Small online retail businesses have a lot to be merry about this holiday season. Up from last year, almost half of holiday shopping will happen online (versus in-person) according to the National Retail Federation. In addition over 20% of purchases will be made on a mobile device. These points are supported by the Custora HoliData 2015 report (see below). If that’s not a reason to improve your mobile web presence, I don’t know what is!

mobile online orders

And when customer experience is so critical for holiday shoppers, now is the time to improve your the overall buying process. Loyalty program management company, LoyaltyOne released a report in October citing 47% of Cyber Monday shoppers would be reluctant to make in-store purchases from a retailer if they’ve had a poor online experience. As I’ve stated in a previous post, customer experience will be one of the key differentiating factors this season.

So how do you create this amazing online shopping experience? Here are three tips!

Answer questions instantly

Most people are slammed during the holidays. If online shoppers have to spend extra time to find answers about shipping or returns, they might run away. Make sure it’s easy to find answers to simple questions. In fact, a survey by Forrester Research found that 55% of U.S. online adults say they will abandon an online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer! And I get it. I have a low tolerance for digging around a website when I’m ready to buy. Nevermind the time crunch of last-minute gift giving. One of the best ways to give instant answers is with live chat software. This 2015 Microsoft report shows that live chat is the second most preferred channel in the United States. Help a shopper out. Give them the quick answers they seek through the channels they prefer the most.

preferred customer support channels

Make it personal

When we think of Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, we envision a horde of shoppers descending on our shop or online store. This may not always be the case. Your customers aren’t nameless, faceless credit cards. They’re human. Creating a personal and attentive shopping experience is, well, refreshing. Instead of planning for the masses, plan to make your shopping experience personal.

Maximize your brand

If you’re investing in driving traffic to your website or sharing a promotion this holiday season, make the most of it. Showcase the more unique aspects of your brand! In a sea of shopping experiences, your brand should stand out. There’s something special about your company and products that attracted those shoppers in the first place. It’s time to double-down!

Instead of offering the steepest discount, deliver the best online experience. The same Forrester Research survey found that 77% of online shoppers said that the most valuable thing you can do is value their time and deliver good service. Time is so valuable. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Create the shopping experience for them that you would want for yourself. Buck the trends. Create that remarkable experience and you’ll have customers for years, not just this month. I hope these tips are helpful. If you have other ideas that have worked for your small business during the holidays, please share them in the comments below! Cheers!