It is not too early to start preparing for the greatest shopping season of the year. Use these 9 tips to prepare your online store for the holiday season.
Savvy marketers know planning ahead of time for any event, is the key to success. To reap the sales windfall from the greatest shopping time of the year, you must begin now to plan.
Failing to prepare your online store for the holiday season could be the biggest mistake you’ll ever make.
The holidays are around the corner, and a large number of shoppers will soon flood the market in search of the right gift to buy for their loved ones.
Will your store be amongst the lucky ones to cash in on this event, or is it just going to sit there and allow an opportunity to pass it by?
As an online retailer, you have to ensure that everything is all set to give these customers the ultimate satisfaction during this holiday period.
And it would be a disaster if your site were to crash due to the heavy traffic. Or run out of stocks before noon, or worse, fail to deliver the goods on time because you did not hire extra staff to handle the delivery.
To save you from this possible tragedy, and adequately prepare you to take advantage of the holiday season we have compiled a list of the most important things you need to do to prepare your online store for the shopping spree
Profit-Boosting Actions You Can Take Right Now To Prepare Your Online Store For The Holiday Season
Decide on the relevant holiday to prepare for
You’ll have to pick out the holidays you’re going to be preparing for. Because it won’t make sense to take part in every holiday on the calendar, that would be madness, and the cost would be too much for you to handle.
Therefore, you’ll have to do a little research and find a holiday where you will matter.
Although it might sound like a piece of cake, selecting a holiday in Nigeria can be a little tricky.
We have so many tribes and ethnic groups with their different holidays. But if you’re to narrow it down a bit, you’ll see that Nigeria has 6 top holidays that a large number of its population participates in:
- Eid al-Fitr (3rd – 5th June)
- Eid al-Adha (11th – 13th August)
- Independence day (1st October)
- Christmas day (25th December)
- Boxing day (26th December)
- New year’s day (1st January)
So to effectively concentrate all your resources and yield maximum profit, you’ll have to pick out a holiday that is relevant to your niche and customers.
According to shopify.com
“most retailers make up to 40% of their yearly revenue in the last quarter alone.”
So if you’re new to doing holiday promotions on your online store, and don’t know which holiday to be a part of, we suggest you start with the holidays in the last quarter of the year, like Christmas day, Boxing day, and New Year’s Day.
Update your site design
Changing a few elements and themes to reflect the holiday season can significantly increase your customer’s experience and willingness to keep shopping.
You can add a banner with a few images and write-ups that conveys a positive message about the holiday.
It is also essential to improve product photography and description; this is because most people make a split-second decision to buy a product by merely looking at the product photo.
For instance, if you sell clothes online, improving your clothing photography and descriptions will go a long way in highlighting your clothing items’ best features, ensuring potential customers can get a complete picture of what to expect when they order.
So the crispier the images you upload are, the better. This means you may want to consider investing in a good camera or hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your products.
While tweaking and updating your website for the holiday season sales, resist the urge to make wholesale changes to your website’s design and navigation layout.
Although changing your store’s design to appeal to new customers might seem like a great idea, it is not.
A total change in the site’s navigation might come as a surprise and shock to old customers. Also, the hassle of relearning how to navigate your store could prove too much which could cause them to abandon your site.
Make it easy to check out
A recent study showed that as many as 69% of your customers abandon their carts when the checkout process takes longer than a few clicks.
Hence, we recommend you take a good look at your site’s checkout from a customer’s perspective.
Go through the process of ordering an item from your site. Does the whole process feel seamless?
Get rid of all features and steps that are non-essential to the checkout experience.
One quick hack to improve your customer’s shopping experience is to optimize your checkout section in a single page.
This way, your customer will only have to complete the whole process on one page and then click submit to be done.
Test your site’s load speed and traffic capacity
It’s the holidays, and customers are impatient. They want their purchases done as quickly as possible so they can spend their time on other things.
Hence, they’re not going to stay long in a site that takes forever to load. So you have to find a way to speed up your site’s load time.
