The 12 Commandments of Online Shopping for Christmas 2021

As usual, holidays are approaching upon us. An occasion for friends, family, and loved ones to gather and purchase presents for each other.

In the year 2021, most transactions are executed online. That’s why the world is about to witness the major online shopping season, in the history of the internet. This year, the holiday shopping season is utterly exceptional. Humanity is at the heart of a global epidemic, and we are seeing a technologically changing landscape.

Certainly, we can make some informed decisions. But, not a single person of us has ever been through a crisis like this before.

However, one matter we know for certain: online sales are more significant in this time than ever existed anytime in history. Thus, we supposed that it might be beneficial to reveal some visions we’ve discovered from real ExpandCart sellers and things you can do as well to get a little more geared up, as the world getting into the holiday shopping season.

Without any more arguments let’s delve into the article. Let us begin with the favorite part of the holidays for everyone.

1. Discounts and Offers

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, according to a survey conducted by our firm ExpandCart: 78% of ExpandCart sellers, who responded, intend to propose some kind of Holiday Promotion.

What sort of Holiday Promotion? Someone may ask. The vast majority, 83%, want to offer a number of financial discounts. Probably, you ought to offer a price cut.

How much discount should you offer? The majority of ExpandCart merchants, who are going to offer a price discount, are scheduling for discounts between 1- 25%.

2. Bogo Offer

Actually, offering a price discount isn’t the ultimate choice that you have. Bogo Offer is another great option. To put it simply, Bogo Offer is when the customer can buy one product and is offered to get one free; buy one T-shirt and get a free T-shirt.

Bogo offer example
Bogo offer example from the famous restaurant Friday’s

3. A Free Gift

Suppose you don’t like to make a price discount as an offer at all. Possibly, you want to try a different option. A very good alternative is to offer a Free Gift with a “Purchase Now” message. That Free Gift can be offered for all orders made within a certain date.

It can be a Free Gift with the purchase of a specific product, or it can be a Free Gift with purchases above a certain total price. All of those are excellent substitutes to price discounts, which are also confirmed to raise sales conversions.

4. Special Seasonal Products

let’s say you want to take the Free Gift method. What kind of free gifts should you offer?

Special Seasonal Product is one of the most recognizable and well-timed gifts. It is not necessary to be a highly expensive gift. In fact, it actually shouldn’t be. You can opt to a holiday T-shirt, a hat, a teacup, or anything else, in relation to the event.

5. In-Stock Products

An alternative route is to offer some products in inventory that you are trying to off-load in any case. Assume you have some items that have to be replaced sooner or later, or you have a newer edition, or simply it is not making good sales.

You can offer those items as your Free Gift. You could even consider creating a product, or choosing a product, out of your stock, as a cross-sell, that completes and compliment other products.

Think of something that isn’t monetarily super expensive, but the value is increased in the context of the other products that you sell.

So, let’s say if you sell a TV, the complementary product could be a Home Theater System.

I don’t have a complete idea about material that matches all these promotional options. Whether it is a Percentage Off, a Free Gift, or a Bogo Deal, it can be customized to adapt to your needs and capacities as a store owner. Don’t feel as if you have to do as everybody is doing. Take your time, think about your options that you can handle, and resonates with your clients.

6. Communications

Whatever you choose, be it a Pricing Discount, a Free Gift, or a totally different choice, it makes no difference how generous your offer is, if your clients have no idea about it.

As it is so vital to define the offer, it is as important to define how you are going to tell people about it. So, once you’ve decided on what your offer is going to be, take some time thinking about your distribution plan.

It doesn’t have to be super complicated. You can use the resources and the channels that you already have at your disposal. Email, if you’ve built an email list, social media, and your website, especially if you’re on ExpandCart we’ve got plenty of tools and apps to add discounts, banners, promotions, and whatever else you need to get those holiday promotional plans in operation. Consider it our gift.

Now, when should you start your holiday promotions?

