Is Your Ecommerce Site Ready For The Holiday Season?

Is Your Ecommerce Site Ready For The Holiday Season? - QualDev
The holiday season is here. Mad rush, shopping frenzy, long queues and adrenaline thrill, nothing beats the sheer enthusiasm of the holiday season. Retailers have much to rejoice. In fact, some retailers claim to make up to 40% of yearly revenue in the last quarter. It is perhaps the most profitable time of the year for many businesses. Trade analysts and reports predict that online retailers could witness a 15% increase in holiday spending this year, which equates to a whopping $82 billion in sales for the period between November and December.

If you run an ecommerce site, you’re probably gearing up for the holiday season. The last quarter of the year is packed with holidays. Nearly every week in the months of November and December have a holiday.
Shopping Dates in November
November 11thVeterans Day
November 27thThanks Giving
November 28thBlack Friday
Shopping Dates in December
December  1stCyber Monday
December 17thHanukkah
December 24thChristmas Eve
December 25thChristmas Day
December 26thBoxing Day (Canada, UK)
December 31stNew Year’s Eve
However, as an online retailer decide which ones are vital for your business. Remember if you want to succeed, it is about time to plan and strategize early.
Here are few tips from QualDev’s expert marketers and online strategists to make 2014 your best year as an online retailer.
1. Go Mobile

Don’t forget the massive waves of mobile shoppers. Many shoppers will browse your ecommerce site from their smartphones and mobile devices. It is very likely that mobile shoppers will abandon your website if it is not mobile friendly. There are no second chances. Simply creating a replica of your ecommerce store is not the solution. Mobile shoppers often use services like store locators, reviews, and mobile coupons when making purchases. Try to address unique mobile shopping behaviors and ensure all your content renders right on mobile devices.

2. Leverage social media to create buzz

Well, it would be an exaggeration to say that social media leads to direct sales. But that does not mean you ignore networking sites. Social media is perhaps the best way to be in touch with your customers and improve brand visibility. Strategically utilize social networking site pages to create a buzz. Share great content much before the fervour of holiday season begins. Create a promotional calendar and use paid promotions to support your deals. Always encourage and make it easy for customers to share favourite products from your ecommerce site across social networks. Integrate social media buttons Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ onto pages.

3. Reward your social media followers

Remember, networking sites like Facebook and Pinterest are the leading source of traffic for ecommerce stores. If you have highly engaged social media followers, offer exclusive discounts. Try out promo codes on social media sites which will ultimately help you track the platform with highest ROI. It not only helps drive traffic on your social media profiles, but also gives your followers a feeling of being rewarded.

4. Anticipate traffic and stock up inventory

You don’t want to get stuck with too much stock or out-of-stock issues. Holiday season causes a huge increase in traffic and often a big jump in sales. Do you have enough inventory? You don’t want to run lose potential customer the busiest holiday season. It is important to accurately forecast what products you will sell. Put your thinking caps, strategize, and plan your inventory accordingly.

5. Ensure scalability

Communicate with your hosting provider and make sure that you can handle increase in traffic to follow. You don’t want your server down during the biggest shopping fiesta of the year. Is your ecommerce site geared to handle traffic, sensitive information, and sudden increase in additional transactions being performed?

6. Don’t underplay security

Holiday season also happens to be a busy time for hackers. Considering the increasing number of data breaches, consumers are edgy about trusting merchants with confidential account information. Don’t shy away from flaunting secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate for your site, as well as PCI compliance capabilities. Such information will improve customer’s confidence level.

For instance, let your customers know your site is updated against the much dreaded “Poodle bug.” You can consider displaying a banner suggesting secure against “Poodle bug.” It is not just about security certificate, but winning trust.

7. Get your SEO strategy in place

SEO is a painstakingly slow process and takes time. In light of Google algorithms, it is best to optimize top performing pages, starting with home page. Always ensure that you utilize highly searched keywords and match them with title tags and headers. Get pages of seasonal products on same URL in advance before the holiday season kicks in for organic SEO advantage. Coming soon pages can also work wonders. Just link these pages from blogs and external content.

8. Video and 360-degree images

Images and videos win customer confidence in no time. Let’s not underestimate power of images. Dynamic images and videos increases time on site which will phenomenally boost up SEO, traffic, conversions and bottom-line results.

9. Make customers feel special

Ultimately everything boils down to making customers feel special and asking them what they are looking for in fall and winter. You can use polling tool like SurveyMonkey to gauge customer preferences and plan what products to release and discount. Simply bombarding customers with products they don’t need will just not work in favour of your site.

10. Get your free shipping threshold right

Free shipping plays an important role in the thick of the holiday shopping season. However, you need to decide what should be your free shipping threshold based on your profit margins and the average order size.

11. Gear up with email & SMS marketing campaigns

Strike a perfect balance of both email marketing campaigns and SMS marketing. Start out with email campaigns in advance to begin with approximately 6 weeks. Flaunt your best deals, discounts, and enticing offers for the biggest shopping days. Limited-time or limited-quantity offers tend to create urge among customers to act immediately. If your target audience is mobile, ramp up your SMS marketing. Text message marketing can be a powerful weapon to reach on-the-go holiday shoppers who are constantly comparing best deals. In such case, SMS campaign with promotional offers and purchase links to mobile friendly site will do the trick.

12. “Same-day shipping”: Next big thing

Free shipping is not the only deal maker. Speed is, with retailers trying to get packages to consumers within 24 hours. While same-day delivery may not be feasible for most ecommerce store, quick delivery timeframe matters. Especially the 2014 holiday season will be about speed. Is your ecommerce store ready?

Be ready and responsive: Blindly emulating competitors won’t help. The holiday season is about staying agile and responsive to the needs of customers.

For more information on how to get the best out of your ecommerce site, get in touch with us. We’ll ensure you’re up to speed and ready this holiday season.