It’s going to be a record-breaking year in online sales again this holiday season. From research to purchase, most of the customer journey will be online. Thirty-two percent of Canadians said they plan to buy more online this year, according to Canada Post, and that survey was conducted before the pandemic hit.
We now know online shopping has greatly exceeded expectations in 2020/21. What’s more, those who are new to shopping online are expected to embrace it permanently.
8 Things to do Online to Make Holiday Season Sales Soar
No matter where you are in your digital transformation, there are ways to use the internet to increase your sales. We’ve outlined some of the most effective below. If you’re not familiar with any of these strategic moves, there’s still time to do more research and implement whatever you can before (or during) the holiday season. Once in place, you’ll enjoy more sales all year long.
1. Your Website
You can sell on social media or through online marketplaces without a website, but it’s critical that you have one anyway. You need a homebase to send consumers and customers to, from marketing, to repeat sales, to customer support. We can’t count on networks or marketplaces alone because things change. As the saying goes, never build your house on rented land.
Additionally, more than six in ten Canadians agree they are more likely to do business with a company that has a website, according to CIRA, and 62 percent say they generally have a better impression of a business that has a website. One-third of Canadians go so far as to say they don’t trust a business or organization that doesn’t have a website. Nova Scotians are the least likely to trust a firm without a website, with 36 percent saying so.
Please read How to Bring Your Canadian Small Business Online for further guidance.
Once you have a website, being able to process sales from it is probably your next step. You can set up your own shopping cart on an existing website (such as WordPress + WooCommerce), or go with a robust eCommerce platform. Choose an eCommerce platform that provides lots of room to grow and expand. Don’t undervalue the customer experience, as it’s critical to close the sale.
- Answer their questions.
- Address their concerns.
- Resolve their problems.
Those three things alone will draw shoppers to your website and earn you a higher position in search engine results. Read How to Use Content Marketing to Skyrocket Holiday Sales for tips that are sure to make your sales soar.
3. Social Media
Add your social media links to your web page in a place where visitors will see them immediately. It’s crazy how many businesses don’t display their social media links or bury them at the bottom of the page. Any chance you have to engage customers is pure gold.
If you’re not already active on social media, get on it. It’s where a large majority of Canadians are and you can bet your competitors are there too.
Like content, social media posts should revolve around value. It’s the perfect place to share that useful content you’re creating, allowing you to promote your website without direct advertising. Strategically share the best content of others and tag them when you do.
Email marketing is alive & well and your email list should be grown at every opportunity. Familiarize yourself with CASL to ensure you do so in full compliance with Canada’s anti-spam laws. Use ‘double opt-in’ to protect yourself and consumers (subscriber must confirm subscription via email). Invest in professional email marketing tools and get your sales funnels in place.
Most experts agree that we’re heading into a serious recession and Canadians are already feeling the pain. Many Canadians already say one of the top reasons they follow a brand online is to learn about their deals. Seventy-one percent will shop more often from retailers who tailor rewards and discounts to them, according to Canada Post. Be it on your website, newsletters or social media, soothe this pain point with a reward program, discount sales or coupons.
6. Go Global
In 2019, 27.5 percent of online purchases were made from outside of Canada. That number will grow as more Canadian small businesses bring their company online. The internet has cracked the world open for anyone who wants to sell online. Shipping & fulfillment options that are available to Canadians today, make it relatively simple to serve a global market.
Google Market Finder is a new, free tool to help Canadian businesses go global in three steps:
Step 1: Market Finder recommends the best markets for your business
Step 2: Prepare to go global
Step 3: Reach global customers looking for what you sell
A new survey suggests Canadians are much more concerned about the safety of online shopping, compared with consumers in the United States. We’ve always been a cautious bunch, but most Canadians are now routinely shopping online. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still concerned about security. Learn more about eCommerce and Online Sales Fraud Prevention in Canada.
8. Shipping, Delivery & Returns
Obviously, free shipping converts. In fact, 67 percent of Canadians said they’ll abandon the checkout process if there isn’t an option for free shipping. It isn’t always feasible for micro-businesses to absorb shipping costs, however, and prices can’t be increased enough to cover it.
Here are 12 Ways to Slash Shipping Costs for Canadian Small Businesses to help address this issue.
Canadian consumers are also looking for:
- Multiple delivery options, included home delivery and local store delivery, if possible.
- An easy return process. Seventy-nine percent of Canadians will drop a retailer if they have a bad experience when trying to return a product.
- Fast order processing. Waiting days to ship an item could result in cancellations.
- Minimum shipping materials. Sixty-nine percent of Canadians get upset when retailers use excessive or unnecessary shipping materials.
Make sure your shipping policies are clearly written and feature a link to them prominently on your website. Be clear about expected shipping/delivery times and let them know if the order will be drop shipped. Let shoppers know if they can count on you to deliver a gift by a certain date. Add FAQs as you go along.
Be ready to pivot. Having a solid online presence allows you to edit your sales & marketing strategy on the fly, almost in real time. It’s the ability to think on your feet and change on a dime that will help holiday sales the most in Canada and beyond, online or offline.
2021 Note: Get your stock in as soon as possible. Supply chains are still a mess!
Discuss this and other online business topics in our Canadian Facebook Group, or add your questions & comments below.
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Marie has an M.Sc. in Marketing and a certificate from the Ryerson Digital Media program. She's enrolled in one course or another most of the time and is always in the middle of a new business book (or three). Marie enjoys writing, traveling and volunteering at local events & trade shows.