SOURCE: SLI Systems

SLI Systems

September 14, 2010 11:30 ET

With December Around the Corner, SLI Systems Provides Actionable Advice for E-tailers Looking to Ensure a Lucrative Holiday Season

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwire - September 14, 2010) -   The December holidays are just around the corner and consumers are already preparing their shopping lists. For online retailers that have not already done so, now is the perfect time to get their sites ready for the holiday shopping frenzy, according to SLI Systems (www.sli-systems.com), provider of on-demand, intelligent search and navigation solutions and services for e-commerce sites.

Despite a somewhat uncertain economy, the outlook for online holiday sales remains upbeat. SLI says e-tailers should closely manage their inventory, keep an eye on consumer trends, and use the best available technology to provide a compelling shopping experience to convert browsers to buyers.

"Many consumers have already started shopping for their holiday gifts," said Shaun Ryan, CEO of SLI Systems, "but there are still a number of preparatory steps online retailers can take in the weeks leading up to the big holiday shopping season to make sure their sites stand out from the rest, and withstand the holiday rush."

E-tailers should already be paying attention to customers' online buying preferences. Utilizing trend data related to the most commonly used keywords or phrases on a site, for example, can lend important insight into which products will be in demand this holiday season. This can be helpful when preparing inventories and maximizing online retail sites to make them more relevant.

To make this process even easier, starting in September and running throughout the holiday shopping season, SLI will be issuing a monthly "Holiday Shopping Trend Index" highlighting the most popular items across seven different retail categories, including women's apparel, men's apparel, jewelry, cosmetics, gifts and novelty, and consumer electronics.

In addition to traditional holiday planning activities, such as email marketing campaigns or SEO strategies, SLI Systems suggests online retailers also consider the following tips, uniquely designed to enhance the customer experience and result in happy, return shoppers and an increase in holiday sales.

Capitalize on the mobile revolution: The Coda Research Consultancy reports that U.S. mobile commerce sales reached $1.2 billion in 2009 and will double to $2.42 billion in 2010. To guarantee a share of this market during the critical holiday shopping season, e-tailers should consider launching a mobile version of their e-retailing site. Site search should be a key component, since it helps users easily navigate among choices on a small screen. Relevance of search results is especially important on a mobile site, since users don't want to wait for downloads of additional pages of search results. You can see an example of a well-designed mobile site by visiting The Catholic Company site from a mobile browser.

Put social media content to work: The use of Facebook pages, blogs and Twitter feeds will likely increase this holiday season, as online shoppers look for promotions, discount coupons, shopping tips and product reviews. Integrating this content with site search allows site visitors to see relevant social media posts within search results. Shoppers are better informed about the products they are researching and make quicker buying decisions. The search results from America's Yarn Store are a good example of this functionality in action.

Offer refinements: Online retailers can help their visitors cross gifts off their shopping lists faster by offering refinements. Refinements allow visitors to sort through products by common gift-buying filters, such as gender, price, or type of recipient (e.g., coworker, child, friend, age, gender). For an example of this type of refined navigation, you can view the Footwear, etc. and BestBuyEyeglasses websites. 

Help shoppers complete their thought: Busy holiday shoppers can use a helping hand when they're frantically searching for just the right gifts. E-tailers can shorten the shopping journey for their site visitors by using auto complete functionality that automatically offers suggestions for search terms as shoppers start typing. This can help shoppers who are not sure how to spell a product name, or describe the product they are looking for. Examples of how this works are available on the eVitamins and Cruiser Customizing sites.

Never let your site fail: During the holiday rush and onslaught of online traffic on days like Cyber Monday, it is even more critical for e-tailers to ensure their websites won't fail under pressure. Working with managed service providers to handle a site's search can reduce pressure on internal technical resources and ensure site search is up-and-running on even the busiest days. Online retailers should ask site search providers about their managed services capabilities and ability to handle high web traffic, ensure uptime and offer geographic redundancy, so that if a server fails there is no interruption in service.

To help prepare e-tailers for the upcoming holiday shopping season, SLI has also made available a free, downloadable guide that contains additional tips and recommendations for readying a site for the busy shopping season. The guide, titled "SLI Holiday Guide: 10 Steps for Preparing Your Online Retail Site for the Holidays," is available for free download at www.sli-systems.com/holiday-guide.php.

About SLI Systems
SLI Systems is the developer of Software-as-a-Service learning-based search and navigation solutions for corporate Internet sites, content publishers, e-commerce destinations and consumer Internet portals that Searches, Learns and Improves the user experience. SLI Systems' hosted site search and user-generated SEO solutions empower businesses to enhance customer satisfaction while increasing sales, reducing costs and yielding valuable customer information. Unlike traditional search software, SLI Systems' patented technology continuously "learns" from the behavior of visitors over time to deliver more relevant results. SLI Systems is a privately held company, with offices in Silicon Valley, London, and Christchurch, New Zealand. For more information, visit www.sli-systems.com, or see the company's blog at http://blog.sli-systems.com/

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