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6 Last-Minute Ways to Drive Holiday Shopping Conversions

Angie Tran

Content Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for — 2020 is finally coming to a close. While this holiday season will differ from those of yesteryears, it’ll still be the time for turning on the Hallmark channel, chugging eggnog, exchanging gifts, and spreading cheer. 

For retailers, however, the celebrations can’t start yet. After conquering a hectic Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they’ll need to ramp up for the year-end shopping mayhem — a whopping 40 million shoppers will finish their holiday shopping during Christmas week. In other words, the next few weeks will be crucial for sales and engagement. 

While there isn’t enough time to completely redesign the online shopping experience and cater to these last-minute shoppers, there are simple steps you can take to boost conversions. Here are some ideas.

Run Exciting Sales on Super Saturday

Super Saturday — the last Saturday before Christmas — is typically the last chance for procrastinators to shop ‘til they drop. In 2019, an estimated 147.8 million U.S. consumers participated in this end-of-year shopping spree. (No wonder some have coined the day “Panic Saturday.”)

December 19th to 20th will be a big weekend for shoppers and retailers alike. Shoppers will be bombarded with marketing, while retailers will struggle to stand out from the virtual crowd. The easiest solution? Offer something compelling in a creative way. Run a killer promotion, push out irresistible doorbusters, and give shoppers a reason to choose you over your competitors. 

But with sales rampant during the holiday season and modern shoppers accustomed to searching for the best value online, it won’t be enough to offer a BOGO 50% off coupon. Be a bit more strategic and creative with your offerings — for example, bundling products that complement each other or allowing customers to unlock limited edition gifts after they reach a particular spending tier. 

Use Retargeting Ads

The power of retargeting ads — whether for social, search, or email — cannot be overstated. Instead of spending your precious marketing resources to target everyone online, you can make sure that they’re going toward converting the relevant, high-quality prospects that may have already shown an interest in your products or have shopped with you before. By leveraging retargeting ads, you can personalize your creative campaigns and segment potential shoppers based on their interests, shopping behaviors, and demographics. It’s a great way to catch attention. 

Offer Free Shipping

Big box retailers, savvy D2C brands, and e-commerce behemoths have set a new consumer expectation — shipping must be free, fast, and reliable. And with a record number of packages zipping around the globe this holiday season, order fulfillment is an important consideration factor when shoppers choose which companies to support. 

Yet we started seeing holiday-induced shipping delays in October. If you’re unable to guarantee a three to five day delivery schedule, you’ll want to offer free shipping, even if it requires a minimum order subtotal. And make sure to inform your customers about cut-off dates when they’re browsing your site (this is where a pop-up or sitewide banner comes in handy) and provide continuous delivery updates after they checkout. 

If free shipping makes your business unprofitable, you’ll want to opt for a flat-rate shipping cost for all customers. There’s nothing more frustrating than adding new goodies to your cart and having to abandon it because of exorbitant shipping costs. Remember: Always set customer expectations up front. 

Pro Tip: Thanks to the pandemic, there are fewer people shopping in-person this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most out of your brick-and-mortar location. You can offer in-store pickup and incentivize people to select this option by providing a discount. Not only will you be able to score some big wins by offering time-strapped shoppers the option to snag their pre-purchased gifts on their own time, but you’ll also alleviate some of the pressure from your shipping operations. 

For more on holiday shipping:


Have a Generous Return Policy

December is a hectic month. Add in the pandemic to the mix, and you’ll find yourself fielding angry customer emails about being unable to return products if you have a limited return window. Return policies can be a significant consideration factor for shoppers who are purchasing gifts last-minute, and they’ll flock to retailers who are flexible and generous with return options. Show some empathy to shoppers’ circumstances and extend your return period in the next few weeks, if only temporarily. 

Remove Friction Points

Last-minute shoppers are racing against the clock — they’re looking for speed, efficiency, and convenience in their shopping experience. Retailers looking to help them complete their purchases with ease must remove any friction points in their customer journey. This includes:

  • Making sure your site speed is as fast as possible. Roughly 40% of online users abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load — ouch! Take the time to conduct a site audit and jot down areas for improvement, including optimizing images, removing unnecessary plugins, and pruning old pages. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to review your site speed and areas that might be lowering your score. 
  • Compiling a gift-guide tab with best-sellers or holiday items in a variety of price ranges. Don’t forget to prominently feature the best reviews for each of these products and their value propositions. Even better, add a sitewide banner that links to this page. 
  • Removing the requirement that shoppers sign up for customer accounts. Allowing shoppers to checkout as a guest can significantly streamline the checkout process. 

Provide Top-Notch Customer Service

To distinguish your brand as one that genuinely cares about its customers, take care of these last-minute shoppers with excellent customer service, whether it’s through a 24/7 hotline, live chat, or thorough FAQ page. Customer service is an excellent opportunity to alleviate some of the holiday stress and nurture brand loyalty. Just make sure that your customer service associates are well-trained — you may want to hire some additional employees to cover the holiday rush, just in case. 

For more customer service resources:

It’s Time to Save the Day

Ultimately, the last-minute holiday rush is both a challenge and an opportunity for brands. By placating holiday anxieties with a memorable and efficient customer journey, you can be the retailer that comes in and saves the day. 

Though some of these ideas may be temporary improvements to your operations, merchandising, and marketing, many provide a foundation for a better customer shopping experience that you can implement permanently in 2021. If you’re ready to get started, check out how AdRoll can provide you with the essential tools to serve delight to your customers. 

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