The holiday season is the most profitable time for retailers. It’s a great time to hit annual targets, introduce new products, and clear out old inventory. To stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on this period, it’s essential for eCommerce businesses to prepare in advance.
Whether you’re starting an online store or you’re looking to boost sales for your existing business, these 11 holiday eCommerce tips will help you get the most out of your website this season.
11 tips for preparing your eCommerce store for the holiday season
1. Set your holiday campaign goals
Start with the basic—planning. Identify your goals for the holiday shopping season. You can begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the main goal we aim to accomplish with our holiday marketing efforts? Is it to boost online sales, increase customer engagement, or build brand awareness?
- What are the key holidays and events that align with our business and our target audience?
- What promotions will we run and discounts will we offer during the holiday season?
These are just a few examples to help you get started. Make sure to consider your specific business goals. And remember that the best goals are always SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
2. Prepare your website for increased traffic
eCommerce stores expect a large spike in website traffic during the holiday season as many people shop online for holiday gifts and essentials. Before traffic even makes its way to your website, it’s important to test your site’s ability to handle a heavy load.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure the best possible online shopping experience for your customers:
- Scale up your hostingThe amount of traffic your website can handle depends on your website hosting. If you still host your website on a shared server, it’s time to upgrade to something that can handle more traffic.A virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated server hosting plan provides sufficient resources to manage high-traffic volumes without experiencing any performance issues. They offer more control and flexibility than shared hosting, which allows you to optimize your server settings and configurations to better suit your website’s needs.
- Optimize your content delivery network (CDN) Another way to prepare for periods of high traffic is to use a content delivery network (CDN). Generally, a website’s content is stored on a server that is close to end users. But if your visitors are in various parts of the world or don’t live near your servers, it can affect the speed with which your website loads. A CDN is a network of servers that are distributed globally. With a CDN, you can optimize your website for high traffic loads and improve website performance, regardless of the location of your website users.
- Compress images Large images can slow down your website’s loading speed. People may not have the patience to stay on your website if it takes too long to load.One way to solve this problem is to find images over 500KB and compress them so they’re smaller in size and take less time to load. You can use online tools, such as Adobe Photoshop or TinyPNG, to compress the images.
3. Keep your online store secure
During the peak season, cyber risks are increasing by manifolds. This means you’ll need to add more protection to your website to monitor it and protect your servers from various attacks.
To provide a safer online shopping experience for your customers, install a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate on your website. An SSL certificate ensures that sensitive data, such as credit card details, passwords, and personal information are secured from interception by hackers and cybercriminals. SiteLock and CodeGuard are also great cybersecurity tools.
4. Get your email marketing strategy ready
One of the best ways to spread holiday cheer is by sending promotions right to the inboxes of your online shoppers. And with careful planning, it can be a great strategy to keep your business top of mind during the shopping season.
Clean up your email lists and segment them based on relevant factors such as interests, buying frequency, and past purchases to effectively reach your target audience. This will ultimately lead to high-quality conversions.
5. Market to existing customers
When gearing up for the busy holiday season, your sole focus should be on customers who made holiday purchases from you last year and those who shop with you year-round. Tailor your holiday promotions and marketing messages specifically to target these loyal customers. By doing so, you can effectively encourage them to return to your eCommerce store for their holiday gift shopping. Craft compelling holiday campaigns that resonate with their preferences, and leverage the loyalty you’ve built throughout the year to boost your eCommerce sales during this festive season.
6. Get holiday-specific
Plan your site’s SEO and online advertising campaigns to integrate holiday-specific keywords. Adding or using terms such as “gifts,” “gifts for mom,” “last minute gifts,” and the like can boost your results.
You can create a festive atmosphere by tailoring your website’s design, content, and promotions to the holiday season. You can use seasonal colors, fonts, or graphics for your website, publish holiday-themed content, and many more.
7. Make sure your inventory is in place
More holiday shoppers mean more inventory needs. Prepare your inventory ahead and check with your suppliers to make sure you’re adequately stocked. Confirm shipment dates with suppliers and have backup plans in place if an order falls through. The last thing you want is long wait times and unhappy customers whose must-buy items are out of stock.
8. Simplify your checkout process
Shopping cart abandonment is a real issue for online retailers. No matter how you plan your marketing strategy, it’s pointless if you can’t convince people to go through the checkout process. By optimizing and simplifying your check-out process, you’ll have fewer abandoned carts and more sales this holiday season.
Here are a few ways to provide a seamless checkout process for your customers:
- Remove any unnecessary pages during the checkout process.
- Provide your customers with the option to guest check out with an auto-fill feature so they don’t have to spend time creating an account.
- Offer various payment gateway options, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and so on.
9. Communicate important information to customers
For instance, payment options, delivery timelines, and shipping costs are all important aspects of the customer experience on your eCommerce site. To prevent frustrated customers during the busy holiday season, it’s imperative to prominently display this information on your holiday website. By providing transparency in these areas, you can enhance the overall customer experience and ensure smoother transactions.
10. Update your help center
When customers are shopping online for gifts, they often seek information about returns, exchanges, receipts, and various other issues. Additionally, as you attract new customers, it’s essential to ensure they have a smooth experience with your checkout process. To address these concerns, take a closer look at your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and help resources. Make sure these valuable resources are prominently displayed on your website.
Furthermore, consider providing options for real-time assistance, such as toll-free phone numbers and live chat to offer immediate support and enhance the overall shopping experience. Your customer service team plays a crucial role in providing this assistance; therefore, ensuring customer satisfaction during their online shopping journey.
11. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
With barely any time to shop, customers now prefer to purchase on the go and check out their orders in fewer clicks on their mobile devices. That’s why many eCommerce businesses developed mobile sites that will make the shopping process quick and efficient.
It’s important to optimize your website for mobile viewing on a range of devices, from smartphones to tablets, and that features such as help and checkout are easy to access on a mobile device. This will ensure a seamless and excellent shopping experience for your customers.
Gear up your eCommerce store for the holiday season
With the holidays just around the corner, it’s important to prepare your marketing strategy as early as possible. For reliable web hosting solutions, take a look at Web.com’s reliable web hosting plans. These are scalable hosting plans that you can upgrade as your website grows. Enjoy benefits such as 99.9% uptime, unmetered bandwidth, SSL security, and more.
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