6 Tips For Retail Conversion Optimisation During The Holiday Period

Sales, holidays and particularly the Christmas period can be difficult times for retailers. Alongside the added pressures that come from greater traffic, it’s important to realise that your visitors will behave differently during these times.

Often they’ll be more motivated to buy, with conversion rates increasing as a bigger proportion of traffic is in a purchasing mindset. You’ll also get a different visitor profile with more visitors who aren’t familiar with your offering and brand.

Despite that, many retailers rely on the things that have worked for them throughout the year which, although predictable, can give a substandard experience and significantly harm conversion rates during these peak periods.

To avoid that, try some of our 6 tips to make sure you take advantage of the extra traffic and get a great conversion rate during peak periods:

‍#1 Clearly share details of returns policies

Returns, especially at Christmas are more important than ever. So many people are buying items as gifts, one of the big concerns is whether the person they’re giving the gift to would be able to return it if it’s wrong.

Even when sites have extended returns policies, it needs to be promoted as one of the most important pieces of information on the site during the Christmas period.

Get it in the header and on all your product pages, so that people don’t worry and are more keen to buy:

Returns options shown clearly
Show the details of extended returns periods prominently on the site.

‍#2 Give guidance and help to people buying as a gift

‍Giving gifts can be hard and when faced with thousands of products, stores and options, people struggle, so offering some guidance can go a long way.

Firebox do a great job of helping their users. Not only do they have typical categories of “Gifts for Her” and “Under £50”, they offer selections for different personalities like “Geeks” and “Animal Lovers”:

Gift guides on Firebox.com   
Firebox offers gift guides for all sorts of categories including “Gifts for Geeks”

Spending some time curating different selections of products and writing “buyers guides” and blogs can be hugely valuable in increasing conversion. By giving added value to your users, there is a huge opportunity to help them find and buy something great. Just make sure you publicise them well. During the holiday period they shouldn’t be hidden in menus or on the blog, so make them front and centre of your site.

‍#3 Make it easy to buy a gift cards

Even if the user can’t find something they want to buy on your site, there’s still a great opportunity to save the sale. The Christmas and holiday period is perfect for selling gift cards yet most sites hide this option in the footer, restricting them to people who are particularly searching for them:

Gift cards shown in the footer of a site
Usually, gift card options are hidden in the site’s footer as an afterthought

‍Offering gift cards can be a big conversion boost at Christmas, whether that’s a banner at the bottom of Product Listing pages, an exit popup or a message for users who dwell on the site for a long time:

Wireframe of a message at the bottom of the page promoting gift cards
A message at the bottom of the Product Listing page encouraging users to buy a gift card can be a good way to generate a sale from users who aren’t sure what to buy

‍If you already have a gift card offering, its as simple as adding the right messaging and you can immediately start capturing lost sales and increasing revenue.

‍#4 Optimise your checkout for minimal effort

‍Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the peak shopping days but with millions of people battling for bargains, the checkout process needs to be quick and easy. This is particularly important for new users, who may have discovered your site through an amazing deal.

Forcing people through complex registration processes at this stage can kill your conversion rate, so focus on a quick and easy guest checkout during sales. Hide as many distractions as you can and intelligently reduce the number of pieces of information the user has to provide.

John Lewis do a great job of this, whether it’s from the simple login page:

The simple checkout at John Lewis
John Lewis use a very simple login/signup page on their checkout to make the process as easy as possible

‍to a delivery page that only asks for the minimal information for your chosen method:

John Lewis delivery options
The delivery page in the John Lewis checkout minimises the information the user needs to enter and hides all unnecessary fields

‍Although it can be time consuming to make changes to the checkout process, it can really pay off as users dropping out at this stage were very advanced in the buying cycle and ready to purchase.

‍#5 Make a big deal of scarcity – especially for sales

‍Scarcity, particularly during a sale, is a great way to encourage people to convert, but even if you have plenty of stock or you aren’t able to show live availability, you can still take advantage of scarcity and urgency to compel people to act.

Labeling items as “Final Sale” or “Clearance” can give the impression of very limited stocks:

Product showing a final sale price
Labeling an item as being a final discount can give the impression of a limited time offer

‍Similarly, time limited discounts, sales and coupons give people a reason to act now rather than leaving your site:

Banner showing a countdown to the end of a discount
A limited availability voucher code can encourage people to complete their purchases without leaving the site
Discount sticker showing "this week only"
Time limited discounts can encourage users to buy

‍Even just building time pressures around delivery deadlines can be enough to push people to buy rather than going to another site.

Amazon use a countdown to the delivery cutoff time to bring an urgency factor into their product pages

‍The key is to find a simple, effective urgency message and to show it to users at the right time. Just be careful not to overdo it or people will become become blind to the message and it will have no effect.

#6 Keep testing!

‍Many business stop testing during sales and peak periods. Often this comes from a fear that “we can’t break anything on the site during this time”, but if you have a reliable approach to testing this is actually one of the best times to make changes.

The key during these periods is to make sure you keep your research and learnings separate – you can’t expect test results during sales or at Christmas to reflect your traffic’s normal behaviour. Instead, run and turnaround tests and research as fast as you can.

A quick, effective test in late November can make a huge difference to your revenue throughout December, and for very large sites, you can start sending more traffic to leading variations even while your test is still running.

Fundamentally, stopping testing at peak periods can be very risky for your business. It is the time when you can make the biggest gains, but also when you could be making your biggest mistakes without even knowing.


‍Christmas, Cyber Monday and any sales period can be particularly challenging for retailers but rather than cutting back on testing and trying to rely on “what always works” this is the time to make sure your offering is right for your customers at that time, and a huge opportunity to boost conversion rates when your traffic is highest.Browser to Buyer works with companies worldwide to significantly increase their conversion rate and sales. By running research to understand what stops your visitors converting and testing new versions of pages to overcome that, we typically increase clients’ sales by 10-30% within the first few months. If you’d like to find out more about how we could help you, give us a call.

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