It’s the most wonderful time of year! Christmas is one of the biggest shopping seasons for retailers in-store and online. And while competition in the eCommerce space is pretty tight throughout the year, this is even more true during high-volume shopping periods. Brands need to stand out from the crowd in order to win sales and create long-term relationships with new customers.

The period between December 15 and 24 typically accounts for the bulk of all Christmas sales. That means there’s not much time left to get ready for the influx of orders, so we’ve put together a checklist to help you get prepared this holiday season. We know the days and weeks leading up to the holidays are a whirlwind for online retailers, but there are some tips that can make this years’ shopping season a little easier (and more profitable).

Stand Out This Holiday Season

Getting your store ready for the holidays takes a lot of dedicated planning months in advance. But even the weeks leading up to Christmas present plenty of opportunities to spruce up your store and make connections with consumers. Here are some tried and tested tips to help eCommerce businesses prepare for the busiest shopping days of the year:

Learn From Last Year 

Before you do anything else, think back to last year’s holiday shopping season. Understanding what went well and what could have gone better is the first step to creating better processes moving forward. Here are some questions to ask to get the most out of your holiday review:

  • What went really well?
  • What didn’t go smoothly?
  • What were your most popular products?
  • Which days and hours had the highest traffic?
  • What were your most successful marketing campaigns?
  • Which marketing channels produced the most conversions?
  • What were your best-performing keywords?
  • How much revenue did you earn last season?
  • What was the average order value?
  • How did your competitors fare?

Finally, ask yourself what is different about this year from last year? Taking into account staffing changes, business restructuring, new suppliers, the shifting pandemic, and rebranding will all give you some indication about what will work best for your online store this season. 

Get in the Holiday Spirit

Even though your store is online, you should still decorate for the holiday season!  An undecorated page is unlikely to get much attention, especially since shoppers will be scrambling until the last minute to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. 

You should update your landing pages with festive themes and include holiday-related promotions on your website leading up to the big day. It’s also important that online shoppers can easily find your holiday sales and gift sections, so be sure to make it very obvious where they can find these pages.

Optimize Your Website

Running and maintaining an online business means your website is your storefront. That’s why it’s crucial to hire a remote developer that can get your site looking and running its best. According to recent statistics, over half of all developers working today have under five years of experience under their belt. This means it’s easier than ever to land a developer who is up-to-date on the latest trends and frameworks. 

Website optimization means making your website easy to use and easy on the eyes. Customers expect responsive web pages that load quickly, as well as simple navigation tools that allow them to get exactly where they need to be on your site. 

Make it easy for visitors to buy things from your online store. For example, put the navigation at the top of the screen, and make holiday sections bold and bright. If you are offering discount codes, make sure they work as expected. These small adjustments will make your website better equipped to handle the holiday influx of traffic

Increase Content Marketing Efforts

The holiday season is a chaotic time for online retailers, but it’s important to keep creating content. Content marketing is attention-grabbing, interactive, and can help build relationships with your customers. And with everyone’s marketing efforts at an all-time high, content marketing can help your brand get noticed by higher quality leads. 

Content marketing can be anything from blog posts to Pinterest videos, Instagram giveaways to email marketing – anything that uses rich content to provide value to your customers. How-to videos, tips and tricks, and articles with relevant content are all great places to start. 

And, of course, use your content to talk up your Christmas promotions. One study revealed that 44% of email recipients said a mass promotional email helped them make one or more purchasing decisions.  

Update Your Mobile Experience

Don’t forget about your mobile shoppers! Not only are more people shopping online since the onset of the pandemic, but more people are using shopping apps on their phones to do so. 

Simply being “mobile-friendly” just doesn’t cut it. Instead of rearranging your content so that it looks more uniform on mobile, use a responsive web design that is able to change according to what type of device is accessing your online store. Mobile optimized web pages will have larger buttons and smaller images as well as auto-fill forms and multiple screens to avoid endless scrolling. 

What’s more, according to recent surveys, 71% of customers prefer to pay with a credit card. And now, even more, people are paying using apps like PayPal and Klarna. It’s important to make sure your payment gateway can accept many payment methods and works seamlessly on mobile devices. 

Highlight Your Shipping and Return Policies

Research shows that 56% of millennials expect same-day and next-day delivery options. Shoppers that are cutting it close to Christmas day will probably realize that shipping time might be an issue. They will want to know when their packages will get there and if they can return them. 

To avoid an influx of customer service tickets, highlight your shipping and return policies in several places where they will be seen by all visitors. Product pages, cart view pages, checkout portals, and even on your homepage are all great places to highlight these policies. 

Bump Up the Customer Service

With the holiday season comes a spike in sales, which also means more customer service tickets. 

Some companies bring on temporary, seasonal workers to get through the Christmas rush. Holiday staff are lifesavers, so make sure they feel like they are a crucial part of the team, even if only temporarily. A recent survey showed that when there is a low level of respect among workers, holiday staff are 26% more likely to quit.  Plus, there could be some very talented individuals who have the potential to be long-term assets to your online business.

And if you haven’t already, you need to deploy a chatbot service on your homepage. According to one survey, 64% of consumers agree that 24/7 support is one of the biggest benefits of chatbots. It will also make it easier for your business to handle a large influx of customer communications by passing off easier tickets to bots. 

Conclusion

The holiday season is a hectic time of year for online retailers, but the holiday spirit must carry on. Follow these tips before the biggest shopping week of the year, and you will have a much smoother experience. Get your online store ready to meet the needs of your customers, so they’ll be coming back for more in the New Year. 

If you’re dragging your feet this year, check out our webinar recording for some tips for your last-minute holiday marketing campaign. 

Author Bio

Lee Li is a project manager from ShenZhen, China. She currently lives in Singapore and works as a B2B copywriter. She has a decade of experience in the Chinese fintech startup space as a PM for TaoBao, MeitTuan and DouYin (now TikTok).