6 tips to maximize e-commerce websites for small businesses

A shopping cart logo on a laptop screen.
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For consumers, the holidays are a time for family, celebration and shopping.

This year, online shopping is expected to hit more than $278 billion dollars in e-commerce sales, according to Deloitte. For businesses, this is a critical sales period, with major investment in marketing and pressure to hit sales goals.

With every e-commerce company trying to break through the noise, how can small businesses with fewer resources stay competitive during this frenzied holiday shopping season?

Fortunately, according to Nerdwallet, more than 25% of consumers want to shop small or local this year. Small businesses only need to adopt the best ecommerce platforms, marketing strategies, and consumer touchpoints to turn those prospects into customers.

Here are some tips for small businesses looking to maximize their online store this upcoming holiday shopping season:

Lu Wang

Senior Director of Product at GoDaddy.

1. Feature holiday products

Consumers during the holiday season are juggling familial obligations, end-of-year work deadlines and so much more. It is because of this added stress that they want their holiday shopping experience to be as frictionless as possible.

Small business owners should focus on how they can design their websites to make it easy for customers to navigate to the products they will be most interested in. Remove the need to search by featuring seasonal or gift items on the website homepage. Or, create a website section specifically for gifts, this could even be segmented by persona or price point. For example, curate a list of products and list them under “Gifts for Grandma.”

But don’t forget about the customer’s non-gift purchases. Events like dinner parties, ugly sweater contests, and work events galore, consumers will not only be shopping for gifts, but also for all the events this holiday season has in store.

Making website discoverability a priority will go a long way in providing the frictionless experience customers seek.

2. Showcase other items that may be of interest

In today’s market, consumers want personalization. They’ve become accustomed to personalized ads, music recommendations and more. Going the extra mile to present them with products specifically tailored to their interests will help build a better relationship with customers, and, in turn, increase brand loyalty. One way to do this would be to incorporate a “recommended for you” section on the website with curated products.

3. Announce sales and discounts on multiple platforms

Sales and discounts are now an expectation during the holidays. It’s important for small businesses to effectively communicate these deals to their current and prospective customers.

A multi-channel approach may yield the best results. By creating more touchpoints with the consumer, your brand’s sales messaging has a better chance of resonating. There are many ways to get the word out there. For example, post about your sale on social media. Incorporate a pop-up window on the website to remind customers of the deal. Use email marketing to share discount codes. Provide the customer with free shipping once they are in their cart.

Offering shoppers, sales and discounts can lead to more purchases, and marketing these across various channels will increase the chance of customers taking advantage.

4. Prep for Support

With an increase in shopping comes an increase in customer support requests. This influx of questions or potential complaints can be overwhelming to any business, but especially to small businesses that may not have as much staff to support. Unfortunately, a delayed response could cause the customer to lose interest or leave your site, so small business owners want to be sure their questions are answered quickly.

To make sure customers can get answers to their questions quickly, add an FAQ page specific to holiday-related questions or activate live chat using a third-party provider. Prepping these resources may take more time and effort upfront, but it will save you headaches down the road.

5. Remove barriers to purchase

There are many possible touchpoints where customers could experience frustration and friction throughout the buyer journey. It’s the business owner’s job to remove barriers and make it easy for consumers to browse, click and buy.

Customers want to be able to add items to their shopping cart easily and check out fast. Offering as many quick payment options as possible, such as digital wallets, is beneficial. Small businesses should also consider adding buttons like “Add to Cart” or “Checkout Now” to guide customers to their next steps. Making the buying step as easy as possible will result in more sales.

6. Test, test, test

Finally, entrepreneurs should always test their website. If changes are made to pathways on a website, updates are made to curated lists, shared discount codes are added, or the website is prepped for customer support inquiries, the last step is to experience it as a customer would.

Practicing a purchase through a small business’s own website ensures that the website and checkout process run smoothly.

The holidays are an especially hectic time for small business owners. With major shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday officially kicking the holiday shopping season into overdrive, these tips will help small business owners be better prepared for the chaos and break through the noise to stay competitive.

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Lu Wang is Senior Director of Product at GoDaddy.