Normally, the holiday shopping season starts sometime in late November. But, as everybody at home, and already online, a lot of that holiday shopping is already happening right now.

In 2019, a study made by ExpandCart showed that even then 1 out of 5 shoppers launch their holiday shopping in October. Ideally, by this point, you would have implemented some offer(s); it is understandable if you don’t. It is not too late to start, but employ some of promotional offer, or campaign, as fast as you can. Since people by this time are online, and they’re indeed shopping, you want to seize as much of that opportunity as possible.

7. Have an Email Strategy

According to our survey findings, 73 % of the surveyed merchants intend to use email for advertising or directing the increasing numbers of shoppers to their online stores.

In spite of all of the modern advertise tools, there will be many marketing ways and strategies that you can manipulate. Email Marketing is even now one of the most efficient and highly advised for small businesses.

It is the only marketing tool that offers you that degree of direct contact with your clients. You realize that your shoppers are keenly spending their time to review the inboxes, read the marketing emails, reply to incoming invitations, and you too have the chance to be in that inbox.

Therefore, make the most of that.

ExpandCart online stores have MailChimp App built-in,
which makes automated email campaigns an easy job for you

8. Promotional Emails

While you are looking towards the holidays. It is a good idea to put a plan for how you want to use it.

One type of email that we have already talked about a little is the Promotional Emails. Of course, that includes your promotional offers that you’re going to be running on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Small Business Saturday, etc.

Possibly, you need to prepare a series of emails that doesn’t just carry out your offers, but also involve Hot Products, items that will be trendy for the season, or Special Seasonal Products that you will offer just for a limited period. All of those offers and ideas can be conveyed by promotional emails before or during the holidays.

Promotional email example
Promotional email example with a 50% offer

9. Abandoned Cart Emails

The other type of email, which we think is even more important than the promotional emails is Abandoned Cart Emails.

Abandoned Cart Email is, generally, an automated email; meaning that there is no need to deliberately type or send your clients anything at any exact time. Your store will automatically send them this email: when a customer adds a product to their cart and then leaves it without finalizing the purchase order. These are essential, because approximately 70% of shopping carts are abandoned, which means that 70% of the time customers add products to their carts, with the intention to buy the items, but don’t fulfil the purchases.

Abandoned Cart Email works as the following:

A shopper comes to your online store, they add an item to the cart, then they leave without completing the purchase. Accordingly, an Abandoned Cart Email will be automatically sent to them, reminding them about the left alone products, persuading them to return, and carry out that purchase.

What makes the Abandoned Cart Email even more valuable? Add in an offer. Now, you’re offering two great options; you’re giving them a reminder about the items that appealed to them, and you more desirable by notifying them: if you return now, you’re going to save some money. Who would abandon that? I like products, and I care for saving money, it is a win-win deal.

You just can’t go wrong. So, definitely have Promotional Emails, have Abandoned Cart Emails, and whenever possible, include in all of those emails any kind of offer.

Abandoned cart email
Abandoned cart email example that’s simple and enticing

10. Have Gift Cards

Gift Cards can work on many different levels. If a customer is shopping in your online store, and they’re shopping for a close person, let’s say it is a gift, but unfortunately they don’t have an exact idea about that person’s preferences.

In this case, you can give them a Gift Card.

Suppose a customer is shopping for a specific product, but that product is out of inventory. Again, a Gift Card lets them execute and return to buy this product at another time, when it is replenished in the stock.

Also, you can install a Form, so that those customers who want a specific item may sign up and get a notification when that item is restocked. At that point, they can use their Gift Card to buy that item.

Remember, there is a reason to call it a Gift Card. It is a Gift, it is plainly aimed to be offered as a gift. As I’ve said in a previous article, a large percent of buyers does not cash in their Gift Cards.

That is exactly like a truck of money just brought to your store. So, be kind to yourself and offer Gift Cards.

