5 proven strategies for attracting last-minute online shoppers

Neil Kokemuller
Neil Kokemuller
November 14, 2017

The expansion of eCommerce – and access to convenient buying and rapid delivery – has contributed to the significant consumer shift toward later buying in the holiday cycle. This upcoming season, for instance, you can expect tens of millions of people to shop for gifts in the finals weeks and days before Christmas.

Because of this shift, it is important that eSellers have a strong plan for holiday eCommerce that includes efforts to attract last-minute shoppers. These people are an increasingly important segment of the consumer marketplace for online businesses that in competitive industries. The following is an overview of some of the most proven strategies on attracting last-minute buyers, along with helpful insights and go-to tips.

Contact previous customers via email and social media

The best first strategy to attract late-holiday shoppers is to reach out to previous customers, many of whom are likely among the last-minute crowd. These people already have an experience with your business, a basic sense of the customer process, and a stronger likelihood than new prospects of making a purchase.

For all these reasons, email and social media campaigns targeting return customers are good strategies. Ideally, you have technology that enables you to automate marketing campaigns to promote products and services related to previous purchases. In fact, if you can tailor your content based on the types of items purchased in prior holiday seasons for long-term customers, the relevance and potential for sales conversions increase.

Simplify the gift-giving process

As you can imagine, last-minute shoppers engage with eCommerce providers with a higher sense of urgency than people who complete gift purchases early. Thus, the simpler you can make the gift-buying and giving process, the increased likelihood that shoppers visiting your site will make a purchase.

A site format with distinct categories is a common approach to simplify gifting. You could have sections with product offers based on the intended recipient, such as:

  • Gifts for Dads
  • Gifts for Moms
  • Gifts for Teens
  • Gifts for Kids
  • Gifts for Babies
  • Gifts for Family
  • Gifts for Friends

You could also offer categorical selections based on more precise age categories. As the vast majority of items purchased during the Christmas holiday season are for kids, it makes sense to build categories around age, activities, hobbies or product types. Consider the primary makeup of your target market. If you specialize in toys, these types of precise categories make a lot of sense. If you offer a wide variety of merchandise, like Amazon does, broader sections for recipients and product types might work better.

Simplify payments, too. Sellers get marketplace payouts with Payoneer

Offer efficient checkout

Efficient checkout is a key element of a fast, simple buying process. Abandoned carts are a major contributor to lost revenue opportunities in eCommerce, as we’ve previously discussed. The potential for abandonment is even higher with last-minute buyers because of the natural pressure they face to shop efficiently. Thus, particularly at holiday time, scale down your shopping cart process to optimize efficiency.

Allow customers the ability to choose between registering as a customer and buying as a guest. Collect only core details necessary to facilitate the purchase and make basic contact regardless. You can always follow-up after the sale to drive a more thorough completion of a customer profile, while also recommending additional products and services related to the customer’s purchases.

Use promotional incentives

Effective promotional inducements are another great way to attract last-minute shoppers. You can deliver promotions through various digital channels, including email, social media, search content and paid advertising.

The following are some specific types of promotional messages and deals that work well with late buyers:

  • Flash sales – Flash sales are time-sensitive deals that are presented abruptly with a very limited time frame, often just hours. These types of incentives play on the sense of urgency buyers already feel, by inspiring a level of scarcity. An alternative approach is to make a certain number of items available to your buyers, which compels them to feel a need to decide quickly. Amazon employs this strategy in its flash deals and daily deals, allowing affiliate partners to offer them to customers.
  • Site-wide discounts – By giving your customers a site-wide discount of 10 or 15%, you not only attract shoppers, but you potentially earn more share of wallet during holiday buying.
  • Follow-up deals – Another way to earn more business is to follow-up on initial purchases with a customized offer to a customer based on the recent holiday purchases, or simply offer an exclusive site-wide deal.
  • Free shipping – We recently discussed the importance of free shipping as an eCommerce incentive. This discount tactic is highly-valued by online shoppers and can sometimes inspire purchases at a rate even higher than simple discounts.

Optimize for mobile

Recent internet data revealed that about half of all web-page views around the world take place on a mobile device, and about one-third of all internet activity occurs on smartphones. Thus, a high portion of late shopping for the upcoming holiday season will occur on mobile devices, and specifically on smartphones. Thus, optimize your website for mobile, if you haven’t already, is integral to your success.

Ensure that all of the points mentioned about simple navigation and efficient checkout apply to your mobile customer experience. You can even elect to deliver mobile-specific ad campaigns through Google AdWords and other platforms, or deliver cross-device retargeting campaigns that invites people back after the shop on a device and then utilize a desktop.

The highest mobile broadband penetrations exist in North and South America, along with Europe. However, Nigeria, India, South Africa, Indonesia, and Thailand also have high rates of mobile Internet activity. You might also consider emphasizing these countries in a geographically-segmented campaign on mobile devices.


Last-minute buyers are extremely important to eSellers in competitive marketplaces. Apply these proven strategies to help you attract your fair share of online shoppers. Doing so can help you increase holiday revenue and access to long-term customers.

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