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15 Tips to Preparing Your eCommerce Store for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, and as an eCommerce store owner, you should get ready for it. It is the one time of the year when your store could make up to 40-50% of its yearly sales. You can feel the tension in the air and the stress on the streets, in the shops, and most of all, on your eCommerce platform.

People want to surprise their families and enjoy such a magical holiday. However, many have no clue what to buy, or simply don’t have the time to go shopping. That is an opportunity for you and your online shop to make your customers happy.

You need to make everything easy and accessible to them – from gift ideas to fast shipping, easy returns, an intuitively designed website, etc.

In this article, we will have a look at 14 tips that will help you turn your eCommerce store into Santa’s workshop.

1. Prepare a Holiday Sales Plan

Start with the basics – you need a strong sales plan. Define in advance your goals for the holiday season. The holidays are the best time to attract new customers to your website and retarget old ones.

You need to decide on gift packages and special promotions. Plan the necessary changes you need to make in your platform’s design. Also, don’t forget about the marketing strategy.

2. Decorate Your Store with a Holiday Design

Decorate your site’s homepage accordingly. You do not need to redesign the whole website. Often you can just add a “skin” to the main sections and pages. Pick a nice holiday theme and be as creative with it as you can.

For example, you can create a winter fairy tale or easter colorful garden on your website and strengthen the holiday spirit. Or you can set up a timer counting down the days until the seasonal holiday. This trick produces a feeling of urgency that the holiday is coming and that customers need to make their purchases as soon as possible and also adds to the -festive mood.

Whatever holiday theme you choose, stick to the following rules:

  • Add holiday sales to the site.
  • Highlight your promotions and gift packages.
  • Don’t change too much in terms of navigation. You want thr returning customers to be able to find what they are looking for easily.
  • Remember the call to action buttons.

3. Plan Holiday Promotions

Plan your holiday promotions. Promotions boost sales and make it easier for customers to choose what to buy, especially if they are undecided.

Choose Top Sellers

Which are your top-selling products? Do some research. Find out which products or services were the most popular during the months leading up to the holiday. Afterward, decide on the items you want to put on sale, highlight them, and make it easy for customers to locate them.

Choose Top Sellers

Sephora highlights their bestsellers and the top-rated items by the community. On the left, they have different filters that can help customers find the right gift that fits their budget. They filter prices from under 10$ up to100$.

Suggest Gift Cards

Gift cards are a life-saver for people who don’t know what to buy. And as an added bonus, new customers may visit your website to use their gift cards.

suggest gift cards

Source: Etsy

Offer Holiday Wrapping with a Personalized Message

During the holiday season, you can seize the opportunity to upsell. This is the time of the year when people are more likely to purchase other products related to their original purchase. This happens because people are encouraged by all the promotions and offers around.

Statistics by the National Retail Federation show that online sales grew significantly during the 2021 holiday season. Actually, the most successful holiday was Cyber Monday, followed by Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Create ‘Make Your Own” Gift Opportunities

When it comes to holidays and exchanging gifts, people usually open their hearts for personal, custom-made presents with a unique touch. So, many online retailers have included the option “Make Your Own” in their offerings.

With Easter just around the corner, some brands have created campaigns that promote customer creativity and personal preferences. This also prompts people to browse through your product assortiment and plan for future special occasions.

Prepare Special Gift Sets and Bundles

Another idea is to offer specially selected holiday sets and bundles. Here you can combine several similar or complementary items Victoria’s Secret, for instance, included different colored cosmetics in their creative “Merry Pinxmas”.

4. Plan Email Marketing Campaigns

Holiday email marketing campaigns are a must. This is the time to remind your customers that they can buy their Christmas presents from you. If you have enough data, you could also send them personalized product ideas and special offers.

You could also offer special promo codes, discounts on special products, free shipping or a discount on shipping to those customers who typically open your email offers. Of course, don’t forget to create a little urgency by adding a deadline to your offers.

Another good tip is to send a reminder email to people who have abandoned their carts. A large percentage of customers add a product to their carts and leave the page. The reasons for this are various. From a bad connection to deciding whether it is the right option for them. Especially since during the holidays people often need more time to make a decision.

Also, a reminder email can do wonders. Research shows that more than 40% of cart abandonment emails are opened; 50% of these were% clicked on ,,and 50% of the users who clicked, also made a purchase.

asos email marketing campaign

Source: OptinMonster

5. Personalize Your Paid Ads

When you create your ads, stick to the mentioned above personalization. People get frustrated when they are overwhelmed with ads. During the holidays your customers will be seeing ads from your competitors as well.

