The shipping deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery is fast approaching for most retailers. But what’s a retailer to do after the deadline passes?

We have always encouraged retailers to "keep the lights on" throughout the entire holiday season -- as in, keep working hard to reach people at the moment of interest.

Don’t ignore the hordes of last minute shoppers just because it's not possible to ship to them by Christmas; instead, shift the focus from driving online conversions (online gift cards aside!) to helping interested shoppers locate and buy products from your stores.

This strategy is more relevant than many might think; despite yet another year of strong growth in web sales, many holiday purchase procrastinators will head to the malls for last-minute purchases. In December 2009, queries for “best buy store” and “target store” showed strong demand leading right up to Christmas and peaked on December 24.

Drilling down on the types of information last minute shoppers might be looking for, Google Insights for Search further shows that queries for “best buy store hours” and “target store hours” were substantial during the week around Christmas.

So what can you do?

Last minute shoppers are looking for store information...why not make it easier for these consumers to find what they're looking for? A few ideas to consider:
  • Invite shoppers to visit their local store – Tweak creative messages to tell consumers to shop in-store and don’t forget to mention extended store hours if you have them.
  • Turn on keywords you might not normally utilize – Turning on terms which include your company name and words like "store", "store hours" and "locations" may help to reach last-minute shoppers looking for information in short order. Google Insights for Search offers top searches and information on which regions/areas see the most demand for these types of queries.
  • Add shortcuts on Sitelinks – For retailers employing Sitelinks, consider adding a link such as “Extended Store Hours & Directions” and send consumers to the store locator pages. This saves time for the consumer -- a valuable commodity for those with a long shopping list!
  • Supplement with Mobile Search – Coremetrics reported that on Black Friday, 5.6% of shoppers logged on to a retailer’s website from a mobile device (a 26.7% jump from 2009). Set up a mobile campaign using the above mentioned keywords. People will be looking for this information whether they are at home or away, searching on a desktop or on a mobile device.

Posted by Charles Chin and Joe Cannella, Google Retail Team