The 2017 holiday shopping season is around the corner. Selecting products and deals to spotlight — beginning November 1 — is key for most online businesses. Grabbing the attention of your store’s target audiences, however, goes beyond deep discounts and free shipping.

There’s time to implement five must-haves before Halloween has come and gone.

Collect User Generated Content

User generated content ranks higher than ever, especially with younger shoppers. Product reviews, user-submitted photos and videos, and testimonials are the best way to sway shoppers to click the add-to-cart button. If your product line lacks a good amount of quality feedback, there are a few workarounds.

  • Send one-time, follow up emails to customers, asking for a product review. If you’ve never sent such requests, target those who have purchased in last 90 days. Offering a special coupon or prize entry in exchange for an honest review is good incentive.
  • Host a customer photo or video contest. Invite customers to show off their use of your products by submitting media via the website or by using a designated hashtag across social media networks. Then, use scripts to display the media on the website or on product pages.
  • Follow certain hashtags and keywords on social networks so you can ask users permission to publish photos that feature your products.
  • Update confirmation emails and packing slips to explain how customers can send you photos of products in use.
  • Focus on community building rather than selling when encouraging customers to submit UCG. This will entice them to get involved.
Squishable product page showing reviews and UCG.

Squishable has spent years building and maintaining its community of customers and fans. UCG includes fan photos and quality reviews.

While garnering a vast amount of UCG overnight isn’t feasible, now is the time to get the ball rolling. Even small bits of content helps, and taking action now provides a solid foundation for the coming months and years.

Use Volume Pricing

Volume pricing helps sell more of the same and, also, mix-and-match products. Offering even nominal discounts (5-10 percent) for purchasing more than one of the same or a similar item is a good way to increase order totals. This simple pricing structure also helps remind shoppers of others who might enjoy the same gift.

Retro Planet candy page with volume pricing options.

Retro Planet offers volume discounts on many types of products.

Offer Subscriptions on Products

Remember all those monthly clubs from yesteryear — coffee, fruit, books, CDs? Offering, say, monthly or quarterly replenishments at a discount has fared well online for various types of personal use products. This can also work for gift giving, especially on consumables and accessories. For example, a single-serve coffee maker accompanied by six monthly shipments of coffee becomes a gift that keeps giving.

Subscription based selling is on the rise, even for gift-giving. Note the lower right box in this example at Amazon: "Deliver every 1 month."

Subscription based selling is on the rise, even for gift giving. Note the lower-right box in this example at Amazon: “Deliver every 1 month.”

Implement Realistic Cross-sells

Use realistic cross selling of additional products rather than pushing seemingly random “related” items. Take the steps to ensure related product sections — especially those that highlight what others have purchased — are logical alternatives, add-ons, or accessories. This may require some timely massaging of data, but it’s a good way to keep shoppers in the store when they land on unappealing product pages.

Curate Videos

User-created or manufacturer-supplied videos are often better than no video at all. YouTube and Vimeo are a good resource for videos that are applicable to most product types. Use the proper embed code for calling in the media, but keep a few things in mind.

  • Videos that run less than one minute typically fare better than longer ones.
  • The video should be of good quality. If it’s choppy or blurry, or has bad sound, search for another.
  • A few seconds of a 360-degree view is sometimes all that’s necessary to close the sale.
  • Make sure the video doesn’t include links to competitors or third-party sites.
  • Be sure to configure advanced options for embedding. On YouTube, you can (a) have the video start playing at a specific point — minutes:seconds, (b) prevent the display of suggested videos and (c) enable privacy-enhanced mode, which means visitor data will only be collected if the video is watched. When using Vimeo, you’ll likely want to turn off auto-play and looping.

When displaying embeddable content, use scripts that alert you if the media goes offline or is removed from the channel.

YouTube gives embedding options.

YouTube gives embedding options, including one that maintains customer privacy unless he clicks play.