10 Holiday Preparation Tips for a Successful eCommerce Season

The holiday season is usually the busiest time for most online stores. Planning for the influx of holiday shoppers means an often endless list of items to check off, like “what sort of promotions should be in place?” or “will there be enough items in stock”? However, there are other important items that can often be overlooked. So before things start to get too hectic, here are 10 holiday preparation tips for a successful ecommerce season you should consider before the holidays arrive.

1. Incentivize Your Customers

Well, Let’s start with the basics. Offer your customers free shipping, as that is one key word that increases in search volume around the holidays. Another incentive could be to include stocking stuffers as a reward for certain order values.  Here’s an example – a $50 purchase comes with a free gift. Most ecommerce platforms have extensions for this simple feature. Another bonus? Offer gift wrapping as an option at checkout. This is an added convenience to your customers and saves them time.

2. Gift Cards, Rewards System, Groupon-Style Product Sales

Many ecommerce systems have extensions for gift cards that are easy to implement. Another system that builds loyalty and might just get you that sale is to introduce a points and rewards system. Although not as simple to implement as gift cards, a points system provides your customers will more incentives to purchase future items on your store as they build up rewards. Finally, many ecommerce platforms have extensions for a Groupon-style promo. Consider a ’12 Days of Christmas’ or an ‘8 Nights of Chanukkah’ promotion where one or more products are offered at a significant discount for that one day.

3. Bundle Products

Bundle similar items to help users find related products or accessories that allow them to get what they need with fewer clicks.

4. Illustrate Your Point

Glossy banners showcasing your top selling products or unique graphics on the homepage speaks volumes about your business by adding a professional and custom touch to your site. To create a sense of urgency in your shoppers, add a ‘time left for holiday shopping’ countdown box. Also consider including a holiday gift guide to aid readers in their shopping experience.

5. Optimize Your Site

Having a beautiful site is one thing, getting people to find it is another. To help your store turn up in search results, optimize your site by introducing seasonal product pages and seasonal copy throughout.  Write rich product descriptions that allow both your customers to glean helpful info about your product and gives search engines extra material to crawl through. After, submit an updated XML sitemap to Google and Bing to make sure they have all your new content and product pages updated.

There are free tools out there to help you, like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Find holiday related keywords that will work for your products and optimize website copy around them. Another nifty tool is the Bing Ad Intelligence add-on in Excel; there are several lists of thousands of keywords all centered on holiday searches.

6. The Speed of Your Site is Critical

Did you know that  47% of consumers expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds and that 79% of shoppers are less likely to buy from a slow site? There are many aspects that go into site speed. To get an idea of how your site is performing, check it out www.webpagetest.org.

7. Don’t Forget Mobile Users

Mobile ecommerce has leaped exponentially over recent years. Create a pleasant shopping experience for mobile users by implementing a responsive design that automatically readjusts all of your content to fit nicely within the browser.

8. Get Those Analytics Ready

Once all of your marketing tactics have been employed, check your conversion, remarketing, and mobile tracking to make sure they are all deployed and working correctly.

9. Keep Customers in Mind

Offer gift cards and gift certificates. Many ecommerce systems have extensions for gift cards that are easy to implement. Bundle similar items to help users find related products or accessories that allow them to get what they need with fewer clicks. Also, make sure your Returns Policy is easy to find. There’s nothing more frustrating then hassling with returns, so make it easy on them!

10. Spread the Word

Now that you’ve got some nifty promos in check, its time to market them. Send out a newsletter and post a blog entry to highlight these promotions and encourage them your customers to write reviews of their prior purchases. A whopping 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Include a holiday gift guide to aid readers in their shopping experience. Keep your social media channels alive and well with links and updates on twitter, facebook, and your other social channels.

Being prepared for the holidays can make a big difference to your ROI. We hope you have found these 10 holiday preparation tips for a successful ecommerce season useful and wish you a very successful holiday season!

Author Note:
Rudy Interactive is a creative agency based in Thousand Oaks, Ca. We have over 10 years of experience in web design, development, SEO and marketing.

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