How to gear up for the holiday eCommerce rush

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Every year, the holiday season holds tremendous potential for sales for online store owners. Although it’s hard to predict how the 2020 season will play out, you’ll want to make your best effort at capturing your share of holiday sales.

So what can you learn about what your customers want in an online shopping experience?

This 2020 Canadian eCommerce report from Canada Post shows that 60% of online purchases were made by a small but active group of just 18% of the Canadian online shopping population last year.

This segment is the most coveted of online buyers, called “HYPER+ online shoppers.”

 

These customers are savvy enough to not only drive a large portion of online shopping but to demand a higher level of service. Consider them your new target.

Here are 12 ways to position your online store for success during this year’s holiday rush:

1. Start early

Every business owner with a holiday sales spike knows it’s coming, but the ones who benefit the most are those who start to plan early.

You’ll need time to forecast sales and order enough of the right kinds of products. It takes time to create a plan and implement it, and if you’re still working out the kinks in November, you’ll fall short.

2.Create a plan

Ideally, you’re working from a marketing plan that covers your eCommerce initiatives.

If not, you’ll want to draft a plan that covers all the holidays and special dates you’d like to focus on, and promotions you’d like to run for each.

You may think of Christmas sales to start, but breaking down the season into separate Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Giving Tuesday, and Christmas promotions will help you make the most of each spike in online traffic.

3. Put the spotlight on local

Customers love to support local companies, people and products, so if your team, products or story has a local angle (town, city, or country) — share it!

4. Pay attention to the visuals

Your plan should include a fresh look for your website and your store, with updated holiday visuals and messaging. If you hope to run promotions for different parts of the season, consider preparing fresh graphics ahead of time that can be used for each advertising.

5. Prep your online store

It takes time to load up new products and update inventory levels, so you’ll want to have these tasks done well in advance.

Ensure every item you want to sell online is in your system, with updated inventory levels and detailed product descriptions that include appropriate keywords. This will help more people find your online store through search engines. Make Google, your friend!

Person Writing a List of Tasks on Paper
Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Check out this post for more pro tips on ways to finetune your online store before the holidays.

6. Set up email collection

You’ll have more visitors to your website at this time of year than any other, so make sure you are set up to collect their email addresses for future promotions. Offering visitors a small discount in exchange for their email address can pay off later when you’re able to engage them via email marketing.

Editor’s note: Quickly add a signup form to your website, blog and Facebook page with GoDaddy’s Email Marketing tool. Email addresses go directly into the tool for email marketing.

7. Do a test run

Do a full test of the functionality of your website and store:

  • How do they look and work on desktop, on mobile?
  • Is checkout easy and quick?
  • How quickly does the website load, and how many visitors can you handle at one time?

For this last one, check how many customers you had last year, increase it by your sales increase goal, then ask your service provider if your web hosting can handle those traffic levels.

Make a test purchase and make sure every step of your customer’s journey, from arriving at the website to checking out, is seamless. Fix anything that’s not perfect.

8. Research pricing strategies

Pricing your products is more than just choosing prices you think people will pay, or ensuring you’re covering your costs. There are pricing strategies that can help you sell more by:

  • Bundling multiple items into a packaged price
  • Offering a volume discount once customers hit a certain threshold
  • Offering different versions of items as upsells

Learn all about setting discount codes, including how to know how many discounts you can afford to offer, in this post.

9. Offer the best shipping deal you can

Tall Stack of Boxes Piled Up Outside Purple Door
Free shipping is a sure way to increase completed purchases.
Photo: Curology on Unsplash

If you can afford to offer fast and free shipping, do so. You’re likely to have more people ale.

If you need to set a minimum, keep it as low as possible to ensure your customers don’t hesitate to check out. Most will be sensitive to shipping costs, so make weighing this decision easy.

10. Get the word out

Once you have everything ready, launch your holiday promotion and treat it as an event!

You’ll have competition for their attention, so get the word out early and often.

11. Use available tools

Does your online store allow you to send reminders when shoppers abandon carts without purchasing items? A follow-up email reminder about those items, or related products is a proven way to draw them back in to actually buy.

Does your email marketing tool show you which emails had the best opening rates and how many readers clicked through to your online store? Check the data, then repeat what works.

Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Online Store can be set up to do this automatically.

12. DON’T set it and forget it

Preparing in advance is great, but you can’t launch your holiday eCommerce plan then ignore it. Make sure you’re updating inventory levels, so customers can see what you actually have in stock.

Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Online Store can do this for you as well.

Man Holding Out a Wrapped Gift

Load up new items into your system as soon as possible.

 

Check regularly to be sure there are no technical issues slowing sales. Fix anything that breaks ASAP.

Ready to get started?

These are important steps to consider when gearing up for the holiday eCommerce rush. To recap:

  • Identify what HYPER+ online shoppers want
  • Prepare early
  • Stay on top of your plan throughout the holiday season

The most active online customers will expect a seamless online shopping experience and will reward the companies who can offer it, seasonally and through the rest of the year. Get ready to welcome them!

Jen Roney
Jen Roney is a freelance content marketing writer and owner of Mocha Creative Works, helping business owners tell their stories and connect with their audiences through engaging written content. With experience in communications, marketing and project management, she brings senior-level strategy and execution to businesses looking to grow and connect with their audiences. She knows how to create relationships, build trust and grow customer loyalty, using just the right blend of story and strategy. Connect with her on LinkedIn.