Getting your ecommerce store ready for Christmas
To make the most of the Christmas bounce in sales, you have to get your ecommerce store ready. What are the things you should look at, though, and what should be your priority? Here are some things you should consider.
Evaluate Last Year – And Your Competitors
Start by looking at what happened last year – what worked and what didn't. Include in this evaluation your offers, the order fulfilment process (including delivery), the functionality of your store, the speed and uptime of your store, and stock levels. Identify areas that need improvement or enhancement. It is also worth thinking about what your competitors did last year. Is there anything you can learn from them?
Now we are getting to the practical steps you should take, and at the top of the list is the functionality of your ecommerce store on mobile. Ideally, your ecommerce store should look as good on mobile as it does on desktop. All features should work on mobile too, and it should be fast. If this is not the case with your store, you should review your mobile set up.
Next, do a general check-up of your website. Here are some things you should look out for:
- Make sure your site runs quickly
- Check for broken links
- Review your product descriptions and images
- Generally declutter your pages
- Make sure all your page titles and descriptions are unique
- Review your product categories and store structure
- Review you store’s security, particularly password security
- Make sure your CMS, theme, and plugins are up-to-date
- Review your website hosting and upgrade/change if necessary
Update Your Shopping Cart
You should also review your shopping cart. Many store owners regard shopping carts as functional tools, but this is only part of what they do. Shopping carts also play an important role in improving conversion rates. In particular, a high quality shopping cart that is well-configured will improve your shopping cart abandonment rate.
Start a Blog
A blog is a great way to connect with customers, enhance relationships, and build loyalty. It also helps with the SEO of your ecommerce store. If you haven’t started a blog yet, now is a good time to start.
Design a Customised Homepage
Many ecommerce stores make minimal changes to their homepage at Christmas. You can make yours stand out from the crowd while also being more relevant and appealing to customers by designing a customized homepage. This can include images and text but the two most important things are:
- Christmas related offers – on-trend products or items you want to promote
- Delivery information – how long your delivery takes and the last date you can guarantee pre-Christmas delivery
Review Your Payment Options
You might be losing out on sales because of the payment options you offer. This particularly applies if the number of payment options is limited. You don’t want a customer to buy from a competitor because they offer a payment method that you don’t. You should, therefore, offer as many payment methods as you can.
Prepare Advertising and Marketing Campaigns
Now is the time to begin preparing your Christmas advertising and marketing campaigns. You probably won’t launch these until November and December, but the earlier you can get them ready, the better. This includes PPC ads, email marketing, and social media marketing as well as online marketing efforts. You should:
- Develop the marketing message for this year
- Come up with special offers to include in your advertising
- Write the text of your campaigns including PPC ads, social media posts, and content on your website
- Develop the images, videos, and other creatives you need
- Create landing pages
Remember to create urgency in your campaigns. At Christmas, customers are going to spend money. The only real question is whether they spend it with you or someone else. One of the best ways to ensure this happens is to create urgency.
Explore Alternative Forms of Advertising
Staying ahead of the competition to maximise your Christmas sales means you should look at alternative means of advertising as well as what has worked for you in the past. Three possible channels are mentioned above: PPC campaigns, email marketing, and social media. If you don’t use one or more of these at the moment, you should explore if they are a good fit for your business.
You can also try other forms of advertising that you might not have tried yet. Examples include Facebook ads or retargeting ads.
This tip is about thinking about the things that customers are concerned about at Christmas and working out if there is anything you can offer that deals with those concerns and gives you an edge on the competition. Here are some examples:
- Lowering or scrapping your delivery charges
- Improving the speed of delivery
- Offering a complimentary gift wrapping service
Take some time also to ensure you have an analytics service properly set up and configured on your website. Google Analytics is one of the most widely used. With this in place you can effectively measure and analyze the work you have done to maximize your Christmas sales.
Don't Forget Post-Christmas Sales Shoppers
Finally, start planning for the post-Christmas sales. You won’t have much time between the Christmas rush and the sales season so you should put as much in place as you can now.
You might not get all of the items on this list completed before you start seeing the annual sales uptick for Christmas, but the more you can, the better your results should be.