How to Prepare Your Online Store for Holiday Shopping Season

Industry News

The last quarter of the year is the high-volume traffic season for many businesses. According to Adobe Digital Insights, consumers spent $108.15 billion online in November and December in 2017, a 14.7% increase over the 2016 holiday shopping season. The growth trend is expected to continue in 2018. As an online retailer, it is the online business opportunity you cannot afford to miss. To get your online store well prepared for the holiday shopping season, here are a few things you need to do right now.

1. Create a Promotional Calendar

A promotional calendar allows you to plan out the steps necessary to execute your campaigns and keep you organized during the busy holiday season. First, review your online sales revenue in the previous year and decide which holidays you want to participant in. Then, map out your email campaigns, promotions, social media posts, gift guides, and blog articles in a printed calendar or an online tool like Google Calendar. Remember to include the relevant details about when graphics and content need to be created, reviewed, and deployed. Refer back to the calendar from time to time and make sure everything is on track.

2.  Test Your Online Store’s Load Speed and Traffic Capacity

It is a good idea to test your online store’s load speed before peak season. Online consumers are impatient. They abandon a web page if it takes a few tens of seconds to load. Many factors such as large image sizes, slow databases, slow external API and code errors can slow down your website. You can check your website’s load speed using Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Tool and identify the breakpoints and bottlenecks on your site. In general, optimizing your images, clearing up your database and keeping your theme and plug-in version up-to-date can help you speed up the website. With faster loading time, your website will have lower bounce rate and higher conversion rate eventually.

When preparing for peak season, you also need to test your website’s ability to handle a large amount of traffic. During Singles Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is a tremendous increase in website visitors. If you cannot stand the pressure, your online store will experience downtime and disappoint your customers. You can test how your site handles higher levels of traffic using services like Load Impact. It will simulate an influx of traffic and see if your website performs well under stress. If your website is having issues, talk to your web host about increasing your bandwidth.

3.   Optimize Your Online Store for Mobile

People can shop anytime and anywhere with their mobile now. During the holiday season, more people browse online stores from their mobile or tablet than usual. To provide good user experience and generate bigger sales, having a mobile friendly responsive website is essential. Website that has a good navigation and search function can help your visitors find what they want quickly. This is especially important during the holiday shopping season because visitors are often constrained by time. To facilitate mobile users, you may go further to work on your mobile site, mobile app or a combination.

4.  Fit the Look of Your Store to the Holiday Sales

A few small changes can keep your visitors in the holiday spirit and increase their eagerness to shop on your online store. When you have holiday sale, do not forget to show a promotion banner on the homepage and create holiday-focused category pages. It can help your customers find your deals and gift packages easily. Gift guides are also a great idea that can both alleviate shoppers’ anxiety about finding the right gift and give your sales a boost. Since people usually concern if their gifts can arrive before holiday, it is suggested to show your delivery time and shipping cost clearly for all products on your website.

Some other improvements such as better product photography, accurate product descriptions and customer reviews are also important when you need to persuade your visitors to make purchase. You can also display stock availability, emphasize savings on discounted products, display “related” and “recommended” products and add wishlist or “save for later” functionality to your online store.

5. Determine Which Ad Channels to Focus On

One of the most important parts of preparing for your holiday promotions is to begin preparing your marketing needs and materials. There are so many advertising channels for online store. Google ads is popular but the bids tend to get more expensive during holiday season. Make sure to use a strong call to actions in your ads and prepare several sets of attractive ad copy to entice buyers. If you have a large customer database, email marketing is certainly the most cost effective channels. Carefully prepared blog posts with search engine optimization in mind for the holiday season can help attract new visitors and buyers to your store. Social media, retargeting, sponsored contents and some other channels may also worth to try.

Do your research, choose the channels that align best with your demographics and budget. Plan out your content for each channel, as well as what copy and graphics you will need and timeframes for putting it all together. Stick to your promotional calendar and keep track of your ROI so you can make more informed decisions next year.