Preparing Your E-Commerce Business for the Holiday Season
While the year may have passed in the blink of an eye, we are rounding in on the holiday season once again. For e-commerce stores and online retailers, this is potentially one of the most lucrative times of year — and the chance for serious growth.
With the pandemic still causing pain points for brick-and-mortar stores, it’s no surprise that many holiday consumers will be turning their attention to online shopping this season.
Last year, almost half of U.S. consumers decided to opt out of in-store shopping, and global ecommerce sales rose by more than 25%. While some shoppers may look forward to returning to physical retail stores, it’s still expected that ecommerce will remain at an all-time high, especially as the economy starts to shuffle towards recovery too.
For ecommerce businesses, it’s essential to get prepped so the power of the peak season doesn’t knock you off your feet.
Here’s how to get ready for that potential holiday rush…
7 things to do to get your ecomm business holiday ready
1. Check for speed and security
One of the most important things you can do to get prepped this holiday season is to make sure your inventory is well stocked and your website is ready. If you are going to focus on the most important avenues, check your site for speed and security.
There’s nothing that will throw a spanner in your online selling more than a website that can’t handle increased demand. Make no mistake, a slow-loading page will lead to lost revenue as the first five seconds of a page load time have the highest impact on conversion rates.
Nearly 70% of users say page speed impacts their decisions to buy. Make sure your site speed is up to scratch and double check that any third-party add-ons and integrations are functioning properly.
2. Up your user experience
Your aim is to make your customers’ online experience simple and easy and to create a seamless shopping experience from start to finish. This doesn’t start when someone presses the “pay now” button. It starts way before, on the very first interaction.
While prepping for the holiday season, you should be doing all you can to simplify and boost the user experience. This means ensuring your SEO is fine tuned to help customers find what they need; constantly updating your inventory so customers aren’t being led down dead ends; and making your high-converting products easier to access on your mobile, web and social media sites.
It also means making checkout easier by allowing guest checkout and keeping it all tucked neatly into a single page. It means being flexible and giving options for shipping, and it means connecting all your channels for unified commerce.
3. Be fully mobile optimized
Shopping on mobile devices is up, and this trend is going to continue over the holiday period. Make sure your ecommerce business is fully optimized for mobile so you can provide a friction-free experience for your customers.
One of the most important elements of being mobile-friendly is not to overwhelm. Simplify menus, optimize search functions and streamline payment methods by offering Google, Apple and PayPal options so consumers don’t have to fish for their credit cards when on the go.
4. Give your customers what they want
Online shopping has been a game changer over the past couple of years, and with huge growth comes higher customer expectations. Nowadays, consumers expect fast (and often free) delivery as standard; easy returns; and longer peak season sales.
Online shoppers will be looking to major holiday retail events like Black Friday, Thanksgiving and the seasonal shopping period — and will expect to find unmissable deals.
Along with having deals mapped out and lined up, with a plan for communicating these special offers, you want to make sure you have the logistics lined up, too. An unprepped ecommerce business may get caught short with delivery and shipping demand.
An estimation in 2020 noted the gap between demand and shipping supply for ecommerce businesses was a staggering 7.2 million packages a day. Make sure you have these kinks ironed out as early as possible to avoid an avalanche of customer dissatisfaction.
5. Start building the hype
The holiday period is a great time to max out on those deals, coupons and special offers. Now is the time to start planning what you’ll be offering your consumers for the months ahead, and now is also the time to start building that hype.
It’s worth building a strategy around special offers and email marketing to make the most of this period that promotes buyer frenzy and FOMO. Tailored messages; segmentation; building suspense ahead of sale releases; and sending email reminders regarding sale releases and abandoned carts should all be part of this equation. The holiday period is a great time to up communication with your consumers to build momentum.
6. Make the most of social
If you can, develop your social content calendar a month in advance to build momentum and excitement over the holiday period. This is a great time to consider countdown techniques to
rally excitement and to create social-only promotions that can grow your market, speed up conversions and build a sense of urgency for spenders.
It’s also the time to build partnerships with influencers and pay close attention to trends. Remember, the holiday period is a time when everyone will be searching for ideas on what to buy — influencers and social content can truly make the difference. It may be worth upping your content marketing budget for this period to make the most of the holiday haul.
7. Get festive
The holiday period is a great time to pull in new buyers and turn them into loyal customers. By upping the experience and adding a few festive and thoughtful touches, you can stay ahead of the competition all year round.
Make it a memorable unboxing experience by adding personalized notes, a free festive gift or special offer, and even a QR code that leads to a personal thanks from the team. Sure, it’s a little extra time and effort, but these are the things that stick long after the tinsel has been taken down.
Brandee Johnson is the owner and CEO of LimeLight Marketing. After a 15 year run in corporate America, working for leading brands Deluxe Corporation and LEGO, Johnson followed her long-time dream of starting her own company and founded LimeLight Marketing, a brand, digital marketing and development agency that helps brands foster customer trust and grow market share. Since then, the agency has grown rapidly to serve companies across the US.