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Holiday eCommerce Tips – Is Your Site Ready For The Holidays?

Ecommerce tips to prepare for the holidays.

It may be summertime, but the holidays will be here soon. With revenue predictions for the 2022 holiday season in the trillions, retailers need a strategy to have a successful holiday season. Getting ahead of the holiday rush starts with building a roadmap now. To achieve holiday goals, brands need to map out the tasks and the timeline to stay on course. The following holiday ecommerce tips are a great place to start.

Holiday Strategy:

As with any good plan, the first step is identifying the goal. The holidays are an important time to attract new customers while keeping current customers engaged. The goal may be to increase the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) of new and current customers, which adds significantly to the bottom line. This can be accomplished with an exclusive experience that is true to brand.

Brands can implement these 3 holiday ecommerce tips now to prepare for a successful holiday season.

  1. Enhanced Customer Experience
  • Having a holiday friendly, easy to navigate website is one key to success. Utilizing holiday colors, themes, and music spreads the holiday spirit and encourages buying. Whether the customer is decorating, entertaining, or gift-giving – the right site experience will enhance holiday cheer.
  • Customer support channels that efficiently resolve customer issues are crucial. Staffing and training customer service representatives and ensuring live chats are a quick, reliable way to provide support are essential in today’s market. It might feel early, but the proper levels of staffing need to be determined soon. It takes time to post job openings, pour over resumes, interview, and hire new employees. Then, onboarding and training must be done to get new hires up to speed quickly before the holiday rush.  
  • The importance of ease-of-use cannot be stressed enough. Add a product filter feature, make check-out easy, and allow for popular forms of payment like e-wallets. If you offer a coupon, make it easy to click the coupon to use, easy to copy and paste, or better yet, add the discount automatically to the cart. An easy shopping and check-out experience will bring your customers back for more.
  • Inventory levels are an often-overlooked area of planning. Ordering top selling merchandise now could ensure inventory levels are adequate since global supply chain issues are still a consideration.  
  • Offering perks like free expedited shipping or loyalty rewards are good ways to enhance customer satisfaction. Early access to stores, exclusive events, and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) promotions can also be used to drive foot traffic to stores.

New customers will be enticed by creating a holiday friendly UX that makes ease of use a priority. Conversions will be higher if customers can navigate seamlessly, and have their questions anticipated and answered without needing to reach out to a customer service representative, or if they can easily find the answer themselves without leaving the site. Perks and loyalty programs will keep new and existing customers coming back again and again.  

  1. Integrated Systems
  • New site features should be designed and implemented now to allow time for testing. Black Friday is not the day to be working out bugs.  
  • Update SEO to reflect holiday search patterns. Search queries during the holidays can differ from other times of the year. Check that search terms include relevant holiday searches on the product line. This increases site visibility and can drive more sales to the site.  
  • Prepare the site for a higher volume of traffic. Testing and back-end adjustments should be completed well in advance of the holidays.
  • Ensuring the site is mobile friendly will capitalize on the nearly 54% of purchases made on mobile devices.
  • Website load time is even more critical than normal during the busy holiday season. If the site takes too long to load, potential customers will move on to competitors.  
  • Customized site search and product sort features will facilitate ease of use for the customer.
  • Integration between systems and departments increases efficiency and enhances the customer experience. Customers expect a seamless experience between online and in store. Loyalty programs, returns, BOPIS, and coupons need to run parallel to create a unified experience.
  • Holiday shopping is different from everyday shopping. Customers are bombarded by offers, coupons, and promotions. During the year, they may go to their favorite website and purchase an item. During the holidays, they may open 5 websites at a time to compare features and prices. Coupon on this site? Sold. Expedited free shipping? Sold. But what about when they have to stop to prepare dinner? Or get sucked back into work? Cart abandonment notifications to the rescue. For those times when someone intended to buy but didn’t make it that far, a cart abandonment notification can easily bring them back to where they left off to complete the purchase.  
  • Make the checkout process easy. When consumers can purchase products easily and quickly, it reinforces the positive shopping experience. It increases the chance of multiple purchases and decreases the number of abandoned carts.  

  1. Personalized Marketing

After carefully thinking out the strategy, mapping the tasks on a timeline, ensuring the customer experience is amazing, and getting all systems ready to go – now it is time to start promoting! Multiple channels, such as: email campaigns, social media posts & paid ads, SMS, and in-store promotions create an omnichannel approach. Keep in mind there are four timeframes to Holiday shopping:  

  • Prior to Black Friday
  • Black Friday through Cyber Monday  
  • Post Cyber Monday through Christmas and Hanukkah
  • After Christmas and Hanukkah

Standing out during the busiest time of year is not that difficult to do with a little planning. Having more engagement with customers early on will result in higher sales. Getting there first is a great strategy for staying top of mind. Staying the course throughout the rest of the holiday season, and beyond, is also necessary to capture each cycle of consumer behavior. Automated, personalized campaigns can be built out now with triggers for each stage of the customer journey. This is a fantastic way to automate getting there first and having touchpoints throughout their journey to ensure proper conversions.

Intelligent product bundling, holiday sales, and gift cards will entice new customers and increase how much current customers spend. An email campaign with best-selling items or suggested add-ons enhances the customer experience. Plan out weekly promotions now. And don’t forget relevant post-purchase messaging. SMS or email follow-up is not only acceptable, but it is the one time of year it is expected. Staying top of mind is crucial amidst the holiday noise.

With a premium on everyone’s time during the holidays, what better way to gain customer loyalty than to offer gift wrapping, customizable gift notes, and easy return/exchange policies? These simple add-ons are not only a revenue boost, but also a way the customer feels like they are receiving a premium service while saving their precious time wrapping gifts later.   

Every brand strives for a successful holiday season and with these key ecommerce tips, it is easy to create a roadmap to be ready for the holidays. By creating a holiday strategy, enhancing the customer experience, integrating systems, and personalizing marketing efforts, brands can enjoy a successful holiday season.  

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Founded in 2011, IM Digital is a full-service e-commerce agency for D2C, B2B, and retail brands ready to become a household name.

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