The countdown to Black Friday has begun. However, this year, it’s expected to look a little more “blue” than black as Australian consumers grapple with sky-high mortgage repayments and higher rents. In fact, experts forecast spending will minimise, posing quite the contrast to last year’s “Freedom Christmas” which saw consumer spending at record highs in the lead-up to the holiday season.

Looking for a great deal, many consumers have likely been readying their Christmas wishlists in recent weeks. They’re keeping an eye on whether the perfect TV, hair product, tool and toy will be practically given away. And oftentimes, they’re already adding their products to cart to get a headstart.

Research indicates that Australians have embraced online shopping, with more than five million households actively participating in this digital retail trend. In fact, the industry is worth over AU$47 billion dollars, up 8.9% from 2021. As the online retail market continues to thrive and evolve, the pressure is on for eCommerce retailers to get it right.

If online shopping carts freeze, a customer encounters a 404 error, or site visitors can’t find what they’re after, they will leave the store and put their money in someone else’s cart – a costly error. Storyblok research reveals that 60% of consumers regularly abandon purchases due to poor website user experience with businesses estimating it costs, on average, AU$108,000 in lost sales per year.

There are many things you can do to avoid being one of those retailers. Below, we compiled a checklist that you can go through to ensure your online store is nice – not naughty – in the eyes of shoppers this Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the days leading up to the big day.

10 ways to make your online store shine bright this Christmas

  1. Keep it simple: On average, a person makes 35,000 decisions every day. Instead of adding to the noise, make it simple for your visitors to choose the perfect item in your online store. If the page is too busy and customers become distracted or feel overwhelmed, they’ll leave and shop somewhere else.
  2. Carefully select images: Images play a huge role in promoting your products and creating an understanding of your website as a whole. Therefore, it can be tempting to go ‘image bonanza’ and bombard users with many beautiful photos. However, this can quickly backfire,  turning into an off-putting, cluttered store. Bonus tip: Make sure your images load quickly by using a CDN or an image editing program or service that can reduce the image size without compromising quality.
  3. Grab customers’ attention without creating confusion: Graphics and visuals are an effective way to communicate with your audience instantly. They make it easy to capture their attention, helping to guide users on their journey. However, it is not as simple as placing photos anywhere in an empty space. It’s important that graphics are placed in the right place to have the greatest effect.
    If there are many flashy images and graphics, two different navigation menus and a pop-up side menu all vying for the user’s attention – what should customers click on first? Perhaps this sounds familiar because it is the same experience many people get when they open a streaming service – and it often ends with not being able to decide on what to watch.
  4. Use the right CMS that masters omnichannel e-commerce: Many online stores use multiple CMSs (content management systems) to manage website content and online stores. But it can quickly turn into an e-commerce version of Frankenstein’s monster if the different CMSs do not communicate, work against each other or affect website functionality and speed. All of this ultimately results in fewer sales for businesses, according to Storyblok’s latest report.
    It also affects the website’s display speed and performance, and the consequence is a lack of responsiveness and visual stability, making it more difficult to use the websites and reducing the conversion rate.
  5. Local beats global: Regardless of whether your customers are from the same city as you or if they live on the other side of the world, you should make sure to adapt your online store’s content to meet certain geographical locations. In short, different audiences have different tastes. One-size-fits-all sites often have a hard time catering to a diverse customer base – a customer base that could potentially put good money into your store.
    Remember that a solid localisation strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It should be part of your plan from the start to ensure your business is ready and able to reach new markets. This includes steps like conducting market research and choosing technology that is ready to scale.
  6. Optimise for mobile devices: An increasing number of people are using their smartphones and tablets to shop online, so it’s important to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. This means that your site should be easy to navigate on smaller screens, and the checkout process should be streamlined for mobile users. A slow, clunky mobile experience can lead to frustrated customers and importantly, lost sales.
  7. Provide excellent customer service: During Black Friday and other high-volume sales days, good customer service can make all the difference in keeping customers happy and coming back. Make sure that you have a team in place to answer questions and resolve issues quickly and efficiently. This can help to build trust with your customers and increase their loyalty to your brand.
  8. Offer deals and promotions: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about deals and discounts, so consider offering special promotions to attract customers to your site. This can include free shipping, buy-one-get-one-free deals or discounts on certain products or categories. Just be sure to set clear terms and conditions for your promotions to avoid any confusion or disappointment.
  9. Test your site’s performance: With so many people shopping online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s important to ensure that your website can handle the increased traffic. Test your site’s performance in advance to identify and fix any issues that could slow down your site or cause it to crash. This can help to ensure that your customers have a smooth shopping experience and that you don’t miss out on any sales.
  10. Follow-up with customers: After the excitement of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is over, it’s important to follow up with your customers to thank them for their business and encourage them to return. This can include sending personalised emails or offering special promotions for repeat customers. By building relationships with your customers, you can create a loyal customer base that will continue to support your business in the future.

Marcus Paterson is sales director for APAC at Storyblok.