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Strengthening your eCommerce offering this holiday season

  • Written by Mark Randall, WP Engine’s Country Manager, ANZ

The holiday shopping season is in full force and be it Christmas or Boxing Day sales, small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) must ensure their website operates smoothly in the face of the huge influx of online shoppers.

Here’s a few tips for SMBs looking to optimise their eCommerce experiences and rake in revenue this holiday season:

Up the speed

An already cluttered website combined with the pressure of holiday sales traffic can cause websites to slow down which is frustrating for customers and can lead to a high bounce rate for businesses. Customers shouldn’t have to wait any more than two seconds for a web page to load and if it’s a WordPress website, an easy way to check the speed is using this Speed Tool.

If it’s higher than expected, check for and cull any unused themes or plugins that are dormant on the back end and believe me these can build up over the years without ongoing monitoring.

For instance, Miss Biscuit, a Melbourne-based SMB that runs cake decorating classes, shifted its products online during the pandemic but struggled to keep up with demand during key sales moments, resulting in a slow customer experience and in turn a loss of sales. By optimising the speed of its site by upgrading to a premium managed WordPress platform, offloading dynamic requests to other compute resources, and compressing product images, Miss Biscuit scaled its business at pace – and as a result now obtains almost 100% of its income through online flash sales.

Reduce cart abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment is a constant in eCommerce and one of the biggest obstacles to overcome during this sales season. There are several tactics to help reduce the risk of distracted or unfulfilled shoppers – one being choosing shipping and handling costs wisely. If free shipping isn’t an option, be transparent with customers upfront.

Often shoppers abandon carts with the intention of returning to a purchase later; so be sure to enable a “wish list” function or provide personalised product recommendations. Give customers the option to either create an account or continue as a guest. Creating an account can be tedious and could drive away consumers who are looking for a quick and seamless checkout experience. Also provide shoppers with multiple payment options such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and buy now, pay later (BNPL) providers.

Secure your site

Australian Retailers Association recently urged Australian shoppers to stay alert for shopping fraud as the country plans to spend more than $58 billion on pre-Christmas shopping this year. Therefore, it’s vital SMBs ensure their website security is in top shape and one way to do this is through a security plugin, which is easy to implement and will automatically perform ongoing malware scanning and blacklist monitoring on the back end. Enforcing hard-to-break passwords and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates, which encrypt all site information, will also ensure customer data and information stays private.

Security is not only for peace of mind, around 18% of shopping cart abandonment is due to a lack of confidence in security. Incorporating security badges during the checkout experience will help reduce cart abandonment.

Optimise for mobile

Today, websites must be optimised for both desktop and mobile use. For ease, use a mobile-friendly WooCommerce plugin that enables content on a variety of platforms and helps attract and retain customers. The PayPal 2021 eCommerce Index reveals social media shopping has increased 700% over the past two years, predominately driven by Gen Z and Millennials. To cater to younger generations, mobile accessibility and social commerce is key.

With half of Australians (47%) predicting all shopping will take place online in the next 10 years, an effective eCommerce strategy is no longer negotiable for SMBs for not only the holiday shopping season but all year round.

By Mark Randall, Country Manager for A/NZ


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