Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Sharon Paul, Content Writer at The Commerce Shop.
The holiday season is the most beloved time of year for eCommerce site owners. And with each passing year, the eCommerce industry is witnessing record-breaking salesduring the holiday season. According to Statista, the 2015 holiday season had an incredible $79.01 billion in sales revenue and is expected to increase by 13.3% this year!
You might be wondering why we’re talking about holiday season when it’s barely summer. But for an eCommerce site owner, now is the ideal time to start online sale preparations in order to make the most of the 2016 holiday season. Don’t just take our word for it – Brock Murray, director of Web marketing at seoplus+, states, “My number one tip is to prepare your Christmas campaigns in September or earlier.”
Now that you’ve decided to think about preparing your online store for the 2016holiday season, here are some best practices and tips for smooth holiday sales.
Brainstorm The Plan For The Whole Game
eCommerce experts insist that you start your preparations early so that you have enough time to brainstorm new ideas, test them, and prepare your website for the big days. Take time to assess your previous year’s sales and analyze your key areas – The Where, How and Why of your sales. Stats are an easy way to gauge your upcoming sales performance. And remember to build your plans around your target audience.
Some of the important elements to consider while planning
Create a to-do list or mark them on your calendar. Categorize your strategies like the image below! Pen down all that you want to consider – The whole shebang – to boost holiday sales, with intricate details like the person responsible, deadlines, etc. This helps you visualize the big picture and be well prepared for the big holiday season.
Google Loves Mobile-Friendly Sites
Google is quite serious about mobile-friendly sites. If your site is not responsive, get ready to be penalized. In 2015, it was projected that 30% of shoppers would complete their shopping on mobile devices. An eMarketer study shows that by 2017, mobile usage will reach almost 70% – Thus, the importance of having a fully responsive site cannot be stressed enough.
What can you do?
The best practice is always to ensure you design around your mobile audience. If you’re unsure of the responsiveness of your site, you could:
- Conduct Google’s Mobile friendly test and take a look at the ‘Mobile Usability’ report from Webmaster.
- Try creating a mobile version of the site. You could probably try with bMobilized or Duda Mobile.
- Try out the mobile plug-ins on your CMS platform.
Don’t Forget What A Smart SEO Strategy Can Do For Your Sales
Google Analytics gets smarter year after year. For driving heavy traffic and ranking high during the most important part of the year, you need to constantly pay attention to your SEO strategies.
- Analyze the previous year’s SEO behavior before you start optimizing for the current year.
- This includes forming a list of keywords that are specific to the holiday season andcross-checking your website’s keywords with the top performing ones.
- Use Google Trends to stay updated about the trending keywords of the season.
- Use our favorite keyword tool –Pro Rank Tracker! Get automated reports and instant updates on all your eCommerce keywords.
Avoid Going ‘Out Of Stock’
One of the most disappointing moments for your buyers is to find their favorite products sold out. In doing so, you’re letting them slip away to competitors, thereby losing potential customers.
What can you do?
- Review previous sales reports and identify the top selling products so that you can stock them in your warehouse.
- Enable low stock threshold per product alerts to notify you on out of stock products.
- Implement softwares like inventory management which can provide real-time tracking and monitoring of your inventory.
Test And Retest Your Website Strength And Speed
There’s nothing worse for an eCommerce site owner than for their site to crash during the peak hours of the season. Be ready for surprises and plan for contingencies in the face of outages. And most importantly, remember to test your back up server’s limit, as well.
- If your eCommerce site is on Drupal Commerce, then you have reason to relax. Drupal is known to handle enormous sites and is a savior in handling site traffic during critical situations.
- Figure out how it works on your platform and how to make the best use of it.
- Make sure your server can handle the increased traffic and concurrent users expected during peak shopping days, like Black Friday.
- Test your site’s performance. Studies show that 47% of shoppers expect your page to load in under two seconds and 57% of them are ready to abandon your site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Hence, improving your site’s speed should always remain your top priority.
- Our favorite site speed tool: Pingdom.
Complex Checkout Process – Key Reason For Cart Abandonment
The holiday season is a busy time not just for you, but also for your customers. If your checkout process is messy, takes too long or has limited payment options, then don’t blame your customers for abaondoning their carts.
- Allow guest checkout or easy social media logins. Providing one-click checkouts helps easy conversions.
- Allow them to edit the product size and quantity on the check out page.
- Display trust symbols and security certificates.
- Don’t surprise your customer with hidden shipping fees or taxes on the checkout page.
- It’s the holiday season. Hence, provide options to let customer send the gift as a ‘surprise’ to recipients.
- Provide multiple payment options.
Don’t Compromise On Your Site’s Security
Hackers love the holiday season as much as you do. In fact, they will constantly be on the look out to find ways to hack your site and steal your customers’ credit card details. Sadly, this season is the time when many security breaches happen.
Did you know: Internet fraud affects your brand and could cost you nearly 5% of your total revenue?
Steps To Safeguard Your Website:
- Take the necessary security precautions during this holiday season by doing a security audit and testing your site in multiple scenarios for possible cyber attacks.
- Implement a strong supply-chain management system.
- Use SSL authentication and display the trust seals to improve your credibility amongst your This gives them the confidence that their personal information is is safe with you.
- A quick tool to test SSL and security is SSL Labs – Take a few seconds and make sure your site is safe!
Plan Your Offers And Deals
The most exciting part of the season for customers is the endless offers, fat deals and discounts. People flock to your website when you have amazing deals and offers. Plan your holiday deals and offers well in advance, to excite your customers.
But, keep it simple. This is the best way to attract new customers and promote your brand name. For example, big companies like Starbucks saw 26% boost in their profit with a simple loyalty program.
- Plan the type of offers and freebies for the holiday season.
- Send personalized emails with incentives and special offers to customers who have left their cart without completing their purchase.
- Modify your loyalty programs, referral offers and plan some amazing customer rewards for first-time shoppers.
- Provide early bird offers for a selected products.
- Remember to test the coupon codes before you advertise them.
Bring In The Holiday Mood Through Personalized Marketing
Start your marketing campaigns early, so that people are aware of your exclusive offers. Be it social media, retargeting, in-app ads or emails, ensure you build a bond with your customers.
- Know your customers thoroughly by studying their on-site behavior, interests, history of purchases and searches.
- Send personalized emails to customers in your existing and new databases.
- Use dynamic content, personalized subject lines, focus on their personal likes and interest.
- Mail your customers, then bring in the festive mood with a custom mailer template with images and videosto improve engagement.
There’s always a chance to make your holiday season better. The key is to have an organized plan to do all that’s possible to create happy customers, which will eventually lead to ‘Happy Holiday’ sales!
Author bio: Sharon is a content writer at The Commerce Shop. She writes about eCommerce conversion optimization trends. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her planning her next solo trip!