The 2021 Holiday Guide for Online Stores

It’s that time of the year again… The holiday season is arguably the most important time for many eCommerce stores. When it comes to December, your online store needs to be ready for the big show.

Your online store should represent your brand, so how it looks and performs is especially vital during the busiest shopping time of the year. Your website is like a store window, so you want your customers to easily come across the right products and services so they make a purchase.

Today we’ll be going over some great ways to successfully plan your online store for the holidays! If you’ve already started planning, or you need some last minute tips and advice, this is for you!

Set clear goals and measure your performance

To start off, an amazing way to successfully plan your online store for the holidays would be to define your goals! Determining your number one goal for the holiday season will help you ensure that all strategies and tactics you put in place would direct you toward achieving that goal.

One common way to do this is to set goals. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. For any of our product-based owners, you may want to increase sales from repeat customers during the holidays.

This year is unparalleled to any other when it comes to online shopping, so look at your numbers from last year and consider taking some tips from our recent blog on ‘ Key Website Analytics Tools to Enhance Your Business. ‘ There you’ll find all you’ll need from website traffic to bounce rates.

Which leads us to determining your metrics.

Setting metrics for things like your revenue, average order value, units per transaction, website conversion rate, email open rates, email click rates, email conversion rates, SMS open rates, SMS click rates, SMS conversion rates, and overall email and SMS list growth is just the start.

In order to increase sales from loyal customers during the holidays, it’s imperative to count how many repeat orders you have and examine their average order value. Ensure the metrics measured are actionable and easy to optimize the performance of your marketing campaigns.

While measuring the metrics, make sure you include opt-in rates. Test different offers to see where you can get higher opt-in rates. Start building up your engaged segments now so that when the time comes, your engaged segments are large enough to help increase your open rates.

Collab, collab, collab!

During the holiday most buyers love a good collab! This year, figure out your partners and start planning towards increasing your sales through this medium. By supporting and coming together with alike or even complete opposite companies your customers will see how inclusive your business really is.

Meet with other small businesses & discuss your goals, brainstorm ideas to make them happen, and ensure accountability. Of course for this to successfully happen, you’d have to start planning much earlier than you usually do. Never take lightly how important this holiday is for online stores.

Keep in mind, monitoring your data is a continuous process. Aside from your employees, your customers are the most important people to your business. There’s nothing more important to your success this holiday than understanding them and their needs.

Prepare for lots of incoming traffic

Holiday shopping = increased traffic for your online store, especially during peak shopping days.

One way to successfully plan your online stores for the holidays is to make sure your inventory is stocked. Increased shoppers means increased inventory needs. To avoid long wait times and frustrated customers finding out their must-have gift is out of stock, check in with suppliers now to make sure you’re appropriately stocked, especially for likely gift items.

During the entire BFCM period and the holiday season of 2020 , online traffic and spending per type of device reached the below figures:

Desktop: 37% of traffic, 59% of revenue

Mobile: 58% of traffic, 36% of revenue

Tablet: 5% of traffic, 5% of revenue

It’s only going up from there. We encourage you to work on speed and security. Your site needs to have the scalability and stability to handle increased demands during this peak season. Make sure your site is up when you need it despite increased levels of traffic.

Evaluating your third-party integrations will have your online store fully prepared for this year’s holiday season. Take a look at your third-party integrations and make sure they’re up to date. Run some tests to ensure they can handle the load and then don’t add any others. Additional or last minute app add-ons can break aspects of your flow or slow down your site.

The 2021 holiday shopping season is going to pose unique challenges for online merchants especially with continued supply chain and distribution disruptions.

If 2021 has taught us anything, it’s how important it is to adapt, managing customer expectations, and creating fail-safe systems around our marketing and business operations.

And sure, these obstacles have presented challenges for you, but they haven’t stopped consumers from shipping. There’s no doubt that eCommerce will continue to grow and take up bigger pieces of the shopping pie. Now is the time to invest in your eCommerce business & ensure your online store is top-tier for every customer to come on and have a smooth shopping experience.

