5 Most Influential Factors for Holiday E-Shoppers (And How to Use Them for Your Brand)

According to recent research by Invesp, online holiday sales account for a hefty chunk of e-commerce sales. It’s estimated that online holiday sales will account for 24.3% of total e-commerce sales in 2012, and US retail web sales will reportedly increase 16.8% over last year’s holiday season.

Invesp also identified the five factors that most influence holiday shopping. Here’s how you can use them for your own business and get those much-needed holiday sales.

Free shipping – Free shipping is the number one influencer when it comes to making holiday purchases, and it’s no surprise why. Depending on what you business sells, it might not be possible for you to offer free shipping across the board. What you can do, however, is take a note from brands like Amazon and offer free shipping for purchases over a certain price point. Not only will it appeal to customers without making shipping a headache for you, it might also encourage buyers to upgrade or add to their purchases to reach that price point.

Last minute holiday sales – We’re all guilty of procrastination, but the urge to procrastinate becomes even greater with the possibility of last-minute discounts and specials. Take advantage of this tendency by introducing awesome deals just before the holiday hits. Use your social networks and email base to promote these sales and include a specific call to action (e.g. “Complete your Christmas shopping by ordering now!”). Also, be sure to communicate your shipping schedule — if customers need to order by a specific day/time or use a specific shipping method to ensure delivery in time for the holiday, then let them know exactly what to do.

Coupons – Everyone loves coupons, and they carry a lot of weight when making decisions. Create coupon codes and share them via your email base and your social networks and monitor the response. You can also use this as an opportunity to create and earn return customers by, instead, offering coupons on future purchases in return for business. Offer a percentage or dollar amount off a future purchase for customers, and be sure they can redeem it well after the holidays (when money isn’t as tight).

Gift sets/complementary items – Sell cookware? Offer a pan and utensil bundled gift set. Sell jewelry? Be sure to have your site recommend matching or complementary pieces. Customers will feel like they got a better deal and a better gift for their loved one, while you will stand to make a bigger sale. Recommending complementary pieces is especially great if you’re offering free shipping for purchases above a certain price point.

Flexible payment plans – Customers are more likely to spend more money on purchases if they have the ability to pay later or pay for large purchases in small increments. Although offering layaway might only seem possible for big box stores, the ability to offer layaway is opening up to more and more e-tailers. With sites and services like PayPal’s Bill Me Later and E-Layaway, big and small businesses alike can offer customers flexible payment plans without having to set up a system on their own.

Haven’t decked your brand’s Facebook page for the holiday shopping season? Here are five great ways to do it.