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Christmas is for Closers: Three Absolute Last-Minute Holiday E-Comm Tactics

Posted on 12.19.2016

By Thom O’Leary, Fixer Group Consulting 

It is officially the last minute for holiday sales.

Whether it’s due to tradition or anticipation of better deals, many people don’t even start their online holiday shopping until late November, and this is pretty typical consumer behavior. Those who still have online shopping to do this week, however, well, that’s pushing it.

These are the holiday shopping extremists. They forget, they procrastinate, they can’t decide, they put it off, or maybe they just work in e-commerce or retail and have no time to do their own gift shopping. It is days or even hours before shipping cutoffs for holiday delivery and they need shopping solutions. As an e-comm professional, this is your golden opportunity to convert their problems into gifts.

These last-minute shoppers may be looking for extreme bargains, have a few people left on their list, or may be looking for convenience instead of going out to shop.  

Here are three simple-to-implement tactics to capture these last-minute shoppers with your online store, inspire all the holiday conversions you can and save your customers a trip to the mall at the same time.

Engage with Abandoners

Running cart abandonment emails and retargeting/remarketing ads year round is a standard practice. The holiday season is the time to make some adjustments and open the floodgates.

Depending on which provider or system(s) you use, it should be simple to increase the frequency of your abandoned cart emails with specific holiday messaging in the subject line (e.g. “It’s Not Too Late” or “Free Expedited Shipping - Get It in Time").  If this extra nudge is effective at other times of the year, it can be even more effective during peak shopping days. Dial it up.

Retargeting ads have frequency caps and only run for a certain period after a customer has left your site. Typically, these are settings you can control.  Turn up the number of times to serve ads to each individual site abandoner, increase bids and expand the timeline to site visitors who have not been on your site in two or more months.  

It’s now or never to bring these past visitors into the fold, so the money you spend now is probably the best chance you have to improve return on ad spend (ROAS) from this pool of visitors all year.

Reward Early Bird Gift Givers

There is a good chance that anyone who purchased from your store on Black Friday/Cyber Monday or in the few weeks since then was (1) buying a gift and (2) has already received their order from you. You took the time to design your packaging, make sure your products are great quality and the customer experience was a positive one.  Those customers trusted you to give them a great shopping experience and you did.

Now is the time for a repeat performance. Reward your (recent) customers for their loyalty.  

Consider offering anyone who purchased from you in the past month free expedited shipping and/or a discount to order from you again. If Black Friday/Cyber Monday was their first purchase from you, now may be the time for a quick follow-up purchase.

These customers are much more likely to re-buy from you than a first-time visitor since they have already seen your product in hand and had a great experience with you. If there is still someone on their list they need to find a gift for, you are positioned to be their solution.  

It also helps set up a pattern of behavior of turning to your brand when gifts need to be given, which helps your lifetime value (LTV) in the long run.

Digital Gift Cards Stop the Clock

Once the expedited shipping cutoff has been reached - or if you have a strong international shopper base - be prepared to switch your messaging to focus on digital/e-gift cards. This messaging needs to go beyond just having these items on your site… they need to be positioned front and center.

This can be as simple as a homepage graphic, a global message in your top navigation or a recommended product appearing on every product page.  A final pre-holiday email or two can be all it takes to push last-minute shoppers over the edge.

While it’s not critical to have a nice, downloadable graphic representation of the gift card to be presented by the gift giver, it can be a nice, premium touch. The more of a pre-packaged solution you can provide to last-minute shoppers, the better. Time is not their ally, so giving them the option to print out a beautiful representation of a gift can be enough to seal the deal.

The holiday season is a massive opportunity for e-retailers even up to the last minute. Anyone who is shopping online in the final days and hours before Christmas is experiencing a problem, and if you can provide the solution there is an opportunity to close the season with some extra sales.

Immediately after the holiday (think… Dec. 26), be ready to push out new messaging via retargeting, on-site and email.  Many people have holiday money to spend and returns to make, so be ready to remind them of what they really wanted.

Enjoy the holiday season and close on a strong note.

About the Author

Thom O'Leary runs Fixer Group Consulting, where he helps successful online stores to double. You can find him at

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