Leverage your social media

Just as your website is the front door to your brand, social media is oftentimes the first or second location a customer will go to get information about you. To ensure your online store is prepared for the holiday season, cultivate your brand presence on social media.

How? By having posts designed for engagement and interaction from your target audience. You can also create special promotions just for your social media followers to incentivize them to pay attention to your social channels. Plan for holiday contests and giveaways.

For instance, on Instagram you could post giveaways leading up to the holidays. Have your audience comment, share and like! For any that don’t win, provide coupons for your best sales. Not only are you engaging customers and fostering a sense of community around your brand, but you’re also promoting specific products and deals you’ll be running during the holiday seasons.

Spread holiday cheer through promos and gifts

Creating a hassle-free customer experience is just another successful way to plan your online stores for this year’s holiday season!

Online shoppers live off of convenience. That means getting what they need easily and with as little friction as possible. Your site needs to provide options that are catered to their specific needs and a seamless path to checkout. Here’s some quick tools to use today…

Enable cart abandonment notifications

There are too many reasons to count why a customer may leave your website with a shopping cart full of items. Sending them a push notification will remind them of the products they left behind, with a goal of convincing them to make the purchase. Abandoned cart emails have excellent conversion rates as well. Studies have shown, they have a 10.7% conversion rate .

Give shoppers peace of mind with shipping insurance

By offering them shipping insurance, you can ensure they’ll get their order and have a great customer experience. Subscription customers have become customers because of the convenience and value that subscription products have brought to their lives.

Your promotions should take that value-add to the next level, providing them with options to upsell or cross-sell themselves. For new customers, offering a starter pack or even a way to sample your offerings in the first box for a discounted price with shipping insurance will entice your customers.

Small and limited

If you discount a best-seller, try to keep the discount fairly small and the quantities limited so you don’t dilute your brand and condition shoppers to expect discounts.

Offer gift cards and certificates

Leading right into offering gift cards, consider how you can merchandise and promote your products online to attract new customers that traditionally do their seasonal shopping in brick-and-mortar stores for the holiday season.

It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to make a purchase during the holidays, but competitive incentives help to sweeten the deal. The three most appealing offers to shoppers are :

Price discounts Free shipping Buy one get one free

With the above in mind, it’d be good if we gave some ideas on creative discounts & gift cards right? For all our product-based online stores, a sweet tactic for your new customers would be offering an option to “send a free box” upon checkout. Through this they can easily share their favorite brands with those that they love. This further helps your business with WOM.

Gift Cards are sweet!

Word of mouth is a great tool when used right! Adding gift cards to your loyal customers via email after they’ve purchased or even while they’re checking out can increase your website traffic as well. You want your prices to be at a good rate for your customers to buy but also to gain profit, and what better way than gift cards?

This holiday season, offer your ‘company’s top 3-themed gift cards’ for the best coffee in town or a great store that gives back to kids through donations just to name a couple. Have it implemented in your email marketing, a quick post on your social media, or even a text to all your loyal customers who’ve signed up to receive SMS from you.

Ever heard of bundling? Allowing your customers to build their own bundled discounts keeps your sales coming in! Look at items that typically sell well together-that could be anything from mix & match, to a planned holiday themed outfit.

Lastly, having an online store doesn’t only have to be on your website. With technology growing and more people willing to buy online, integrating your social media channels like Instagram & Facebook marketplace are wonderful ways to increase sales.

Ensure these discounts are slightly different from your website page’s type so your customers have some variety to choose from. This also offers some competitive prices solely in your company & an opportunity to leverage your different streams to your customers.

BONUS TIP

Start your discounts a week before the holiday sales on your social media outlets only and provide gift cards to each customer there to buy another limited product on your main page. See the increase in sales and in turn profit.

