Can you believe it’s already November?
Everybody is already busy planning for Christmas and your store will be getting crazy busy handling orders left, right and centre.
When you’re in the thick of things, nothing can be more distressing than realising that the items which your customers are interested in are actually out of stock.
Or that the shipping company which would normally deliver parcels for you could not accommodate you.
To prevent that from happening in the most profitable season of the year, we list 12 things you can do to prepare your eCommerce business for the holidays.
#1 – Stock up
On the 1st day of eCommerce Christmas, list your best sellers.
You may also want to look up frequently searched for Christmas gifts on Google Trends.
Once you have figured which products to add to your inventory, meet up with your supplier to discuss the earliest time they could deliver new stocks.
Apart from Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday should also be taken into consideration when planning your inventory as they kick off the holiday shopping season.
#2 – Create Holiday Banners and Images
On the 2nd day of eCommerce Christmas, get everyone excited for the holidays by posting Christmassy banners and images on your website.
This triggers anticipation and enthusiasm, which are important factors for increasing customer engagement on your site. They also show you are relevant and up to date!
#3 – Ensure Mobile Efficiency
According to the online retailing association IMRG, more than 50% of UK’s online retail sales in Q4 2015 was made through mobile devices.
That goes to show that more and more people are using their tablets and smartphones to shop nowadays.
So on the 3rd day of eCommerce Christmas, test the checkout process on your website using a mobile device to ensure it’s free of any glitches and offers a flawless checkout process.
#4 – Offer Great Deals
On the 4th day of eCommerce Christmas, start rolling out your deals and be part of the week-long sales period in the run-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Make sure the deals are staggered throughout the week as this will help you generate incremental sales and be easier to manage logistically rather than all in one day.
Also, it would help putting a countdown over certain items which you want to sell fast to give that sense of urgency. (Think about Amazon’s Black Friday Deals)
#5 – Plan your Email and Social Media Messages
On the 5th day of eCommerce Christmas, send out personalised emails announcing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, holiday vouchers, free gift wrapping and other cool offerings.
Set aside your standard email template for the time being, and think up a good subject line to get your email read.
In addition to that, spread the word on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to name a few.
Not only is this going to draw attention to your special offers, it’s also going to get your site more social shares.
#6 – Keep ‘em Updated
Shopaholics can’t get enough of extra product information, especially during the holiday season.
The more you dish out, the more you keep them engaged.
On the 6th day of eCommerce Christmas, blog away to keep them posted on your deals, pricing, shipping and other pieces of information that affect their buying decision.
#7 – Have a Clear Returns Policy
On the 7th day of eCommerce Christmas, be open to the fact that some of your customers could return an item which they purchased from your store.
Having said that, see to it that your product pages have a returns policy which clearly stipulates the conditions on which customers are allowed to return a product and how your Christmas opening hours will affect these.
#8 – Meet with a Reliable Shipping Company, but Secure a Backup
On the 8th day of eCommerce Christmas, arrange a meeting with a reliable shipping company to discuss your options in relation to your expected levels of parcels and shipping points.
Also, you need to know their shipping deadlines so that you can inform your customers of the dates.
Delivering orders on time is the key to gaining lifelong customers.
However, let us not discount the fact that there are people who would wait until the last shipping date before placing their orders.
It would help to have a backup courier that can readily provide last-minute shipping in case the company you’ve partnered with couldn’t accommodate you.
#9 – Use Holiday-inspired Packing Supplies
It’s one thing to get your customers’ orders to their doorstep, it’s another thing to do it in pretty boxes.
On the 9th day of eCommerce Christmas, make your customers feel the holiday spirit with Christmas inspired packaging supplies.
You want them in shades of red, green, gold, silver and even blue.
#10 – Put Customer Support in Place
On the 10th day of eCommerce Christmas, make sure that you are ready to address your customers’ queries and concerns in a timely manner.
You can have someone handle this task for you, or do it yourself if you want to.
Also, the Contact Us page on your website should include the hours that you provide customer support apart from your contact information.
#11 – Prepare for Boxing Day
On the 11th day of eCommerce Christmas, prepare for Boxing Day!
Just because it comes after Christmas Day, doesn’t mean Boxing Day won’t be useful to your business anymore.
In fact, the data of IMRG and Experian, a consumer credit reporting agency, shows that online shoppers in the UK spent £856m in last year’s Boxing Day.
These figures are expected to get bigger this year, and you sure want to be amongst the businesses that benefit.
#12 – Staff up
On the 12th day of eCommerce Christmas, be sure you have an extra pair of hands processing the high volume of orders and ensuring that shipments are made in a timely manner.
You can either hire someone or outsource these tasks; check out our Outsourcing Course to get a better understanding of these two options.
Responding to customer queries and listing new products on your website or other areas in your business which you will definitely need help with, too.
So there you have it, our 12 sure-fire ways of making your online store a success in the upcoming holiday season.
How are you preparing for your eCommerce Christmas? Feel free to share what you’ve been up to in the comments.
To your continued success,
Dave & Matt