The way you can stand out is to personalize offers for different customers. The chances of boosting your sales with personalization are better. Remember that people don’t spend time going through impersonal ads.

6. Keep Remarketing in Mind

You have probably seen the perfect gifts for some of your friends and family while browsing a while ago. You have probably even bookmarked them or added them to your favorites, so you can buy them later once the Christmas season approaches. That’s what your users also do.  But as it usually happens, nobody checks the saved things on his browser or Instagram.

That is exactly why remarketing  exists in the first place. Also referred to as “retargeting”, it s a marketing strategy where you target the users who have visited your page before and interacted with it. Remarketing is a great way to remind people about your shop and reach high-quality potential customers.

7. Create Gift Guides

Etsy holiday gift guides

Source: Etsy

Don’t underestimate the power of gift guides. They are really quite useful for those who need inspiration for gift ideas. Also,  it’s a good idea to separate your gift guide into sections, so users can easily find great present ideas whenever they need them.

Etsy provides a nice guide that comes in handy for customers who want to create a customized present. Check the screenshot above and see how Etsy created a Christmasy feeling with the title “We consulted some elves…”.

In their guide, they offer personalized family Christmas sweaters, portrait mugs, name necklaces and many different gift ideas.

8. Create Shoppable Posts On Instagram

Imagine your customers scrolling through their Instagram account and they see an amazing sweater that would fit their best friend perfectly. Instead of going to the website, making an account and searching for this sweater, you can create a shoppable post. This way the only thing they need to do is tap the post, see the price and proceed to check out. Fast and easy.

Smart insights have a wonderful article with tips on how to make your posts shoppable on Instagram. Check it now, because the Holidays are approaching.

To get further inspired, check out this round-up: Creative holiday marketing campaign ideas from digital marketing experts.

9. Optimize Customer Experience

Let’s now focus on the customer experience. There are a number of ways to track and improve your customers’ online shopping experience on your platform. Look for shortcuts, simplicity and intuitive design.

The holiday season – with its higher traffic and more intense customer demand – is not the time to experiment with your buyer’s path. Do that in advance. You don’t want to invest your effort, time and money in creating a customer journey path contrary to your clients’ needs and point of view.

user-experience-vs-design

Source: Pinterest

10. Think Mobile-First

We live in a mobile-first world. Your website probably works perfectly on mobile devices, but still, confirm that it doesn’t experience any problems while your customers are shopping.

M-commerce (Mobile commerce) is becoming larger and more popular. Especially before the Holidays. According to eMarketer’s data, people shop using a mobile device at this time of the year mainly because they are traveling and don’t have access to a desktop. In addition, t M-Commerce in 2021 is likely to have an 18.8% to $97.15 billion increase during the holiday season as opposed to the rest of the year.

Testing the mobile version of your website is obligatory, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t make any huge changes. Do you remember the customers who found the perfect gift for their brother in August and in December they came back to your site to buy it? They should be able to locate the item easily and not don’t waste their time searching for it.

11. Consider More Flexible Return Policy

When talking about eCommerce for the holiday season in your online store it’s a good idea to have your return policy in a visible place. Furthermore, you should also consider implementing a liberal return policy. If customers need to exchange an item, don’t make it more difficult for them.

12. Check Your Inventory and Secure Your Back-End

Before starting a promotion check your inventory and make sure you have enough items in stock. The same applies to products highlighted as bestsellers. Don’t forget to make sure your security is up-to-date.

13. Check Your Website Is Working Perfectly

Since you expect a huge amount of traffic, this is not the time to introduce new features or functionalities to your website. If you have to introduce changes to your website, don’t make them too big.

Remember – your customers have become used to your site’s interface and if you introduce too many modifications they will simply confuse and may go to your competitors.

Make sure your website can manage the heavier than usual holiday traffic. Here is a helpful guide with a useful checklist of things you should consider when preparing your store for the holiday season and its traffic.

14. Live Chats and Customer Service

Confirm that you have your online customer service covered and accessible at all times. At this time of the year, customers are more likely to contact customer service or reach out to brands via chats. You can highlight your live chat option, so users can message you directly.

15. SEO

Before and during the holiday season, brace yourself for loads of holiday-shopping oriented search queries. Therefore, you need to make sure you rank high on SERPs for these phrases. So, it’s a good time to invest in content updates and other SEO tweaks across your website.

Holiday Season SEO

Wrap Up

You now have the big picture of what challenges your website will face during holidays and how you should be prepared for them. Start optimizing and checking your website as early as possible. This way you will help your customers to buy great gifts and have a wonderful celebration.

You need to consider a lot of things. From elaborating a sales plan, through marketing campaigns and decorating your website. Don’t waste time, prioritize and start working right now.

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