8 Things to do Right Now to Prepare for The Holiday Ecommerce Shopping Season
It’s never too early to begin preparation for the online retail bonanza now. In fact, the earlier you start preparations, the better, as you will have ample time to test, implement and iterate what’s working.
To truly position your eCommerce business for the holiday shopping windfall you must think ahead. The thing is, the holiday season has become an increasingly important sales window for retailers to balance their book and end the year on high.
The recent report from the National Retail Federation is sure to make you appreciate just how vital the holiday shopping season is and the magnitude of the impact on revenue growth for e-tailers. According to the federation, over 30 percent of annual retail sales are generated in the last six weeks of the year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Shoppers spent $123.90 billion shopping online during the last holiday season, a 16.7 percent increase from 2017’s figures.
Interestingly, Cyber Monday overtook Thanksgiving and Black Friday as the heaviest online spending day in history with a $7.87 billion in sales; while Thanksgiving and Black Friday pulled in $3.7 billion and $6.2 billion respectively.
And, the trend is reasonably expected to continue into 2019, considering that most retailers are beginning to spread their promotions over a wider period giving shoppers even more days to hunt for deals.
So, how can you get your eCommerce store ready for the big shopping weekend?
Here’s our top 8 best checklist to help you prepare for the holiday eCommerce shopping season:
1. Dig into historical industry data
As part of your planning for the holiday eCommerce shopping season, be sure to spend some time going over the important industry trend for the previous year’s sales cycle.
Combine the insights from the broader industry trend with your internal data to gain a 360-degree view of overlooked areas you might need to pay closer attention to going into the new holiday shopping season.
With these data at hand, you can confidently begin to plan your sales and promotion campaigns.
We usually recommend that you have everything – marketing material, ads, landing pages, content – queued up and ready to go before October 31.
Creating a marketing calendar beforehand helps you track the progress of each task that needs to be done before the October deadline. So, you can confidently focus on selling and serving your customers as the big day arrives.
2. Optimize your store for user experience
Imagine this, you have done all the planning and hard lifting to send traffic to your eCommerce store. Streams and streams of users are visiting your website. But they are not converting.
As you know, that’s a retailer’s worst nightmare. So, how do you make you every user that lands on your website complete the checkout process?
First, you may want to make sure the shopping experience is as frictionless as possible by ensuring users can quickly discover products on the website. In fact, the rule of thumb is to make the product page simple. Eliminate anything that would distract or confuse buyers on the page.
Also, where it makes sense, implement a one-click checkout process to reduce the number of clicks a user has to go through before paying for an item.
3. Test load speed and server’s ability to handle a massive spike in traffic
Your site’s load time is absolutely crucial to how well visitors convert. According to Kissmetrics, 40 percent of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
So, you may want to test site load speed beforehand the holiday shopping season starts. Use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool to understand how fast your site loads. There are also suggestions of possible things you can do to improve your website’s load time.
You may also want to know whether the server on which your eCommerce store is hosted can handle the expected huge traffic spike. You don’t want a case where the website crashes right in the middle of a busy shopping season.
Hence, think of upgrading to a higher plan with capacity to handle surges or move to a new server as the case may be.
4. Optimize for mobile users
Fact is, almost half of the visits to your store is going to come from mobile users. So, while you make plans to conduct a sitewide optimization, be sure that mobile users also have a seamless experience shopping from their smartphones.
5. How ready are your customer support processes?
Be sure you’re going get an incredibly large volume of calls and inquiries from customers. You must be prepared even for the worst-case scenario. So, you may want to factor in whether your current customer support will be able to handle a significant increase in customer inquiries.
Do you need to hire an extra pair of hands for the shopping season or get every employee to come in?
6. Optimize your shipping process to handle the enormous demand
How are you going to get the buyer’s order delivered to them in time before the holidays?
Though it is likely, you are not directly involved with handling order fulfilment and shipping. However, you may still want to find out the potential shipping cut off time for delivery before the holidays and effectively communicate that to your customers.
Consider working with your distribution partners to work out convenient cut off time to get the orders in for it to be delivered in time. And be sure to make the shipping terms clear, this way, your customers can know when to expect their orders to arrive.
7. Ramp up email marketing in the build-up to the holiday sales
Email marketing is a valuable arsenal in your toolkit to get customers excited before the big rush. Be sure that the initial messages to your list are not overly salesy, focus more on sending out valuable emails first.
Gradually build up anticipation for your products, then as the date draws near ramp up your efforts. To maximize results from your emails, you may want to stage your email offers 4 to 6 weeks out. Also, segment and personalize your offer to increase relevance.
Consider including coupon codes and discounts for shipping as incentives to get customers to pull out their wallets.
8. Set up metrics to measure the success of your campaign
At the end of the holiday shopping season, you want to look back at the data and see what you did right and things to improve on.
The common metrics for most retailers is to look at the number of sales and how many people they were able to pull through the door.
However, take it a step further by tracking how many of these new customers became repeat buyers.
Finally, remember to succeed with your holiday eCommerce shopping campaign you must: plan ahead of time, leverage the power of email marketing to get your customers excited about your offers. And ensure your website is easy to navigate and can withstand surges in traffic without crashing.
Want to improve your eCommerce conversion rates during the holidays? Contact us today and see how we can help you make small changes that make a big impact.