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Our 5 Favorite Holiday Gift Guides of 2016—And What They Did Right

Our 5 Favorite Holiday Gift Guides of 2016—And What They Did Right

The sugar high of Halloween has not yet begun, let alone dissipated, and yet the holiday season is upon us ladies and gentlemen. Black Friday articles are up earlier than ever and holiday gift guides in October don’t so much as raise an eyebrow. This is our reality and it’s time to make the most of it. As you scramble to throw together the gift guide of the century, check out 5 ridiculously cool gift guides that graced our presence in 2016—and what we loved about them— picked by your very own StackCommerce Content Team.

Katy’s Picks:

The Verge Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Holiday Gift Guide from The Verge
Credit: The Verge

Why I Loved It:

Apart from the fact that this guide is freaking amazing to look at, The Verge delivered a welcome departure from the typical persona-driven gift guide formula. Rather than breaking up gifts according to the usual suspects (e.g. Gifts for Soccer Moms, Gifts for the Man Cave, Gifts for Besties, etc.), they focused in on where and when a gift might actually be used. Interesting, right?

Friends with a bunch of homebodies? Buy them something to use at home. Shopping for coworkers? You might (choose to) know absolutely nothing about them, but you’re positive they come to work every day. Buy them something to use at work!

By taking the road less followed, The Verge’s guide becomes not just another gift guide, but a totally fresh resource for shopping the season.

Refinery29 Gift Curator

Refinery29 Gift Guide
Credit: Refinery29

Why I Loved It:

There are two universal truths we can all agree on: holiday shopping sucks and people don’t read. Agreed? Great. Refinery29 took that to heart and made a unique gift guide experience that renders both those things insignificant.

Firstly, their interactive gift guide handholds you through the gifting process like a “Which Friends Character Are You” Buzzfeed quiz. It’s pleasant, engaging, and best of all, easy. Once you graduate from the questionnaire phase, you’ll land on a clear list of gifting options, curated specifically for your shopping list. The large, clear on-white imagery and single sentence descriptions are just simple enough to work. Thank you Refinery29, for the gift of easy gifting.

Nick’s Picks

CNET’s Holiday Gift Guide 2016

CNET Holiday Gift Guide
Credit: CNET

Why I Loved It:

They say content is king, and CNET takes that idiom to heart with this gift guide. Their content-driven guide adds one more wall before getting a customer on an actual sale page, but it also invites them to browse a much larger inventory, while still catering to their personal preferences. Better yet, if you really do just want to scan products rather than read a full post, CNET provides a “Gifts” button that opens the article’s featured deals in a slideshow format for you to preview without leaving the main Buyer’s Guide page.

You could very easily fall down the shopping rabbit hole in the CNET Buyer’s Guide, and that’s exactly how you want a gift guide to be.

Consumer Reports

Gift Guide
Credit: Consumer Reports

Why I Loved It

Unlike CNET, CR opts for a far more basic design which befits their no-frills style throughout the rest of the year. While it’s a basic guide, it makes a lot of sense. They have a smart, quick intro to the Gift Guide that reminds the reader that their entire M.O. is to “buy and test all year long, so we can tell you which excel in performance, safety, efficiency, and value.” In a hot second, they’ve reaffirmed why you want to look at this guide—they’re true authorities.

Their categories are exceedingly general and don’t always lead to productive commerce articles (See: the entire Food & Drink section) but it’s easy to peruse and maintains a friendly tone that doesn’t try to force sales down your gullet.

The New York Times

The New York Times Gift Guide
Credit: The New York Times

Why I Loved It
There are things to love and things to hate about this gift guide. On the one hand, I can’t stop clicking refresh to see the gorgeous multimedia page descend from the snowy heavens into an interactive urban cityscape of clickable gift buckets. It’s an undeniable attractive main page, and while the animations on some of the headings draw your eye, there are too many “Where’s Waldo” elements. If you can find the “Tech” bucket in less than six seconds I applaud you. “Experience” is even cut off at the bottom in such a blatant QA whiff that it cheapens the whole page just a tad.

