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Prepping for Holiday Season: 5 Last Minute Steps for e-Commerce Success

03 December 2020 09:10, UTC
Prepping for Holiday Season: 5 Last Minute Steps for e-Commerce Success
By Hannah Whitfield

2020 is the year the world went online, and this holiday season is set to be a big one. If you haven’t quite finalized your Cyber Week or Christmas sales schedule, you don’t know where to start, or you’re sitting somewhere in the middle, don’t worry. We’re going to show you some simple steps to make discounts work for you, and to ensure your site is ready to handle the holiday mayhem. We consulted with digital professionals and other ecommerce store owners when assembling this guide, so you’ll find plenty of proven, first-hand insight.

1. Choose how to discount your products

Blanket offer codes are a quick way to offer site-wide discounts, and are simple to switch on and off as needed. But it’s also worth thinking outside the box…

“One of our most creative Black Friday strategies was to include a ‘deal by the hour’ campaign which had a different deal every 1-2 hours. Our analytics showed our customers checking our page nearly five different times that day!”

said Christopher Bancho from The Vapor Shoppe. If you have one or a few products that are the real best-sellers, you can try what’s known as a ‘high runner strategy’, which involves heavily discounting your top products to draw people in, then strategically cross- and up-selling complementary products.

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2. Check your site can handle the traffic

“My number one tip for Cyber Monday is to make sure your site can handle the traffic pouring in. Nothing frustrates a shopper more than slowed screens and glitches”,

says Laura Fuentes from Infinity Dish.

“If glitches happen, they will move on and look for similar deals with your competitors”.

Give your site a ‘stress test’ before launch day. This will help you see just how much traffic it’s equipped to handle, and is easy to do with a tool like k6.io to check this. If you’re nervous about its capacity, and you’re self-hosted, speak to your hosting provider – they may be able to offer a temporary package upgrade to cover you.

There are some other simple steps you can take yourself, too. Like making sure your site is as ‘light’ as possible by compressing all your images with a free tool like kraken.io. This should make your site faster too, which will benefit your customers, and is best SEO practice. A real win-win!

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3. Improve your site’s UX

Now is the time to really make sure that your customers’ experience is the best it can possibly be.

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When people are making impulse purchases (it’s fair to assume you’ll have more impulse purchasers than normal), it doesn’t take a lot to throw them off. Asking for too much information, incorporating too many steps, or not being clear on shipping costs can all take its toll. These are the niggles you need to iron out right now.

If you’re not already offering a guest checkout option, now’s the time to start. This can be a serious conversion aid at the best of times – 28% of consumers abandon their shopping cart for this reason – and it’s particularly important around discounting periods, or when dealing with a higher proportion of new customers than normal.

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4. Make the most of your existing audience

It can be tempting to put a lot of money and effort into paid advertising around the holiday season. After all, you need as many eyes as possible on your site, right?

Yes, paid ads can be hugely successful when implemented strategically and monitored closely – but prices are overinflated around the holiday season, and the competition is fierce. When ads are more expensive, and your products are much cheaper, margins are very fine. If you’re not careful, or you don’t have a lot of experience, you could quickly lose more money than you make.

That’s why we always recommend prioritizing content for your existing audience, with killer email campaigns and clever social media posts. The added bonus of working with email is that you already know what your users are interested in, so can make content that is tailored and valuable to them.

“Leads are in the mind set to buy and will do so if they see what they like”,

explains Alexis Frankel from USA Wholesale.

“Give them what they want! Use data from their previous purchases, abandoned cart items, and average order value to target specific promotions that they will be interested in.”
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5. Don’t compromise on customer service

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This is a manic time for ecommerce store owners, but now isn’t the time for customer service to take a hit. You’ll likely have more emails and messages to deal with than normal. That’s totally understandable, but you should be sure to give customers a heads up about this. An auto-reply email confirming you’ve received their enquiry, explaining you’re a little busier than usual, and giving an expectation of when they will receive a reply will work wonders.

And to make life easier for everyone, make sure all the answers to important information can be found easily on your site itself.

How easy is the following information to find on your site right now?

  1. Shipping cost (should be available from the get-go, not just when a customer is part-way through the checkout process)
  2. Delivery time (and a cut-off day for Christmas orders, if applicable)
  3. Your refunds and returns policies
  4. Contact information

Each business should really have its own unique set of FAQs as well.

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Wrapping it up

We’ve walked you through the most important tips for success over the holiday season, but never forget that both strategy and success will look very different for different types of businesses. You are the person who knows both your business and your customers best, and never forget it!

About the Author:

Hannah Whitfield is a writer for Website Builder Expert, a leading resource in helping people get online. Hannah is passionate about small business, and wants to give you all the insider tips on how to use your size to your advantage to compete with bigger brands.



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