How to convert Christmas shoppers to repeat purchasers

By: Callie Hinman

Did you know that 27% of all online retail revenue in the U.K. is generated by repeat customers? Not only that, a study by RJMetrics found that loyal customers spent up to 30 times the average amount.

While you certainly shouldn’t abandon your efforts to bring in new customers this Christmas, it may be a good idea to focus on an online retail strategy that encourages first-time shoppers to become brand loyalists.

See how to convert Christmas shoppers to repeat purchasers with the tips below.

Design a Customer-Centric Website

Your website should be designed in such a way that first-time visitors can find exactly what they want as quickly as possible. Make your site resemble a sightseeing map that highlights only the content a casual visitor would want to see. If a consumer comes to your website and struggles to find your Christmas promotions or featured products, they may give up and go elsewhere.

But if your website is organised like this:

...and not like this:

… shoppers are more likely to return to your site even after Christmas.

Fact: In 2015, nearly 40% of UK shoppers reported doing most of their Christmas shopping online.

In addition to providing consumers with a direct path to their desired promotion or product, make sure it’s easy for shoppers to get in contact with you. Prominently display your customer service phone number, email address, and FAQs.

When a shopper can easily get answers to their questions, it positively impacts the customer experience. In turn, they’ll have a higher opinion of your brand. Conversely, if a consumer can’t get assistance, they may abandon their cart and never return.

Embrace Mobile-Friendliness

The number of Christmas shoppers completing purchases on smartphones and tablets grows every year. In December 2016, over half of all online sales were made via mobile devices — a year-over-year (YoY) increase of 47%. And according to study by Adobe, for every £10 spent online during the 2016 Christmas season, £4.10 was from mobile purchases.

If your website isn’t designed for mobile users, it won’t matter how impressive your promotions are. To make your website mobile-friendly, increase the size of menu items and buttons to make them easier to tap. Align your forms vertically and decrease the number of required fields to only the most vital information.

Don’t include unnecessary content as this can slow down the load time and page speed. And reduce menu options to only the most relevant. Remember: you have less real estate on a mobile device than on a desktop. Don’t overcrowd the space.

Image source: Google Webmasters

Tip: Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to determine how easily a consume can browse through your website on a mobile device.

As you ensure each aspect of your site is mobile-friendly, consider the element that is most likely to convert Christmas shoppers to repeat purchasers: the checkout process. If you want to make mobile checkout as simple as possible and, in turn, motivate customers to return, consider implementing these updates:

  • Allow shoppers to checkout as guests. Don’t force customers to make an account on your site before they can complete their order. You can offer them the option to register later, but an account shouldn’t be a required step to make a purchase.
  • Give shoppers the option to save items for later. Many consumers will begin their search on mobile but then complete their purchase on a desktop. Enable shoppers to save products in their cart. It’s frustrating for customers to come back to complete their order and discover they have to add items all over again.
  • Display the appropriate keyboard based on the field. For most of the data fields (such as name, email address, and billing and shipping information) shoppers will need the full QWERTY keyboard. However, for fields like credit card details and phone number, you can display just the numerical keyboard, which makes it easier for the customer to enter their information.

If possible, launch a mobile app for your store. It’s one more channel on which you can connect with customers and build loyalty with your brand. Apps are a great opportunity to offer exclusive discounts and alert shoppers to upcoming sales — both of which help encourage repeat purchases. Software solutions like Shopgate can transform your online store into a beautiful mobile app, saving you the trouble of having to develop one yourself.

Create Useful Christmas Content

While it’s convenient when a friend or family member tells us exactly which present they want, it certainly takes the element of surprise out of the equation. But Christmas shoppers who only know their loved one’s favourite store and not much else will need some guidance.

Highlighting your most popular products on your homepage is a good idea, but savvy online retailers take offering Christmas advice a bit further. More specifically, they create gift guides. A gift guide helps consumers choose presents by matching your products with specific types of recipients. The recipient categories can be as simple as gender or age. Or you can pair items with certain lifestyles.

This example from U.S.-based subscription box marketplace Cratejoy combines both approaches. At the top of the gift guide are the standard categories: Best Gifts for Men, Best Gifts for Women, and Best Gifts for Kids. 

But when a shopper scrolls down a bit farther, they see more creative suggestions:

When a customer clicks on any of the boxes, they’re redirected to an article with hand-picked gift ideas for each type of recipient.

By helping consumers find a personalized gift for their most hard to shop for friends, Cratejoy presents its brand as one that cares about its audience. This strategy is more likely to encourage Christmas shoppers to become repeat purchasers than just offering generic advice to every visitor.

Be Creative with Your Marketing

Among European countries, the U.K. has the largest advertising market, with an estimated £21.19 billion spent on advertising in 2016. In other words, British consumers are bombarded with marketing messaging every day. This means if you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to be clever.

Creative Christmas advertising shows shoppers you’re invested in the quality of your marketing and how it represents your brand. Conversely, bland Christmas marketing gives customers the impression that you don’t value their perception of your business. And if you haven’t shown a commitment to your customers, why should they be committed to you?

John Lewis is heralded for its clever (and occasionally heart-wrenching) Christmas marketing videos. What makes these videos stand out is that they don’t blatantly advertise John Lewis products. In fact, no reference to the retailer is even made until the last few seconds of the ad. Instead, Christmas videos are focused more on storytelling and building an emotional connection with shoppers.

Not only do consumers enjoy them — John Lewis’ 2017 advert currently has over 9.2 million views on YouTube — but they also inspire Christmas purchases. The retailer saw a 36% YoY increase in Christmas sales between 2015 and 2016.


Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, there’s still plenty of online retail customers you can attract. As long as you focus on creating an exceptional customer experience for Christmas shoppers, you can be confident they’ll return even after Christmas is over.


By: Callie Hinman, Content Marketer & Writer, ShipStation

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