A Guide to Selling More Than Ever Before This Holiday Season 🎁

holiday statistics for online sellers

Screw sugarplums… dollar signs are what’s dancing in every business owner’s head this holiday season.

And with good reason — consumer spending was off the charts in 2016 with a grand-total of $91,700,000,000.

But guess what?

Just because consumers are spending a sh*t-ton of money during the holiday season doesn’t guarantee you’ll see an increase in sales this year.

In fact, you could even see a decrease if you don’t plan properly.

Luckily, an amazingly useful survey from TrustPilot just came out that is filled with statistics that’ll help you put the holiday season in a headlock.

Use these holiday statistics to sell more than ever before throughout the merriest shopping season of them all!

Making It Rain (or Snow): 2016 Holiday Statistics 

Whoa. Shoppers spent a lot of dough in 2016 — but not every business was lucky enough to see an increase in sales, as the stats from TrustPilot’s survey shows us.

Check ’em out:

  • Shoppers spent a total of $91.7B in November/December 2016
  • Over $3B was spent daily on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Thanksgiving
  • Over $1B daily was spent in 57 out of the 61 days

Not all business owners saw a piece of that holiday-shopping pie, however:

  • 40% of retailers experienced a 48% average revenue growth during Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • 60% of retailers experienced an 8% decline in average revenue growth

Holiday Shoppers Are Talking About You

The amount of shoppers leaving online reviews spikes hard in November and December — which should tell you two things:

  1. You need to step up your game in every area, from shipping to customer-response time, to ensure you get good reviews
  2. You need to have more reviews — as many as you can possibly get.

Check out these holiday statistics about reviews:

  • Over 690,000 reviews were left in December 2015
  • Over 900,000 reviews were left in December 2016
  • In 2015, review searches on Trustpilot spiked to 460,000
  • In 2016, review searches on Trustpilot spiked to 480,000

OK, so shoppers leave a boatload of reviews (both negative and positive) during the holiday season, and they use review sites to check the reputation of businesses before making a purchase.

That’s not exactly a shocker.

But it does confirm something critical — that you need to have a process in place year-round for not only responding to reviews and resolving issues quickly, but getting more people to review your business.

Words Most-Often Found in Negative Reviews

What are customers most unhappy with during the holidays?

Customer service and shipping were mentioned most — showing business owners that ‘wowing’ customers in this area is a must.

  • “Customer service” was the most common two-word phrase used in 1-star reviews.
  • The use of “shipping” in 1-star reviews increased by 38% from October to December.

Words Most-Often Found in Positive Reviews

Going above and beyond for your customers has a two-fold return: you get happy customers who are likely to buy again and you increase the likelihood of getting a good review or a positive word-of-mouth referral.

Here’s what customers mention the most in positive reviews during the holidays:

  • Variations on customer service appeared across the top five most commonly used two-word phrases in 5-star reviews.
  • Delivery” was one of the top five most common words found in 5-star reviews (and its appearance rate among 1-star reviews increased by 13% from October to December).
  • Variations on delivery speed were also commonly used in 5-star reviews (“fast delivery,” “quick delivery”).

Your Holiday Plan of Attack 

Now that you’re armed with holiday statistics that clearly show what attracts and detracts holiday shoppers, it’s time to get your plan of attack together.

Follow the steps outlined below to build/enhance your business’s reputation and exposure.

Find (and Respond to) Online Reviews 

Do you know what people are saying about your business?

If not, this should be a high-priority item on your getting-ready-for-the-holidays list.

  • Scour review sites like Trustpilot, Yelp, Google My Business, Manta, SiteJabber, and more to see what customers are saying about your business.
  • Respond publicly to any negative reviews by saying you’re sorry they had this experience and you want to make it right.
  • Ask them to email or call you directly so you can learn more. This will show that you’re a proactive business owner who cares and responds.
  • Set up alerts so you’re notified when new mentions of your business hit the internet. (Don’t rely solely on this as you might miss some mentions.) Try Google Alerts, Talkwalker, and SocialMention.

Find (and Respond to) Social Media Mentions

Whether it’s an angry tweet about your business from one Twitter user to another or a direct mention on Facebook from an unhappy customer, it’s your job to find these mentions and respond.

  • Search for mentions of your business (on a regular basis) on all social media sites.
  • Respond to positive reviews with a ‘like’ or a personal comment.
  • Respond to negative reviews with an apology and a request for more information through a DM, phone call, or email — which then will take the conversation offline.
  • Do this on a regular basis.

Focus on Getting More Reviews

As the holiday statistics from Trustpilot show, it’s crucial for you to get as many reviews as possible.

In fact, Trustpilot notes that, “the number of reviews a company has highly influences consumer opinions.”