Optimize the customer experience

We can promise you that not one customer wants to have any issues with your site. It’s a hell every online store dreads ever being in.

A prominent way to prepare your online store for the holiday’s would be to create a customer service plan. Implement a dedicated support team behind your store that’s only focus is to care of your customers. The holidays are undoubtedly stressful at times, make sure your customer support team is prepared to handle any questions and concerns, and make information readily available.

Believe it or not, even when something goes wrong, a positive customer support experience can lead to a loyal customer. You should have dedicated support for phone, email, and social media — and be sure to respond to all inquiries within 24–48 hours.

Making your company’s contact information prominent and easy to find takes a major burden off any confused or frustrated customer. Adding the corresponding updated contact info to your website and all order confirmations can enhance a customer’s trust with your store. Creating an FAQ page that offers quick and easy answers can also build trust with new customers. Providing answers to common questions may also lighten the load on your customer service team.

The whole point of a customer service team is convenience, but this goes both ways. Your should only be of the most frequently asked questions, even if you think they’re self explanatory, you’d be surprised how many customers may be thinking them.

Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback from customers is imperative especially this holiday season with an increased amount of traffic online. Keep in mind, displaying reviews on product pages, and any landing pages can make or break a potential customer’s decision to buy from your site.

You can also incentivize your customers to leave a review with a special one-time discount or free shipping. In addition to helping you improve your products and services, feedback and reviews can help you broadcast trust to new customers.

For added peace of mind consider additional backup for your online store. A great backup solution makes it easy for you to experiment and change products around the holidays as necessary. This relieves some pressure from you, knowing you can always turn back the clock if something were to go wrong.

With an automatic backup, you’re prepared for disasters, big or small. As many have said before, time is money and downtime is expensive. But holiday downtime is even worse. A good backup solution decreases the risk of lost revenue, as you’re able to restore data and get up and running in minutes if something goes wrong!

Now is the time to build relationships with customers, new and existing, and to be nurturing all of the new customers who discovered your brand earlier this year. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of this moment!

Bonus tip: Customer service is key

We cannot stress this enough. The biggest way to successfully plan your online store for the holidays is by ensuring your customer service is top notch. And we’re talking top tier-top notch.

Make sure your eCommerce platform is available when you need it. We’re talking 24/7 global support, premium security features, and industry-leading uptime. Bookmark.com comes with all of this and more. Our experts can help you with anything related to selling online and growing your business, like boosting conversion & improving your shopping experience.

To tie things up

The holiday season doesn’t have to be a nightmare for your online store. Take into account how important it is to set clear goals & accurately measure them. Determining your number one goal for the holiday season will help you ensure that all strategies and tactics you put in place would direct you toward achieving that goal.

This holiday is unlike any others for online stores, so be prepared for the website traffic. This holiday season make sure your inventory is stocked. Increased shoppers means increased inventory needs and they will leave your site if you’re slacking in this area. Leverage your social media streams by having an increased presence before and during the holidays. Ensure your posts are designed for engagement and interaction from your target audience.

Remember, online shoppers live off of convenience. That means getting what they need easily and with as little friction as possible. Your site needs to provide options that are catered to their specific needs and a seamless path to checkout. Spread the holiday cheer by easing their minds with checking out smoothly. Don’t be afraid to offer gift cards, discounts and any other promos.

At the end of the day, your online business is your baby and this holiday is like their birthday almost! Get serious on your customer service and how best to provide a smooth transition for your customers.

Aside from your employees, your customers are the most important people to your business. There’s nothing more important to your success this holiday than understanding them and their needs. We at Bookmark want your business to thrive this holiday season. Reach out to our experts that offer all of the solutions to have a secure and amazing holiday season experience. Every eCommerce solution under one roof is right here at Bookmark.com . Check us next week for all things business and eCommerce tips.

Originally published at https://www.bookmark.com on November 30, 2021.

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