Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are out of the way, the annual Christmas buying rush has well and truly begun. With more and more customers opting to do their gift shopping online, e-tailers should ensure that their customers are able to find what they are searching for, quickly and efficiently, in order to achieve their sales goals.

Here’s a quick check-list of utilities to help maximise your turnover during the festive period and for the remainder of the year:

1. An on-site search engine that finds niche products

Shop visitors often type in their search requests differently than the product names are stored in the database. Thus, an error-tolerant search technology should be a standard application of online shops.

This is especially important with respect to very concrete requests like “red running shoes from New Balance for men”. Customers using such “Long Tail” queries often make more mistakes. But, they know quite precisely which products they want to buy. And these are often niche products with a high margin. So an on-site search function which relates word elements in any combination correctly can be a valuable sales trigger.

2. Suggest function – adapted to your sales goals

By showing relevant search suggestions in a drop down box you lead your customers as quickly as possible to the right place in your assortment.

If your search solution allows you to implement further elements into the suggest box – e.g. category suggestions, concrete products or thumbnails – you make the entrance in your shop even more easy.

According to your sales strategy you should then decide which products you want to show at first in the suggestions – those can be own brands, remnants, new arrivals, etc. As a result you will convert the suggest menu into an own sales area.

3. Ranking Mixer to promote special products

Usability studies concur that customers are more likely to buy products which are shown on top of the search results. You can play on this fact by controlling the results, in order to promote products you want to sell primarily. Those can be bestsellers, high-margin products or new arrivals – depending on your individual sales strategy.

In most cases, e-commerce solutions allow only to create ranking rules which influence the whole shop. But, often you want to push certain products only in specific categories. For example, if you want to determine that the brand “Calvin Klein” is shown on top in the category “Underwear” but in the category “Jeans” behind the brand “Levis”. For this purpose you need specialist software that allows you to control the search ranking on each category level.

By controlling the ranking results, you decide what customers see at first and accelerate the selling of special products.

4. Dynamic filter navigation

Instead of a concrete demand, many customers will only have a vague idea of what they want in your shop. So, they might just type in a term like “TV” and see what happens. Of course, such a request will result mostly in endless products, far too many for a customer to digest.

In order to lead customers quickly to the most relevant articles, your shop should display useful refinement options. Such filters are created on the basis of the attributes stored in your product data feeds. Your navigation should adapt dynamically to each changes in the database. If you recognise that your feeds don’t contain enough attributes or if certain filters appear multiple times, you should seek the help of technology experts that specialise in product data feed optimisation.

5. Product comparison feature

Especially with respect to shop articles having a lot of features and attributes, product comparisons are a useful tool which can help accelerate the buying decisions of your shop visitors. Because, the more information offered, the more your customers will want to be sure that they are purchasing the right product.

Customers need a comfortable feeling before they make a buying decision. A function for clear product comparisons can satisfy their demand for information.

6. Virtual sales assistant

For bricks and mortar retailers, customer advisory was a distinguishing service which online pure players could not provide. This has changed since the competence of a consultant can be integrated into the digital world of e-commerce – through implementing advisory campaigns.

Thereby, indecisive or unsure customers can navigate quickly to a small selection of suitable articles after answering product-specific questions like: “For which occasion do you need a new outfit?” “Do you want a laptop for the office or to play video games?” “Where are you going to ride your bike?”. As a result, advisory campaigns are a valuable tool which help merchants to convert shop visitors into loyal buyers.

7. Landing pages attracting visitors from Google

Shop visitors who know what they want should be led to their products without a detour. For a good reason: in most cases, a loss of time results in a loss of customers.

Customers increasingly enter online shops via SEA, Product Listing Ads or via organic product search. When potential customers click on the relevant search results they are usually not led to the start page of the shop but to specially designed landing pages that are precisely tailored to the individual interests of each customer.

Professional merchandising software makes it easy to set up campaigns with high conversion-potential across all channels. The landing pages automatically display – depending on the used keyword – the matching banners and the right products.

Lead customers who enter your shop via Google to a special landing page - and thereby directly to the purchase.

8. Theme Worlds for more cross- and up-selling

You should create virtual categories, which perfectly match seasonal trends and the interests of your customers. Such self-defined categories create strong visual incentives to buy – not only for the searched product but also products of higher value or from a completely different category. For example, garlands and candles are usually found within the categories “decorations” and “accessories”. Bundled under the theme world “Christmas” they can generate valuable additional sales.

9. Brand Worlds – buying incentives through recognition

Popular labels sell better if they are not distributed among different pages of the shop but bundled on one single page. Brand worlds serve as a store-within-a-store – designed in the typical look and feel, which is familiar to the customer through other advertising channels. Customers who originally only intended to buy a perfume discover enticing accessories and inspirational gifts. Or they even decide spontaneously to purchase a higher valued product. For shop operators this represents a rewarding business opportunity while visitors receive a strong incentive to spend more time in the shop.

10. Self-learning recommendation engine

Experience shows that online shoppers do not perceive additional offers as something negative, but as a useful service; at least if the displayed products are closely related to the selected items. People who buy a notebook do not have to spend time looking for a suitable mouse or case, instead they are directly displayed as a recommendation.

For how long has a customer viewed the detailed product information page? Which products did the customer add to his or her shopping cart? And what is the shopping behaviour of other customers? If your recommendation engine is able to answer such questions by tracking the user behaviour, you get the basis for additional suggestions with a high success rate.

Higher Cross- and up-selling with Prudsys Solution. Through relevant suggestions shown on a product information page 

By Caroline Hey, International Business Director at

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