With the holiday shopping season upon us, your e-commerce business needs to be prepared to handle the extra traffic and orders that are about to come in. Whether you are preparing your Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas or New Year’s campaign, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
The most important thing is that you start planning early. Reports from 2015 have shown that customers begin their holiday shopping as early as August. If you are reading this article in November, you are already late and have to play catch up. However, you need not fret. Follow the rest of our tips and you may just catch up. We have included tips on how to prepare your website for the extra traffic, inventory, personalized offers, shipping and more.
Prepare your website for incoming traffic. The most important thing you have to do is to prepare your website for the additional traffic that is about to come your way. Make sure your servers can handle it and that your site and pages load fast. Ideally, your pages should load in less than 2 seconds. Any more than that and a potential customer might turn elsewhere. Once your servers and site are in order, you are ready for the next step towards a successful holiday season for your business.
Festive design. Immediately following tip number 1, give your website a festive makeover. Spread that holiday cheer with your template and product pages, but make sure you do not overdo it. Knowing when to stop may not be easy, but follow your instincts. Ask yourself what would you like to see on other websites when doing your holiday shopping and follow up on that idea. You should also make sure that the respective coding can be quickly removed once the holidays are over and you are back to business as usual.
Mobile friendly site and simplified checkout. We would like to put special emphasis on this step. Do not forget that a lot of customers use their mobile devices to do their shopping. Do not let these holiday shoppers turn somewhere else. Make sure your site is mobile friendly, easy to navigate and simplify the checkout process. Let them checkout as guests and offer various secure payment options so they can choose whichever payment method is most convenient for them.
Integrate social media. Integrate those social media icons to your pages. And here we are talking about every single one of your pages. Make it easy for your customers to share what they have purchased with their friends, motivate them to continue shopping by gathering likes or retweets on their post and give them a special discount for their next purchase if they do so. Chances are they will be back on your site quite soon to use that discount.
Personalized offers. Personalize your content and shopping experience for each individual. Use past browsing history and past transactions to your advantage. Combine related products and recommend the customer to purchase them together. Make sure they can be easily added to the shopping cart. Remember that you want these customers to keep shopping with you even after the holidays.
Hire influencers. Largely depending on your holiday budget, hiring influencers can be a step in the right direction. If you can afford to sponsor content on a few popular lifestyle vlogger channels on Youtube, you will reap the benefits later as subscribers have learnt to trust their opinion. Go the extra mile and let them host a giveaway or contest for your products as everyone loves free things and motivate potential customers to see what else you can offer.
Free shipping. A lot of customers abandon their shopping cart when they see the shipping costs. You do not want to lose these customers, so why not offer free shipping on orders over ‘X’ amount of money? Customers are willing to buy more products to reach that margin and ultimately you will be able to pay off the extra costs.
Bundles, contests and discounts. We have already mentioned these as they work hand in hand with some of our previous tips but here they are again. Customers love buying bundles of related products, especially if you throw in a little freebie in their package. You will not regret your decision of preparing customized bundles for the upcoming holidays. Host a contest with the help of your influencers and give a few bundles away. Give the rest a limited coupon or discount code.
Stock up on inventory. Make sure you have enough products to sell. Going through the trouble of doing all of the above and then running out of stock will annoy both you and the customer. Know how many pieces of each product you have in storage and make sure you can hide or remove them from your website as soon as the last one is out. There is nothing as annoying for a customer as clicking on a product only to see that it is out of stock during checkout.
Customer support. Last but not least, have enough people handling customer queries. Hire more staff just for the season if necessary, but do not leave your customers without service. If they feel like they are well taken care of, they will be back before you know it.
Bonus tip: Send a follow up email to all your customers wishing them a happy holiday and asking about their opinion on the service or product you provided. The results will help you prepare next season’s offers even better!
We know some of these steps do not sound that simple to execute, but follow them carefully and they will prove to be well worth the effort. We assure you that this holiday season will be extremely successful for your e-commerce business. You will thank us later.
Happy selling and Happy holidays!