However, click into any of these buckets and you’ve got a beautiful outlay of just straight PRODUCTS. Each page is extremely friendly to browsing—especially on mobile—with simple product images on white and quick 1-2 sentence descriptions of the product with a subtle, yet still unmissable CTA.

It’s mildly irritating to have to go through the special animation each time you want to review the buckets again, but at least it keeps you in the holiday spirit. The main page may suffer slightly from over-design, but each bucket is practically and purposefully put together for easy browsing, with smart, curated picks leading the lists.

 

5 Commerce Tips for Making the Most of This Holiday Season

5 Commerce Tips for Making the Most of This Holiday Season

The holiday season is approaching quickly, and having a strong digital commerce strategy is essential. At StackCommerce, we’ve helped hundreds of publisher-owned online shops flourish during the holiday season through our native commerce platform. From preparing unique and exciting inventory to organizing specialized gift shops, we’ve had our hands in it all. Check out our top 5 tips for generating more revenue all winter long, and spreading cheer while you’re at it.

Plan Ahead 

For most online shops, the holiday season is the busiest time of year. On days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, site traffic can quadruple, coupons and promotions can go viral, and inventory can deplete within seconds. It’s critical to plan ahead in order to set your company up for success. Below are three steps to prioritize:

    • Build out the promotional calendar as early as possible, even if that means starting to plan for the holidays in the spring or summer.
    • Review all inventory pricing, needs, and caps before your sales go live. Once you drop a price or issue a site-wide sale, you can’t go back.
    • Schedule promotions with proper cadence to ensure that you and your team are prepared to handle increased volume and heightened sales. Preparing for this influx will provide your customers with a positive experience.

Set Up a Gift Shop

One major shift occurs during the holiday season: consumers buy gifts for others, not themselves. Therefore, the tactics you use to convert consumers during the rest of the year may not be effective during the holiday season. Launching a gift shop, which functions differently than your normal store, allows customers to shop your existing inventory in a new way. Gift Shops also guide customers through a purchase decision that can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for launching a can’t-miss gift shop:

    • Showcase your catalogue with buckets and themes that relate to gifting. Some examples that have worked for us include:
      • Gifts Under $50
      • Gifts for the Trendsetter
      • Gifts for the Jetsetter
      • Gifts for the Techie
    • Don’t assume that customers think your products are giftable. Be sure to communicate the launch of your gift shop to existing customers and explain why the products within are great for gifting.

Call Out Shipping Times  

There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up to a holiday celebration or party without a gift. So don’t put your customers in a position to fail! Be upfront with your shipping times and let the customers decide if your timeline makes sense for their purchase. Sometimes it’s okay if a gift ships after a holiday, sometimes it’s not.

Don’t Over-Discount

Discounting is a great way to entice customers, but often it’s overused. Consider the reasons why your products are special and communicate this to your customers. Don’t overlook the appeal of your own products! Ask yourself these questions to uncover why your products are unique:

    • Why do my products make for perfect gifts?
    • What features stand out about my products aside from their price points?
    • Are any products exclusive? What products can’t be found anywhere else on the web?

Review Past Holiday Seasons

We’ve all dealt with analysis paralysis, but a healthy amount of analysis can be incredibly effective. Take a good look at what happened last holiday season. What were your biggest sales? Which emails had the highest open rates? What deals sold out? Which promotions converted the most users? How can you replicate what worked and improve what didn’t?

One of the benefits of working with StackCommerce’s native commerce platform is that we deliver a full holiday marketing strategy to each publisher shop across our network! StackCommerce-powered shops will benefit from curated gift shops, full email marketing cycles and sales, and incredible logistics and customer service from Black Friday through the holiday season.

Inventory issues, shipping times, discounts, analysis – we consider it all and make sure our publisher partners’ branded storefronts are prepped for success. Whether you work with us or are implementing your own marketing strategy, we hope these tips will inspire success this holiday season!