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Tips for Getting Your Zen Cart Store Ready for the Holidays: Offer Freebies

Last Updated on Jul 2, 2013 by Numinix Developer

With the holiday season less than five months away, the summer is the best time to get ready.

If you have a Zen Cart or e-commerce store, no one needs to tell you how the holidays impact your revenue.  Making the most of your current customer base, as well as every single new visitor to your site, will maximize your profits when the holidays hit.

In this series of posts throughout the month of July, Numinix is providing twelve helpful tips to help you maximize your site visitors, increase sales and revenue, make your customers happy, decrease complaints, and make your own holiday season cheerful during the process!

Offer Freebies

If you’re a shopper like anyone else, the word “free” is a trigger word.  It emotionally produces excitement, and sometimes irrationally so.  You know you don’t actually need it or even want it.  But simply because it is being given away, you seem to want to take advantage of it…and get all that you possibly can.  Whether you’re in line at a buffet, or walking the aisles of a trade show, you take it because “free” means, “I may not get anymore of it later,” or “it may not be here if I decide to come back.”

In the study of economics, the science of loss aversion was discovered in the early 1980’s by behavioral psychologists,  Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.  Loss aversion basically says that it is an innate drive within humans to avoid loss rather than acquiring gain.  In other words, people are more apt to act in order to make sure they don’t lose something, rather than think twice about whether or not they are actually getting more in return.  Put another way, most customers will choose a free product even over a low-cost item even though the low-cost item was clearly a better value.

In light of this psychological marketing strategy, there are two freebies your e-commerce site should consider implementing over the holidays.

1.  Offer Free Shipping


According to one study by Forrester on why customers abandon their shopping cart, the question was asked, “Thinking of the last time you put items in your shopping cart but did not finish the online purchase, which of the following describes why you did not complete the transaction?”  35% of male online purchases and 42% of female online purchasers said that they abandoned their cart because shipping and handling costs were too high (source).

comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, reported on January 3, 2013 the final 2012 holiday season retail e-commerce spending totals. $42.3 billion was spent online during the entire November-December holiday shopping season, marking a 14-percent increase from 2011. The latter portion of the season saw several days with particularly strong growth, including Free Shipping Day on Monday, Dec. 17 (up 76 percent to $1.013 billion) and Christmas Day (up 36 percent to 288 million) (source).

Combine this hard research data with the psychological marketing strategy of e-commerce giant, Amazon.  In 199 they began offering free shipping on orders over $99 in 1999.  Today, they have proven their marketing strategy over and again through such products as Amazon Prime, which extends free shipping on all Amazon-fulfilled products, for one low membership price paid annually.  Obviously you can see that an e-commerce site would be most wise to offer free shipping…especially during the holiday season.

How can your Zen Cart e-commerce site follow the same practice and increase your sales?  Let’s say you are a retailer in North America.  You decide to offer free shipping on a few orders.  If you offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more, your average shopper will probably spend just over $50…simply in order to not feel like they are losing a value added.  If you decide to change your policy and offer free shipping on all orders over $75, your average sale will rise to just over $80.

These numbers come from an actual example from a retailer in the northwestern U.S..  Your company can discover, like this company, and like Amazon, that people will almost always spend more money in order to get something free.  And in turn this will more than likely reduce the number of cart abandons significantly.  With this in mind you’ll want to consider a couple of valuable elements in this sales booster.

First, consider carefully your purchase threshold.  You want the free shipping to be a sales booster, and not a profit-killer.  Know your numbers – the cost for your products, the profit margin you are willing to lose per item in order to make it back in volume, etc. – and make wise decisions accordingly.

Second, consider using the word “Free” in the subject line of any emails you send out, understanding that spam filters may prevent it from hitting the in-boxes of some customers.  Despite  the helpful spam filters, it’s still worth considering the use of the word.

Numinix offers two modules that assist you in offering free shipping with your Zen Cart platform:

2. Offer Free Stuff!


Taking the psychological marketing strategy to a different field, if you don’t feel you can take the risk with free shipping, try offering a free gift of some kind when customers spend over a certain amount on your site.   They don’t have to be expensive, of course.  You’re simply running your business by solid numbers and proven marketing strategies when you add a product that cost you hardly anything to an order total.  While it subtracts from your gross profit by a minimal amount, the increase in overall sales will more than make up for it.

The Zen Cart module, Dangling Carrot, is a great module for use with Zen Cart platforms (including 1.5x).  It gives customers a choice of free gifts, which you designate, when they spent a certain amount in your store.  It allows you to specify which items are gifts, which are set to be discounted, or which items you want a zero price for.  Then you can set a threshold at which they are eligible for the gift.

In most cases, Numinix can install this module on your Zen Cart site in 48 hours or less for just $45.


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