How Local Merchants Can Optimize Their E-Commerce Store to Prepare for the Upcoming Christmas Season
The holiday season is fast approaching, and as an e-commerce store owner, you should get ready for it. The holiday season is the best opportunity for any e-commerce store to hit their target sales and achieve growth. This is the time of year when people naturally open up their wallets and are ready to spend money on the best deals that they can find.
To save yourself from the stress and to take advantage of the boost in potential customers, you need to prepare your e-commerce store in time. In this article, we’ll talk about when you should start preparing, and how you can optimize your e-commerce store for the upcoming Christmas season.
When Should You Start Preparing?
When it comes to planning and preparation, it’s always better to start earlier rather than later. Why leave until later what you can accomplish today? The problem with big holidays such as Christmas is that there are several things that you can potentially do, but you need to decide what you can actually handle with the limited time and manpower that you have available.
This is applicable for any holiday season throughout the year. In this case, we’re obviously focusing on the Christmas season, but there are so many times in a year where a big event might be a good way to generate some extra income from themed holiday events and sales. Such holidays include Valentine’s Day, Easter, New Years, and so on.
Planning is always key. At the start of the year, list down the holidays that you want to be promoting. Then, outline the time that you want to spend preparing for and promoting these holidays. This will help you save some time down the road, as you won’t be scrambling for ideas and time to do the work.
So, how do you optimize your e-commerce store to prepare for the upcoming Christmas season? Here are 9 tips to keep in mind.
Establish a Holiday Sales Plan
Start with the basics – establish a solid holiday sales plan. Define in advance what your goals are for the holiday season. The holidays are the best time to attract new customers to your e-commerce store and retarget old ones. You need to decide on special promotions and gift packages. Plan the changes you need to make in your platform’s design. Also, don’t forget about your marketing strategy.
Analyze and Learn
To help you establish your holiday sales plan, analyze last year’s statistics and learn from them. Understanding the success or failure of your holiday campaigns can help you create better campaigns for this year. Analyzing data can also show you better ways to meet your customers’ needs.
Here are some questions you should ask when reviewing last year’s data:
- What were your most successful campaigns?
- Which days had the best traffic?
- What was your most popular product(s)?
- What did your competitors do?
- Which keyword(s) worked well?
- Which traffic source/platform was the most popular, and most profitable?
Decorate Your Online Store with a Holiday Theme
Decorate your e-commerce store accordingly. You don’t need to redesign your whole website. Usually, you can just add a ‘skin’ to the main sections and pages. Choose a nice holiday-themed design and be as creative as you can.
For instance, you can create a winter fairy tale on your website to strengthen that holiday spirit. Or, you set up a timer counting down the days until Christmas. This can actually produce a feeling of urgency that the holiday is coming and that customers need to do their Christmas shopping as soon as possible.
Note: Don’t change too much in terms of navigation! You want returning customers to be able to easily find what they are looking for. Also, don’t forget the call to action buttons.
Plan Email Marketing Campaigns
Holiday email marketing campaigns are essential. This is the time to remind your customers that they can buy their Christmas presents from your company. If you have enough data, you can also send them special offers and personalized product ideas.
You can also consider providing your customers with special discounts or promo codes on special products, or free shipping offers. Plus, you can create a little urgency by adding a deadline to your offers.
Another good tip is to send email reminders to people who have abandoned their carts. Many customers add a product to their carts and leave the page. There are various reasons why people do this – from a bad connection to deciding whether it’s the right option for them. Especially since during the Christmas season, people often need more time to decide. An email reminder can do wonders. Research shows that about 45% of cart abandonment emails are opened – around 21% clicked on them, while 0% of the users who clicked also end up making a purchase.
Create Gift Guides
Don’t underestimate the power of gift guides – they are very useful for people who need gift ideas and inspiration. Also, consider separating the guides into sections so users can easily find gift ideas whenever they need it.
Plan Holiday Promotions
Plan your holiday promotions ahead of time. Promotions can help boost sales and make it easier for customers to choose what to buy, especially if they are still undecided. Here are some ideas to help you plan your holiday promotions:
Choose your top-selling products. What are your best-selling products? Do some research and find out which services or products are the most popular during the months and weeks leading up to the holiday. Then, choose which items you want to put on sale, highlight them, and make it easy for your customers to find them.
Prepare special bundles and gift sets. Offer specially selected holiday bundles and gift sets. You can combine complementary or similar items into one bundle.
Offer gift cards. Many people buy gift cards as Christmas presents to avoid buying someone a gift they don’t like. Don’t lose out on these customers because you don’t offer a gift card! Gift cards can also help boost sales, as people are likely to spend more than the value of the card.
Offer holiday wrapping with personalized messages. The Christmas season is an opportunity to upsell. After all, this is the time of year when people are more likely to purchase other products related to their original purchase.
Offer free shipping. Free shipping is an excellent way to encourage more purchases during the Christmas season – and all year round. You should consider offering free shipping at least a few days before Christmas. You can also set free shipping at a certain price to increase the average order value and be sure that the offer is profitable for your business.
Be Active on Your Social Media Platforms
It’s important that you increase your social media presence during the Christmas season. Publish as many holiday-themed posts as you want. Share your Christmas offers with your followers, ask them about their holidays, and so on. Engage your customers in conversation. The Christmas season is also a great time to run contests on social media. For instance, Twitter is a convenient way to keep your customers updated on your latest offers; you can use Instagram to post pictures of Christmas gift ideas; or you can use Facebook to get the word out about a contest that you’re running in the days before Christmas.
Focus on Content Marketing
Most local merchants tend to only focus on ads during the Christmas season. However, boosting your content marketing can also give you a big advantage against your competitors. For instance, you can make a ‘Most Popular Product’ list or gift guides for different familiar members. You can also write blog posts about Christmas decorating ideas, shopping tips, and more. It’s not only useful to your visitors, but also helps SEO.
You should also consider writing holiday-themed newsletters to keep your customers up-to-date with any offers that you are promoting during the Christmas season. A newsletter is a great way to reach as many of your past customers as possible without spending too much money. The good thing about newsletters is that you can theme them up for different holidays.
Highlight Customer Service
You’ll find that visitors will reach out to you much more often during the Holiday season. They might want to check if the product(s) they order will arrive on time, or they want to learn more about a certain product. That’s why you should highlight your customer service and make sure that you are always ready for any customer inquiries.
It’s really important to start preparing your e-commerce store in time for the holidays. Make sure to keep in mind these 9 tips so you can optimize your e-commerce store in preparation for the upcoming Christmas season.
Here’s a little bonus tip – automate your marketing campaigns now! That way, you just need to focus on your customers during the Christmas season.