We’ve curated a very brief guide to help you navigate the holiday season – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and everything even after New Year.
If you were not aware, US shoppers hit a record of $201.32 billion online purchases during the 2020 holiday season.
As per a survey by Deloitte, holiday sales on eCommerce sites are projected to grow between 11% to 15%, compared to the 2020 season.
To survive and thrive during the holiday season, you need to analyze, plan and strategize to maximize the most anticipated shopping events of the entire year.
We’ve put together a comprehensive, targeted guide for you to create a checklist to ensure you are holiday-ready with your online store.
These tips are specifically curated for eCommerce merchants who aim at growing online sales during the holiday season.
Planning, brainstorming, and drafting strategies that can help you manage things well is what you need. But what should you focus on, and in what order?
So! You either ended up thinking of nothing or you had an overwhelming amount of tasks in your head.
Don’t worry! To make it easier for you, we‘ve categorized your holiday survival guide into three sections, that include the following focus points:
- Before the Holiday Season
- During the Holiday Season
- After the Holiday Season
Within these sections, you’ll find tasks that must be completed or focused on before/during/after the holiday season.
Let’s jump right in!
Before the Holiday Season
Every merchant wants the biggest piece of holiday pie, but is it easy to get?
Well, we all have experienced the holiday seasons either as a customer or as a merchant; they’re pretty intense :).
As a merchant, ‘before the holiday season is when you must frame a plan of action.
The best time to begin strategizing was yesterday, but doing it today works. Let’s look at the checklist of what to focus on before the season kicks off:
Be Website/App Ready!
You’re running an online store, but you need to run it like a pro during the holiday season. You might receive hundreds of orders within a minute, but is your website and server ready to deliver a seamless order completion?
Website or application loading speed is the very first thing you need to focus on.
According to a report by Nielsen Norman Group, a potential customer might navigate away from your site if they have to wait for 3 seconds or more for the screen to load.
How can you prep your website for holiday traffic? Here’s a quick checklist:
- Make use of CDN, boosting your loading speed.
- Have a constant check on DNS servers to manage the surge in traffic
- Keep a check on your hosting package and the limits
- Closely inspect your site metrics, find areas you need to improve
- Explore & implement advanced features and functionalities
- Inspect mobile experience, optimize it as much as possible
- Scan your certification (SSL) & compliance (Web accessibility, PCI, DSS, GDPR)
- Work on catching options to decrease latency and reduce the load time
- Have testing in place to walk through your checkout process
Important note: If you’re still using the older version of the eCommerce platform, you must migrate to a newer version. Say if you’re running a Magento 1 store, upgrade to Magento 2 to have a powerful and scalable eCommerce platform.
You can even connect with any eCommerce business solution partner to have the right technical expertise at your disposal.
One thing that you cannot afford during your peak sales time is running out of inventory. Not only will you lose a ton of revenue, but you may also end up having a bad rep on your consumers as well.
Make sure you identify your best-selling products, forecast their monthly sales, revisit last year’s sale metrics to make an estimated guess and then pre-plan to stock up for your customers.
Being prepared is the first step to make sure you rock during the holiday season sale. Customers become more enthusiastic and brave about spending before, during, and immediately after the holiday season; you may have orders well beyond what your team forecasted, have a plan in place to deal with such scenarios as well.
Train Your Customer Support Team
Do you have an in-house team to handle customer queries? Are they trained well enough to handle multiple returns or an influx of complaints?
Having the bandwidth to handle the rush of queries is crucial.
If the chances of you going on a sale during the holiday season are higher, make sure you give heads up to your customer support regarding the promotions. Perhaps task them with monitoring the website to devise solutions to handle customer complaints.
You can make use of chatbots or Facebook messenger plugins to answer basic questions that potential customers might have around the purchase. Having a holiday-specific FAQ section can make the life of your in-house customer support team easier.
Pro Tip: Focus on offering 24/7 support or live chats, either manage an in-house team in shifts or hire a third-party customer support team (to check emails, calls, and social media messages).
Must-do before the Season Arrives
Begin with your informational ad campaigns to educate your customers about the sale during the holiday season.
The earlier you begin marketing your offers, the higher the chances of people learning about your promos/sales/discounts. The science is simple, the more content you push, the more ROI you can generate.
Cart optimization is a must before you welcome in the holiday season sales.
Brief checklist to optimize your cart:
- Make use of single-page checkout (integrate smart one page checkout extension)
- Ensure reducing form fields wherever possible
- Include multiple payment alternatives
- Display clear shipping costs and details
- Enable guest checkouts (it works)
In-cart upselling is another must-have on your eCommerce site. Think about cross-selling your best sellers, making buckets of products that complement each other. Do your homework, make use of extensions that help in showcasing automatic related products to your customers.