Here’s how to build up your reviews:

  • Send customers an email asking for a review after they’ve made a purchase to increase your odds of getting more reviews.
  • Send an email to past customers asking them to review the product(s) purchased and/or your business.
  • Keep doing this — and avoid offering incentives for a review (ahem, bribes) because that too can earn you a negative review.

Become a Customer-Service Superstar 

You don’t want to be one of those business owners who sees a decrease in sales during the holidays, right?

Then you’re going to need to step it up majorly when it comes to customer service.

Know that each time you let a phone call go unanswered or don’t respond to an email for a few days, it can turn into a bad review and lost sales.

Clearly State Your Customer-Service Response Timeframe

  • Will you respond to customer service requests within 48 hours? 24 hours? 2 hours? Set your customer-service timeframe and stick to it.
  • Aim to always be under your timeframe, and never over.
  • Have your policy clearly stated everywhere, from your online store’s ‘about’ section to your Facebook’s ‘about’ section so customers know what to expect.
  • Consider setting up an automated email response to customer-service tickets or a chatbot that replies to customer service messages on social media letting them know you’ve received their email and they can expect a reply in X hours/days.

Respond Within the Specified Timeframe on All Mediums

  • Answer customer-service phone calls as quickly as possible (and make sure you have a professional voice message set up to address the calls you miss).
  • Return any missed calls within your specified timeframe.
  • Respond to customer-service emails and messages on social sites within your specified timeframe.
  • Consider implementing customer service chat so you can answer customer questions in real time.

Change Your Shipping Policy to Accommodate Holiday Shoppers

  • Offering free shipping is the way to holiday shoppers’ hearts (and wallets), so reconsider if you don’t already offer this.
  • Consider reducing your normal shipping time so shoppers can get gifts faster.
  • Offer ‘guaranteed delivery by 12/24’ for online orders to skyrocket holiday sales.
  • All of the above will entice holiday shoppers to buy, but be sure you clearly state you offer free shipping/expedited shipping everywhere possible so shoppers are sure to see these offers.

Don’t Be Stubborn: Hire Extra Holiday Help if Needed 

Trustpilot suggests, “Even if it’s a short-term investment, having additional staff, resources, and oversight to ensure customers are tended to and are receiving the right packages quickly, can prove beneficial to your reputation.”

As you saw in the review holiday statistics earlier, “customer service” and “shipping” were mentioned most often negatively and “customer service” and “shipping” were mentioned most often positively.

Moral of the story?

  • If you can’t meet the demands of holiday shoppers, they will go elsewhere.

But if you decide to hire holiday help, keep this in mind… “Sales and customer service are two different departments,” notes Trustpilot.

“Retailers often staff up in their sales department but without the proper training or additional customer service staff, your consumers (and subsequent reviews) may suffer.”

Don’t Make Santa Sad: Reduce Abandoned Shopping Carts

According to holiday statistics from Trustpilot, consumers are abandoning their shopping carts in incredibly high numbers:

  • Over $4.6T of sales were abandoned in online shopping carts in 2016’s holiday shopping season.

Here’s how to prevent shoppers from jumping ship at the last moment:

  • Check your shipping costs. Are they outrageously — and unfairly — high? Lower them or offer free shipping for the holidays.
  • Check your shipping timeframe. If you can offer faster shipping options for an additional fee, do it. If you only offer one timeframe for shipping, make it as quick as possible. And be sure to guarantee delivery by Christmas if ordered by X date if possible.
  • Have a fair return policy that works for both you and your customers. If a shopper sees your return policy at checkout and it says something like, “all sales are final” or “returns can be exchanged for store-credit only,” you’re probably going to see your fair share of shopping cart abandonment.
  • Get more reviews. (Again with the reviews!) But it’s true… the more positive reviews you have, the more likely shoppers are to go through with the purchase. Feature some of your best reviews on your online store and website too.

Revving Up for More Revenue 

Getting more sales during the holidays isn’t a simple process. From monitoring reviews to stepping up fulfillment and shipping, there’s a lot that goes into enticing shoppers to buy. (And buy again.) (And leave positive reviews.)

Everything outlined in this post will help you catch a fish that’s already on the line — but you’re still going to need a holiday marketing strategy to entice more fish to take a bite. (OK, that’s enough of that fish analogy.)

Check out these posts for help with your holiday marketing strategy — and good luck this holiday season!

Which of these holiday statistics resonated with you the most? 

About the Author

Shannon Willoby

Shannon is the director of content marketing for Scott's Marketplace and has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. (Or crayon.) When she's not blogging, you can find her daydreaming that she's Khaleesi from Game of Thrones.

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