Google has released its top five tips for small businesses to secure online sales over the Christmas period, saying it’s not too late to take advantage of the last-minute shopping rush.
According to the search engine giant, Christmas-related search queries by Australians are up 35% from this time last year, with the biggest spikes in popular gift categories including toys, games, fashion and accessories.
Google Trends reveals South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland are leading the way, with the highest search behaviour for Christmas gifts online this year.
The company states: “With the countdown to Christmas now on, it’s not too late for small and medium-sized business owners to focus on the home stretch and engage consumers online – well after the opening hours of major store.”
Ross McDonald, Google’s retail head of marketing, identifies his top tips for small online retailers:
1. Take advantage of this year’s trends. Use Google Insights for Search or Keyword Tools to identify “hot” products being searched for right now.
2. Engage loyal consumers. Identify top searches to drive loyalty programs online. Create a sense of exclusivity and urgency by offering ‘limited release’ on top searches products or ‘first-look’ offers.
3. Stay searchable after store doors close. Having your best services and products online means that you can still attract shoppers’ attention well after store doors close.
4. Be everywhere. Have your Christmas specials present both online and offline. Make sure your website is on direct flyers and posters. Entice visitors to the website by offering online vouchers.
5. Keep an eye on the clock. Remind customers of your opening hours and share up-to-date, last-possible delivery dates.
According to McDonald, staying searchable is particularly important at Christmas time as consumers often have limited timeframes in which to shop for gifts.
He says up to 30% of retail searches occur outside extended trading hours, and 50% outside standard trading hours.
“People are looking for Christmas items late at night, early in the morning or even in between meetings. They have a whole bunch of people to shop for and only a few timeslots available, so it’s really important you’re easily found online to ensure you’re a part of the choice set for Christmas shopping,” he says.
“Keeping an eye on the clock means reminding people of how much time they have. For instance, it could be the last shipping day or a product could be about to run out, so remind people that now is a great time to take action.”
“Also, if you no longer stock an item because you’ve run out, try and secure more or shop around for alternate products.”
McDonald says businesses also need to consider the seasonality of their products or services in order to prepare for, and capitalise on, their busiest trading periods.