So you’ve just finished carving your Jack O’ Lantern, but major retail stores are already piping holiday tunes into their PA systems. Why?

The days of waiting for Black Friday to kick off the deals are over. Since the conception of Cyber Monday, online shoppers have come to expect deals equal to (and often better than) their offline counterparts. As a result, shoppers are now seeking out those deals even earlier.

In 2011, overall sales were expected to be lower than the previous year due to a sluggish economy; but according to Google, an ample 21% bounce is expected this holiday season. With shoppers looking to spend more, how can you snag more sales?

Tips to capture more buyers

It’s true, time isn’t on your side. 40% of people have already started their holiday shopping. But fear not, there are some things you can do:

1) Theme your site to make the experience festive and your deals conspicuous.

2) There’s no reason to wait until Black Friday if you can get your website updated now.

3) Shipping costs are one of the highest causes of cart abandonment, so offer (and be sure to showcase) free shipping if your margins can handle it.

Also, think tablets.

Convert research traffic

With tablets being the most popular content consumption device, retailers with tablet-optimized websites are going to benefit in a big way. This year’s shoppers are explicitly looking for deals and the majority will do their research online.

13% of shoppers plan to watch online videos to help with shopping research, and 48% will use tablets to read product reviews before purchasing. Ensure your site’s shopping experience is tablet-optimized so those researching can find what they need quickly. And while you’re at it, make sure your deals and promotions are front and center, so you can convert the people who found their deal!

Prepare for shoppers on all devices

Last year, 1 in 4 shoppers used multiple devices to shop, and roughly 9% of sales came from mobile devices. Expect those numbers to skyrocket this year.

Being mobile-ready may appear to be time-consuming, but your buyers increasingly expect an easy-to-use experience on all of their devices. Disappointing them will result in lost sales and drive them to your competitors.

If you can only optimize for one new device this year, make it the iPad. These users display unique usage characteristics in terms of increased average order value, conversion rate and overall engagement.

Display clear shipping cutoff dates

Nothing will anger your customers more than buying an item only to realize it won’t arrive in time for the holidays. It’s one thing to have this info buried on a “terms of use” page, but you know your average customer isn’t reading that.

Be clear with site-wide countdown scripts or explicit call-outs on checkout pages when a shipment is expected to be delivered. USPSFedEx andUPS all have their own terms and dates. Double-check your methods and be very clear and accurate so your customers view you as honest and dependable. This helps lead to future purchases.

Plant seeds for the new year

End the 4th quarter big and start off 2013 right.

Giving holiday shoppers a positive experience will result in repeat sales throughout the year. Clear return policies, mobile and tablet offerings, and free shipping are all things shoppers will appreciate and remember once the holiday decorations come down.

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