So, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are done and dusted, and like many online retailers, you may have had a cracking result, or it may have been a lacklustre affair.

If it’s the latter, fear not, as there’s still plenty of time to make sure you don’t miss out on Christmas shoppers in the run up to the festive period.

As with the preparing for Black Friday post we published last month, there are some crucial things you need to get right – and some final tweaks you can make to drive traffic and increase conversions too.

The product page

Yeah, we love sexy looking e-commerce product pages. Well written, enticing copy, high-quality images, clearly displayed product info, an easily locatable delivery and returns policy, and clear calls to action can all make a page look fabulous. Mmmm, yeah.

Missguided is a business that has grown a crazy amount over the last few years. For the most part, their online experience is pretty darn good, so let’s take a look at how they fair.

First impressions are good. There is a lovely girl wearing the product, and you can see this hairy dress from loads of different angles, as well as in detail thanks to the cracking zoom functionality. It’s missing a 360 degree view, and doesn’t have a snazzy video, but I’ll forgive them for that.

The sizing examples give a good indication of fit, and just in case, there is a size guide.

The product name is well-optimised, and the product information is clearly displayed.

Loving the countdown timer for next day delivery and massive ‘add to bag’ call to action button too.

But even big brands don’t always get it right. There are a couple of clangers in the copy for this hairy dress:

preparing your site for christmas shoppers - misguided - browser media

via missguided.co.uk

While bigger, more well known brands may get away with this, smaller brands may not. For me, it ruins the page (and yes, I am picky), but why go to the effort of writing unique product descriptions if you’re not going to proofread them?

Other than that, although the font is small, the rest of this product landing page is what most shoppers will expect to see in 2015 – and in my opinion, it meets my expectations. There are retailers out there doing it better, but this is a good example of what should be achievable.

The crucial thing to remember is that while you may think your product landing page looks totally tits, users may not be as bowled over by it. If in doubt, test it.

The checkout process

I can honestly say that the Clinique mobile site checkout process tested my patience to a whole new level (not that I am renowned for being patient, but anyway, let’s explore what’s wrong with it).

preparing your site for christmas shoppers - clinique - browser media

preparing your site for christmas shoppers - clinique - browser media

via clinique.co.uk

First of all, could this page be any longer? This is the page I was presented with AFTER already choosing to pay with PayPal, so I was somewhat surprised that my order wasn’t already confirmed.

Then, every time I clicked the ‘place order’ button (yeah, the tiny grey one hiding in the millions of other buttons and fields and text), it redirected me back to the top of the page. “Maybe I have to create an account?” I thought. Wrong. Same problem. “Maybe if I tick all of the boxes?” nope. “Sign up to the email and SMS alerts too?” still nope.

The biggest issue I have in this instance is that there was no indication of an error – or what was causing it. After 10 minutes of clicking about and swearing, I spoke to them on live chat – but they only give out product advice and couldn’t help with the checkout issue.

All in all, the checkout process for me was a disaster. If I hadn’t wanted to try out the freebie so bad, I would have bailed immediately. Plus, I’m really lazy sometimes.

Eventually I got off my arse and completed the purchase on my laptop.

Users want a checkout process to be simple and clear to understand. This is one of the busiest pages I have ever encountered in a checkout process. There is very little good to say about it. Here are some things to bear in mind when designing your checkout page:

  • Keep your checkout pages uncluttered
  • Allow for guest checkout options
  • Have a checkout that breaks down the process into steps so the user can see how easy it is to make the purchase with minimal faffing
  • Display payment and delivery options clearly
  • Make the CTA clear
  • Highlight that the process is secure
  • Auto-populate fields if possible (who wants to type in a billing/delivery address twice if it’s the same)
  • If there is an error, use clear indicators to tell them what it is

Also, do you think discount codes are a good idea? They might not always be as they can encourage cart abandonment. Eep.

Drive that traffic

Having a well optimised site is, of course, only half the battle. Here are some things to consider to help drive traffic:

  • Use paid search – particularly Google Shopping ads if you are selling a visual product. Remarketing can also be a great way to re-engage past visitors
  • Post on social media like a beast – boring text posts ain’t gonna cut it. Get creative and make suggestions of what people can buy for Christmas and post some well styled/shot images of your products. For great offers and content that you’ve created, consider sponsored posts/Tweets to increase reach. Both Pinterest and Polyvore can be great for driving traffic – build boards and sets using your products with Christmassy titles to help shoppers find what they are looking for
  • Blog about your products and then share that on social media too – entice shoppers with gift guide stylee posts, as well as party season ideas
  • Make sure your site is being indexed properly – having an up-to-date sitemap will help, and make sure you aren’t blocking any crucial resources from being indexed in the robots.txt. As a general rule, the number of pages being indexed should be fairly close to the number of pages in your sitemap
  • Optimise your images for a better chance of being found – Google Image search is often the first port of call for shoppers that need inspiration

If you are still wondering what might be bothering your users the most, have a little read of this post by Matt about frustrations he’s encountered while shopping online.