Gift card example
Gift card example

11. Communicate Policies and Deadlines

This issue is all about efficient Customer Service. We know the old proverb “the customer is always right.” This is not quite true, in a lot of incidents the client is so wrong, but, usually, the client believes they must be right. That is the reason that our job is to confirm that we give a priority to the customer expectations, and do our best to communicate issues that could be controversial for the clients.

Return and Exchange Policies

If you haven’t implemented it, I urge you to take your time to carefully contemplate it, then set out a watertight Return Policy.

I think it is definitely a good idea to accept returns for things that are broken, or are not properly fit, etc.

In addition, there are advantages to offer a more generous Return and Exchange Policy. The first of which, it will make your clients feel more at ease about finalizing their purchases. Hence, improving your sales conversion. If I’m trying a new product for the first time, it could be a new T-shirt, and I don’t know how that T-shirt is exactly going to fit, I don’t know if I’m going to like the fabric, the color, or whatever it is.

Having the opportunity to be able to return that, if I’m not totally satisfied with it, is going to make me feel more at ease going ahead and finalize that purchase. Again, in some situations it can be acceptable to declare: We don’t accept Returns or Exchanges. Whatever your decision is, you need to carefully study all the consequences.

If you are willing to accept Returns, then set some criteria for this, such as:

  • Terms and Conditions of Purchase and Return.
  • Are you willing to accept returning a purchased product?
  • The reasons to return a purchased product.
  • Who will incur the payments for the Return Shipping? The Seller or the Buyer?

These are the issues that you should study with care and arrange for. When you’ve decided the layout of your Return and Exchange Policy, then you ought to clearly declare that to your clients. In a suitable niche where they can read it, without confusion. Let it be on the product display page, in the page footer, or at the Checkout before fulfilling the purchase.

To implement a clear Return and Exchange Policy is not everything, your clients need to read it before they complete their purchases. Obscuring your Policy in small fonts is not a good idea. If there is a purchaser who couldn’t see your Return and Exchange Policy, and is trying to return a product, and they are upset, it will not be enough to satisfy that client, by simply saying that our store does not accept Returns on Clearance Items.

Whatever the policies that you implement, it is very important that it be explicitly stated. Again, that all depends on setting expectations. When a client can see very clearly on the product page “If I buy this Clearance or this Final Sale Product, the store will not accept to return it”, then the customers will be able to reach a more informed decision.

Although, you might still have some clients who will try to returning items that you clearly stated that it is not subject to return, you will have much less of these cases; because you have addressed it well.

12. Shipping Deadlines

The year 2020 has been exceedingly hard on courier services and fulfillment centers. That will not be mitigated as we progress into the historically frenzied Holiday Delivery Season. During the Holidays Shipping, I guarantee the Delivery Delays.

Innovative shipping solutions can go as far as calling sales agents and customer support team to carry out deliveries themselves, to compensate for the delivery shortage due to 2020 circumstances.

Even with employing all of that manpower, we still have delays. Which is the reason 55% of ExpandCart surveyed merchants replied that they were actually going to raise their Shipping Deadlines, in order for their customers to estimate the date and time they have to fulfill their purchases by.

Take your time to accomplish your research, and find the approximate time your clients will need to fulfil their order, and when you need to deliver your items by the mail, or the courier, in order for your clients to receive it on time. As soon as you calculate the lead time, convey that to your clients, and confirm the message is clearly declared.

The worst thing, at the holidays, is to order something, thinking it will arrive on time, then notifying the store when it doesn’t arrive, only to find that it will not deliver. This is not only dangerous to your brand trust, but it also can ruin the holidays.

shipping deadlines
Shipping deadlines communicated in details very clearly before the holidays

I don’t wish that for anybody. Do the research, and let your clients know the time they have to place their purchase, so that they can return to their business they are doing at the holidays.

That is everything I have for this article. I hope this was a useful analysis of some simple steps that you can take to be a little more equipped for the holiday shopping season, in case you haven’t.

ExpandCart online stores are integrated with 40+ reliable shipping providers and
couriers for a smooth and trusted shipping experience.


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