By Susan Delly
November 14, 2012
The holidays are right around the corner which means holiday shopping is revving up for another busy season. OH NO!!! For many people, this type of extreme buying is burdened by stress and indecision (when it should be a fun celebration of friends and family). Because of this stress, consumers are flocking to the internet for their holiday shopping needs. Shopping online is associated with convenience and saving money but there are other tools of the online shopping world that will help to make your 2012 holiday shopping spree as stress-free as possible. (Online store owners take note… your online store should offer some, if not all of these features to your holiday shoppers!)
Here are a few of my favorite things… err, favorite holiday shopping features, I mean.
- Customer Reviews
I <3 customer reviews. They are the best tool for determining the quality and function of a product before we buy it. If you have a smart phone, you can look up reviews while shopping brick-n-mortar stores but they’re especially helpful when shopping online because you do not get the chance to see products in real life before you purchase (and possibly ship) them. Online stores that offer customer reviews not only help their customer base but they also increase content for their site, making it more SEO friendly.
- Product Recommendations
Sometimes you can still be unsure of a product, even when it has glowing reviews. If the site you’re shopping has product recommendations on the side, however, you can quickly and easily move from one similar product to the next instead of leaving that website and going to another. Product recommendations help indecisive buyers by recommending other like items. This either strengthens a positive opinion of the 1st product or helps you move on to the next. Keeping shoppers on your site instead of losing them to another leads to increased sales for eMerchants, far and wide!
- Online Wish Lists
Ahh, wish lists, the virtual dream registry. When I discover a friend has a wish list going on their favorite web shop, I feel like I’ve found the pot’o’gold at the end of the rainbow. Wishlists ensure that I pick something they like and it lets me shop around in their favorites for something that I would like to send them, as well. It’s a win-win situation. Now… how do we get all of our friends and family to make them before the holidays?
- Online Gift Certificates
The safety of an online gift certificate is appealing to many. It’s easy to buy, you don’t have to wrap it and… most people love getting them. They’ve become so easy that nowadays, you don’t even have to buy a card for one; instead, you can send it by email! Emailed gift certificates make sure that they recipient gets it on time (even if you bought it late), and ensures that they can’t lose it before they spend it (like I did a million times with cards of the past). Other than the fact that they’re a little boring, there’s really no downside to an online gift card.
What on EARTH do you get for the person who has everything? Or for your crunchy friends who hate consumerism? Or for your friends with ‘causes’? Taking the altruistic approach to holiday cheer is the best way for many and a great way to share the spirit of the holiday in a kind way. My personal favorite site is Kiva but it was pretty awesome when my parents donated a goat to a family in S. America for my last birthday present! Other great charities include our SF local, Help a Mother Out, and Charity Choice, the site that allows you to set an amount and have your giftee pick their own charity out of a list of over 250!
Shopping online for the holidays has definitely opened up a way to avoid the holiday rush, crowds and crazy drivers. Keep these features on the top of your brain so you can utilize them to find the best possible gifts for your friends, loved ones or the local charity Christmas tree! And if you’re an eMerchant as well as a holiday shopper, make sure your eCommerce solution software is optimized with some of these great features.