Are You Ready for Cyber Monday?

Cyber1fullOver the past few years, there’s been a not-so-subtle shift in how pet-buying consumers choose to do their holiday shopping. According to a current Nielsen survey, 20% of consumers will shop on Cyber Monday, compared to the 17% who’ll brave the retail battlefields on Black Friday.

So, to help your pet business prep for the online onslaught, we’ve put together a list to help with your Cyber Monday survival and success:

#1 Storage
To efficiently deal with Cyber Monday-heavy traffic, do a technical house cleaning and tune-up, using e-commerce solutions to streamline online storage space and bandwidth. Check your database, logs, RAM and bandwidth by early-November. Having the correct amount of space on your server will save you major headaches as the countdown to Cyber Monday commences.

In computer-time, a few passing seconds can seem like a lifetime and an overloaded server could have your system moving at glacial speed. How much can a few added seconds hurt your pet business? According to Compuware, every 2 seconds of load-time on your site equals an 8% abandonment rate. If you drop your load-time from 8 seconds to 2 seconds, your conversion rate actually jumps up 74%.

#2 Hosting
If your pet e-commerce site is hosted by a site-builder, call the customer support team and ask them what they recommend for your site to best accommodate the Cyber Monday blitzkrieg. Many hosts provide simple solutions for increasing bandwidth and extra RAM that could save you a ton of time, rather than trying to figure out the program yourself.

#3 Design
Does your website’s interface look old and dated? If so, consider doing a quick digital makeover. Well-designed menus, filters and sorting options will minimize the amount of time it takes pet buyers to find a product and purchase it.

Many e-commerce site builders offer professionally-designed templates that are both visually appealing and present an enjoyable shopping experience. Just like a brick and mortar pet store, a sloppy and disorganized display makes a bad impression and when e-consumers are turned off, they literally turn off.

#4 Reports & Resources
What sold like hot cakes last November may be a dead-seller this year and what sold big for you just last June may not be selling at all five months later. Using search engine tools and other research methods will help you uncover what pet lovers are buying this holiday season.

If you’re currently using web statistical analysis or tracking tools, now is a good time to review the data for things like highest current users and hit rates. With resources like Google Adwords, discovering the most popular items in your catalog and product targets can be done in just a few steps. Not only will this useful information help determine optimized keywords and keyphrases, it will give you basic guidelines to help launch your holiday marketing campaign.

#5 Marketing
Instead of advertising your entire catalog, spotlight your most popular products or services, using them to entice pet consumers to your e-commerce site.

Expanding to third party shopping engines such as Shopzilla, Nextag, and Amazon will identify your best selling products to pet-buying consumers, as well as help increase your search engine optimization. Popular e-commerce consolidating sites such as CyberMonday.com help pet buyers find your business and can quickly link them directly to your website in literally seconds.

Also, don’t ignore print advertising for your Cyber Monday marketing strategies. While 63% of consumers search the Internet for product research, a recent report reveals that 40% of consumers use newspapers and circulars to search for information on Cyber Monday sales.

#6 Mobile
Cyber Monday was initially coined because consumers were doing their holiday shopping from their workplace computers on the Monday following Black Friday. However, more people are now taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals by logging onto their home and mobile devices right after midnight.

In June 2013, more than half (55%) of all retail related Internet time originated on smartphones and tablet devices, compared with just 45% originating from desktop devices. With the continual advancements in microprocessors and mobile technology, these numbers will undoubtedly continue to rise. So, it’s very important that your formatting and mobile offerings are accommodating the trend.

Mobil app caveat: If you don’t already have a mobile app for your pet business, the short time before Cyber Monday may not be the best time to build one. Over-investing in customizing a mobile app isn’t worth the time and money unless there’s a clear value. So wait until you have more time to put into market research.

#7 Security
The holidays are peek times for identity fraud and the last thing you want is for your customers to fall victim to online theft while purchasing from your e-commerce website.

So make sure your program offers the latest in fraud protection and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption. SSL technology is a must-have for all e-commerce sites.

#8 Extras
Discovering a user-friendly, money-saving e-commerce site on Cyber Monday is like finding a jewel for consumers searching for the perfect pet gift. So include extra features to help you stand out above the crowd. Here are a few extra features to consider offering your patrons:

  • Varying payment and shipping options
  • Loyalty programs
  • Gift wrapping
  • Downloadable holiday eCards & gift cards
  • Gift giving points for purchaser
  • Boast “Instant Delivery” on downloads

 

Sources: Neilson Ratings, IT Business Edge, National Retail Federation