stocking stuffers or gifts under a certain amount. They did that because it works! Those proven methods can easily be mimicked online. Organizing gift guides by price, recipient group (women, kids, etc.), interests, best sellers, and even purpose (such as stocking stuffers) can be extremely helpful to shoppers and your bottom line. Be sure to engage relevant influencers who publish gift guides as well, offering your best products for inclusion.

7. Bundle Products – An easy way to increase sales and serve frantic shoppers is to bundle products. For instance, you can combine products into a gift basket type of gift or gather up 10 stocking stuffers.

8. Sales on popular gift items – Flyers are another offline tool that busy buyers use for fast and frugal shopping. Online sales are similarly organized and have featured products in numbers that are more manageable. Rather than having a simple link or menu button for “Specials”, consider featuring sales with a special graphic strategically placed on every page of your site. Also, prominently feature price-matching policies and coupons.

9. Gift Cards – The answer for many frustrated shoppers are gift cards. They still need to make it look like a special gift though, so they look for stores that are (or would be) favoured by the recipient. They may buy a $25 gift card for a game store and another for a beauty product site, for example. Rather than simply offering gift cards as an option, write sales copy that presents them as more than an easy solution. Emailed gift certificates are especially popular with last minute shoppers.

10. Gift wrapping – Many people dislike gift wrapping or they simply don’t have time. Gift wrapping options like those offered by Amazon are very popular. If you offer to ship directly to the recipient, gift wrapping becomes even more important.

You can charge for gift wrapping or a gift bag at checkout, or offer it as a bonus to get their business. It adds value and convenience to your products, which happen to be the two top reasons shoppers choose to buy from one retailer over another. Consider adding very subtle branding to tissue paper or other accompanying materials, especially if you offer the service free of charge. If you’re lucky, the recipient will become a new customer.

11. Alternate Sales and Marketing Channels – Consider selling products to bargain-hunting Canadians via online auctions like eBay, or merchant marketplaces like Amazon. Check out Online Marketplaces for Canadian Sellers for more options.

12. Customize Affiliate Marketing and Advertising – Affiliate marketers and bloggers can feature gifts, sales and coupons from their favourite merchants. If your business doesn’t have an affiliate program, learn how to start one in our article, How to Start an Affiliate Program for a Canadian Business.

13. Guarantees and Returns – Offer reassurance and flexibility with a guarantee or return policy. Offer in-store returns if possible.

14. Upgraded shipping options – There are many last-minute shoppers out there who have either waited intentionally or were unable to find the perfect gift. Feature the fact that you offer fast shipping options, so it’s clear at a glance that your website is where they need to be. Consider including an “order by _____ to receive before x-holiday” notation, be it December 24th or another holiday.

15. Make it easy to find you – The vast majority of online searchers won’t go much further than the first page of search results. Consider search, social and mobile advertising and target gift shoppers. For example, your ad headlines could feature your gift guides or fast shipping. Find out what the top-searched gifts in Canada are with Google Trends.

Bonus Tip! You’ll be much more successful with online sales if you provide content that targets each gift-buying stage and touchpoint the consumer moves through, based firmly on what you know about your ideal customer. If you need some help defining your ideal customer, read How to Find Info for Your Online Customer Profile (Avatar/Persona).  Enhance it with your unique selling proposition (USP) to stack the odds in your favour.

Getting into a gift shoppers head while they’re shopping online is well worth the effort, especially when you consider that it will also improve the ecommerce experience on your website for all visitors. This insight will also be invaluable for search engine optimization (SEO).

Do you have questions or comments about attracting and converting online gift shoppers? Join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group!

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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon is an internet entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in a wide range of online business models, backed by a formal business education and enhanced by training and mentorship. She has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available from all major ebook retailers.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadianDigitalMedia.com, CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net, and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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Thank you! I can do the attracting but conversions elude me. I’ll give these tips a try and let you know.