Summer might feel like a recent memory, but with Christmas just around the corner it’s important to start thinking about getting your online store ready for the holiday rush.
Internet shopping continues to rise year on year, so here are my top tips for getting your store ready for what could be your most lucrative quarter.
Is your store ready?
Start by looking at the products on your store. Optimize images and give your site a festive feel. Images will play a big part in capturing the attention and hearts of shoppers. If your product photos are low resolution or have poor lighting, maybe it’s time to re-shoot them ready for the holidays. You might not want to upload them yet, but careful planning will take the stress out of what is going to be a busy time.
Check your site. Does it load well? Is your web address memorable? Are all the links working? Does your site work on all devices? Are your stock levels right? Make sure there isn’t any ‘out of stock’ products appearing on your store. Show that your site is secure with an SSL certificate.
Are your product descriptions accurate and of a good length? If they aren’t, online shoppers may be wary of buying from you. All of this careful planning helps build up your SEO which will boost your Google rankings making it easier for shoppers to find you.
Make checking out easy
Your customers are going to be busy leading up to Christmas. According to a recent survey conducted by PwC, when it comes to online shopping, Americans value convenience above all else: 58% of survey respondents say convenience is the main reason they shop online, with price being a distant second at 32%. Don’t have your customers abandoning the checkout process out of frustration. After succeeding in the hard work of getting them there, losing conversions due to a complicated or lengthy form is far from ideal. Use a checkout that allows you to take payments directly on your store.
Have a plan
Calculate your projected sales figures and work hard to stick to them. Visit our 6 essential tips to increasing sales.
Build the hype. ..slowly!
Plan your marketing campaign but start subtle. Traditionally the Christmas buying season starts the day after Thanksgiving, but so many people have done their Christmas shopping by then. I’m not suggesting that you start customizing your store with Christmas trees and tinsel just yet! A great way to start your Christmas campaign is to start blogging about it. If you have enabled StoreBlog, you can blog about what you’re planning in the run up to the Holiday Season. Put teasers for your upcoming sales on your blog or Facebook store to create awareness. According to a recent report by Deloitte more so than ever, consumers plan to use the Internet to research holiday buys and 50% will use social media during their shopping process when it comes to holiday spending. Get your customers to leave feedback and reviews on your StoreBlog and Facebook store.
If you’re looking to promote discounts for those shoppers looking for a bargain, start to plan what coupons and sales you’re going to offer on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Money can be tight at Christmas and customers will be looking for a great deal.
Use every avenue available to drive traffic to your store. Get your advertising in the right place. Define your best customer and seek out the right way to reach them. During October and the early part of November, these won’t be Christmas related ads. You are planting shopping ideas and hints that will be harvested down the road.
Don’t have a big marketing budget? Utilize social media. A recent survey found that consumers have an appetite for social commerce, that fusion of online social communities with seamless purchasing capability. More than two-thirds of US respondents said social media influences their online shopping behavior.
Time to Get Festive
When you start to celebrate Christmas on your store is up to you but it’s essential that you aren’t the last store out there to start celebrating. Customize your store with some festive features to entice your customers. Winter Morning is a festive design for your store. A word of warning though – if you have a high customer base, don’t make drastic changes to the navigation or layout right now. This can cause disruption to customers’ shopping flow. If the site has drastically changes from what customers are used to, it could cause confusion, frustration and lead to abandonment.
Get to the Christmas Markets – this is the best way to raise your profile and connect with your customers. See face to face what your customers are interested in. Wrap up warm, grab a coffee and have fun. Pick their brains about what they bought last year. What items make good gifts? What price ranges are they looking for? What is their average Christmas budget?
Monitor your stock carefully
Choosing the amount of stock you need over Christmas can often be difficult, especially if you are investing in seasonal products. On the one hand, you don’t want to miss out on a share of the market, but on the other you don’t want to be left with surplus stock in January that you can’t sell. Look at what sold well last year. Finding a pattern could make ordering your stock each year much easier, so make sure you keep a note of everything.
Reach out to your customers about your most popular products – nervous customers will want reassuring that products will arrive on time.
Spread some festive cheer
Your average customer will recruit three other customers during the time they do business with you. What makes customers talk about you? Usually the way they were treated. Add a personal touch. Offer a helping hand. Give them personal attention. This could be a handwritten note in their parcel. Point out new items to customers on your blog. Sales and relationships go hand in hand.
Get your staff involved!
The holidays are a great time to have fun and a season of goodwill. Why not get your staff excited about Christmas and this will reflect in their attitudes. Organize a competition among your staff to create a Christmas card to send out with your customer orders. A personal touch will help your customers to feel valued and connected to your brand. Your staff can make a big difference to the success of our business over Christmas. Why not treat them to a Christmas lunch to say thank you for all their hard work, especially if you need them to work on days that most people usually have off like Boxing Day or New Year’s Day.
And finally…Don’t forget January!
No doubt if your Christmas campaign has gone well, you’ll be exhausted! Plan ahead and get your January sales with discount codes and coupons. Getting ready early will help you to jump on your competition and bring in the shoppers. Marketing plans take time to plan and work if they are to be successful. Bring it on!