The holiday season is coming, and it means one thing for ecommerce websites: a spike in traffic. As we get closer to the shopping season, more people are turning to online stores and ecommerce platforms to help with their gift shopping. Not taking advantage of the increase in potential customers would be such a waste.

Before the holiday season comes, you want to make sure that your ecommerce website offers the best customer journey possible. This is an important step to take because that is how you maximise your conversion rate. Specifically, you want to make sure that your shopping cart can convert customers effectively, and these are the tips to get started with.

Tweak Your Performance

The last thing you want to do is to keep your customers waiting for the checkout process to load. It is one of the main reasons why customers drop their carts and move to another ecommerce website. Your entire site – and the checkout pages specifically – needs to load quickly and correctly.

There are two ways you can improve your site’s performance. The first one is by using a capable web hosting service such as You cannot substitute a fast and capable server with on-site tweaks. For the site to load quickly, the server needs to be able to handle the sudden spike in traffic too.

Once you are certain that you have the best web hosting service powering your site, it is time to optimise the site for maximum performance. You can optimise images, make sure scripts and CSS files aren’t preventing the page from loading correctly, and perform other tweaks to boost performance.

Offer Free Shipping

The second thing you can do to substantially increase the conversion rate of your shopping cart is to offer free shipping with every purchase, or at least with purchases of a certain amount or higher. Free shipping influences the majority of shoppers, mainly those who are on the edge of making a purchase decision. It is that extra push needed to convert them into customers.

There is another big advantage you can gain from offering free shipping, and that is the ability to compete with other ecommerce websites on the market better. When the products are priced similarly, free shipping is exactly the kind of competitive advantage you need to get ahead of the market. Just make sure the free shipping is fast and reliable to ensure maximum customer satisfaction.

Simplify the Steps

Forget about trying to capture as many details about the customer as possible. This may have been a good idea a few years ago, but it is not how you want to set up your checkout process today. In fact, a long checkout process with multiple forms to fill in is a thing of the past.

You want shoppers to be able to complete their purchases as quickly as possible, and asking about their date of birth or offering additional products to consider doesn’t help with that at all. Keep the checkout form simple, only ask for the necessary details, and allow customers to make purchases swiftly.

The way your checkout form is structured matters too. Everything needs to be cleared, including error messages and form validation notices. The goal is to make the checkout process as smooth and enjoyable as possible in order to maximise conversion.

Let Guests Check Out

Yes, making account registration mandatory is also a practice that you should no longer stick with in today’s market. Remember that there will be a lot of new shoppers visiting your site, and they may not be interested in making purchases in the near future. Why force them to register for an account they won’t use? If you are the customer, don’t you find that annoying?

Guest checkouts is another big boost to your bottom line. Let customers have the option to store their shipping details at the end of the checkout process rather than forcing them to sign up for an account at the beginning. You’ll be surprised by how many dropped carts you can now convert with this new, sleeker approach implemented properly.

Be Transparent with Your Costs

We discussed how free shipping is a great way to boost shopping cart conversion. While the offer is fantastic for the holiday season, it is not always possible to pay for shipping all the time. The alternative to offering free shipping is being transparent with your costs throughout the customer journey.

First, make sure customers can always check how much they need to pay – and the individual cost element – for the products they want to buy. This means displaying the subtotal, any shipping and handling fees, taxes and other fees associated with the purchase, and the grand total in a clear manner.

You also want to allow customers to modify their shopping cart easily at any stage. If they want to amend the quantity or remove an item from their shopping cart, they need to be able to do so without having to jump through hoops or go through multiple pages.

Check and Recheck

Before the holiday season hits, run several tests to make sure your site works properly. You need to be extra certain that the site (and the server) can handle the extra load, that features within the site all work properly, that customers can navigate through the site without coming across missing pages and broken links, and that the shopping cart works seamlessly.

The last bit is crucial. Everything about the checkout process – including payment processing and notifications – needs to be flawless, and there is a reason for that; customers are more sensitive to disruptions in their user experience, and eliminating those distractions is exactly how you get them to convert into customers.

Don’t Forget Your Mobile Customers

One last tip you definitely need to keep in mind as you prepare for the holiday season: always optimise your site for mobile users. Over 60% of shoppers now do their holiday shopping on the go, using smartphones and tablets to visit ecommerce platforms and online stores. Having a checkout page that isn’t optimised for mobile shoppers is a mistake you cannot afford to make.

So, are you ready for a busy holiday season? Use the tips and tricks we discussed in this article to help you prepare for the shopping season better, and see your bottom line rise to a whole new height.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.