During the Holiday Season
If you’re all prepped up for the holiday season, you must now work on making the most while you’re on sale.
Give Customers Reasons to Cheer!
It is a known fact that customers love sales & discounts. During the holiday season, you must come up with enticing offers to resonate with what customers are searching for.
Be it Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas, your customers will be expecting discounts on what you offer on normal days. Pay attention to this space and design a discounting strategy that can benefit your store and sales.
Have discount coupons or a sale that makes your customers think “wow, this is a spectacular deal!”
Additionally, if you sell multiple products, offer some unique and practical holiday bundles. Your customers are going to love it, and best of all they are going to snag them up!
Just like early promotions and ads, last-minute reminders can do wonders for online sales.
Reminders during the sale can create urgency in consumers’ minds to complete a purchase and make the most of the holiday deals. Also, it helps in converting consumers’ who might be indecisive about making a purchase; having reminders can push them toward pulling the trigger on that abandoned cart or products browsed but not added.
Have an email campaign in place for reminders, boost your social posts at appropriate times, and make use of remarketing or behavioral targeting to promote your sale.
Cart abandonment technology is a blessing. There may be multiple reasons why a customer might have filled their cart with your products but haven’t completed the purchase yet. Sending a “you’ve forgotten something in your cart” message can help in reducing the cart abandonment rate.
Another area to focus is on notifying your customers about ‘selected discounts’, ‘complementary items’, or ‘back-in-stock alerts.
Pro tip: Create an automated cart and browse abandonment automation or SMS campaigns. Make sure you work with a graphic designer to win back your customer with well-designed and stand-out email content.
Run Ad Campaigns
It is time to blast search and ad campaigns.
You must use the majority of your marketing budget during the holiday season to boost your offer or your most sought-after product.
Ads are not free, but if done correctly, ads pay for themselves, and then some!
Your competitors will be sponsoring ads on social media, running ads on search engines; how will you stand out, how will your brand compete?
Try creating polls, advertising discounts through influencers, creating contests, showcasing the big discounts through video ads.
Pro tip: Ensure you are upselling and cross-selling your bestsellers. Smart product recommendations in conjunction with your ads can act as a massive revenue boost.
A Team For Final Push
During the holiday season, ad campaigns, cart abandonment strategies, and discounts are all a must-have for your eCommerce store. But to wear that Santa hat on your head, you must be ready to perform some additional push strategies.
A constant check on key performance indicators (KPIs) is what we’re talking about.
A team that ensures everything is going as planned, helps in creating the magic. Additionally, they can help in finding areas where you might be lacking to deliver the required experience. Such checks can help you push the right product on social media and optimize your ad spend to maximize your profits.
Have a marketing or strategy team to keep an eye on your sale-generating products and examine heavy hitter product/landing pages. Keeping things optimized during the sale can have a dramatic impact on customer experience and revenue.
In addition, learnings and takeaways from Black Friday & Cyber Monday sales can be capitalized during Christmas and New Year Sales.
After the Holiday Season
The Holiday season is not only for generating higher sales and revenue, the holidays must also be perceived as an opportunity to increase your customer base and retention rate. Hence there are certain steps that must be taken post-holiday season.
Asking for Feedback
You’re done with the holiday season, apart from the revenue you must have some learnings as your key takeaways. If something went wrong during the holiday season, you must know what, why, and the how behind it.
Apart from finding it through tools you may be using, directly reach out to your customers. Create a customer satisfaction campaign, a survey, poll, or anything else to gain and learn what your customers thought about the sale. SurveyMonkey is one easy-to-use tool for this purpose.
Create a Roadmap for Next Year
One thing that we love about holiday seasons is that they return every year :)
Make sure you list down your learnings from this year to correct them during the next holiday season. You already worked hard this season to raise the sales, it can act as your roadmap to double it next year.
By doing this, you’ll be able to survive the next holiday season on your own.
Before you embark on the journey to boost sales this holiday season, we have one last tip for you.
Make sure you tie it all together.
Your holiday sale, products, campaigns, content, and strategy must be in sync with one another.
Holiday seasons are the busiest of the entire year; however, that doesn’t mean your business should be less efficient. Planning with the right strategies, tools, and productive team can help you witness an exemplary holiday season.
So, take your time! Have some brainstorming sessions with your team, pick the right tools to work with and you should be all set.
In case you’re running out of time, hire a top eCommerce marketing agency to guide you through the nuances of holiday planning. They can make your life easier with their planned and fully managed solutions.
Remember, there’s always a way to win the sale.
All the best! Happy Selling.