A few things that contribute to a site’s loading time is a slow external API, code errors, slow database, and large image sizes. Large images are usually the most common reason for a site’s delay.
So after taking quality pictures of your products, be sure to compress them before uploading to your site. Use Tinypng, a free online image optimizing tool to compress the image size.
Also, check your site’s load speed using “Google Pagespeed Insight” or “Pingdom,” both are free online tools that will not only show you your site’s load speed but also what’s causing the delay.
Your site’s server strength is another thing you’ll need to check before you go live for the holiday.
The primary aim of preparing for the holiday season is to serve a large number of festive customers.
But if your servers are not prepared to handle a lot of traffic your site will crash under pressure and disappoint your customers before you even start making money.
You can check your site’s traffic capacity by using services like “load impact”. It will flood your website with millions of fake visitors to test your site’s strength.
If you’re having issues with your site’s traffic capacity, talk to your web host about increasing your bandwidth.
Make your website mobile-friendly
A lot of people shop with their smartphones and tablets more often during the holidays.
According to the export.gov website:
“The current e-commerce spending in Nigeria is estimated at $12 billion and is strengthened by fast-growing youth population and increased smartphone penetration.”
The smartphone gives shoppers the freedom to enjoy their shopping experience while communicating with their loved ones on their favourite social media platforms.
Therefore, we consider having a mobile-friendly site a top priority if you want to provide exceptional user experience and generate more sales.
Plan your promotions
Deciding on which marketing strategy you’ll use to get your name out to the public would require a lot of thinking and research.
If you decide to use Google ad word, you’ll need to think hard about the best keyword to use.
A general keyword would only attract visitors who might not have the intention to buy anything.
So you’ll have to be careful with this one or else you may end up burning your ad money without any significant result to show for it.
Sending promotional messages to your customers would be a very effective method, especially if you have a large customer base.
Social media, influencer marketing, and carefully written blog posts with search engine optimization will be an effective way to acquire new customers.
The truth is, there are no set rules to do marketing for the holiday season. The thing is, your budget and creativity will go a long way to determine what strategy you use.
You may also need to pay closer attention to the feedback you get from your customers, the data from the campaigns to figure out the most effective channels, and then optimize those channels for more results.
The bottom line is: Be ready to test and iterate until you find the channels that give you the best results. Those are the ones you’re going to pour all your energy in during the holiday sales season proper.
Write a clear return policy
One primary reason a lot of visitors fail to complete their order online is that they fear what will happen if they don’t like their purchase.
They often wonder if they can return it, how they can return it, who’s paying for the return trip, how long will it take to get their money back, etc.
We recommend you rewrite your return policy in bullet points and make it prominent and accessible – be sure no one can miss it once they land on your store.
Consider putting a link to the return policy at the footer of your website and also at the checkout section.
This little change can reduce the number of times visitors abandon their carts and also generate more sales.
Work on your inventory
Being a part of the holiday season means a boost in customer traffic. An increase in customers will attract more orders, and more orders will require a large inventory to fulfil these orders.
The best way to know which stock to buy would be to analyze your sales for the previous year’s holiday and find the products that sold the most.
If you’re a new store and this is your first holiday, then we recommend you stick with your original product.
Or you can go on social media and follow the current trends on what will be the most sought after item for that holiday.
Consider hiring more staff
If you’ve done your due diligence and are sure that you’ll be processing a lot of orders.
It’ll be best to get extra help from a friend or hire temporary staff to help you fulfil your orders on time.
If you’re working with a delivery company, you should consider speaking with them about your requirements for the holiday season.
But regardless of the delivery system, you decide to use, be sure you’re all set for a spike in orders and have other options available so you won’t end up with a bunch of unfulfilled orders and a horde of angry customers.
For most e-tailers, the holiday season is usually the time of the year when they see a spike in traffic to their websites and increased demand for items.
The shopping season offers e-commerce stores a profitable window to balance their book for the year.
Hence, it is vital that the online store owners get themselves and their website prepared for the coming holiday season.
Use this checklist to keep track of everything you need to do as you prep your store for the action-packed weeks ahead.