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Ecommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Being prepared for the holiday season isn’t just about optimizing your eCommerce website for the upcoming few months, but setting best practices to ensure year-round success.

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Are you ready for the busiest part of the year? If not – don’t worry! We put together this holiday eCommerce website checklist to help you prepare for the upcoming season.

 

Already got your holiday planning sorted out? This checklist is still worth a look as these seasonal best practices are also the recipe for year-round optimization and success!

Chapter 1

Preparation: Revisiting Last Year’s Data

Start early!

The major boom for online stores is known to start from November and go on for quite some time. Make sure your site is optimized to handle this, and take this opportunity to communicate upcoming products and promotions to customers who will want to return for more later.

 

In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, 61% of consumers started their holiday shopping by early November in 2021.

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Staffing

 

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Year over year holiday sales are growing big time, and you don’t want to get caught understaffed during the holiday season.

 

Use the data you collected the previous year as a guide and prepare to staff appropriately for the projected increase. But what about staffing for eCommerce – who’s going to process all of those orders?

 

Easy, you can use your WeSupply dashboard to analyze the average processing time and productivity of each shipping location to make sure each one is staffed according to workload.

 

Processing Time

 

As shopping behavior changes, each year finds a bigger portion of holiday sales coming through eCommerce platforms.

 

Make sure you’re prepared to delight your online customers this season by taking the time beforehand to analyze your actual processing time per location as well as the performance of your carrier partner.

 

Doing so will ensure that you can fulfill those especially crucial delivery promises that can make or break their experience with your eCommerce store.

 

By getting ahead of last year’s problems – late deliveries, theft, mishaps, etc. – you’re one step closer to being ready!

 

Successful Products & Promotions

 

When planning holiday promotions and inventory, it’s important to look at the previous year. Make use of your marketing channels, eCommerce checklists, analytics tools, or any essential apps to understand your audience’s behavior.

 

Use this as a starting point to see what worked or didn’t work for you, and compare the data with the current market.

 

Customers are willing to spend money on your eCommerce website, but you need to be competitive to get more sales!

 

“In 2021, retail eCommerce sales in the US reached 660,497 million US dollars, and in the US alone, eCommerce sales are expected to surpass $740 billion by 2023.” – Statista

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Chapter 2

Behind the Scenes: The Right Tech to Power Your Holiday

 

Customer Satisfaction

 

Focus on making customers happy! If you’re not sure where you stand in that regard, it’s time to start sending the CSAT survey after your transactions. You can even include links to customer feedback surveys directly on the checkout page, contact page, or add them to your post-purchase emails.

 

Optimized Servers

 

Your server is good-to-go for regular day-to-day traffic, but is it prepared for those big holiday spikes? Don’t lose your opportunity to convert all those customers due to server issues, because once your eCommerce site goes down they probably won’t be coming back.

 

Damage Control

 

Online shoppers have more options today than ever before, so their threshold in dealing with faulty, slow loading, or downed websites is at an all-time low.

 

What can you do to keep customers engaged with you through these tough times? Be sure to authentically empathize with them, avoiding generic phrases and opting instead for a little personality, and consider taking advantage of branded content to improve their customer relationships.

 

Fraud Filters

 

Finding a balance for your fraud protection is crucial before the holiday season kicks off.

 

While an aggressive fraud filter will save you big time on chargeback fees, an overzealous approach can result in the rejection of legitimate transactions (1.5%), so make sure you look into fraud prevention solutions!

 

Chapter 3

Sales Drivers

 

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Promotions

 

The numbers are promising, but the competition for those dollars is fierce.

 

For most brands, this is the time to get promotional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and vary the types of promos you run!

 

  • % or $ Discount
  • Kick Back
  • Mystery Box
  • Gift with Purchase

 

Gift Wrapping

 

Giving customers the option to select a gift wrapping add-on as part of the checkout process has been a tried and true holiday tactic for years now.

Get creative in how you present it; you can use an automatically updating header that changes with the customer’s cart value, a popup after the item is added to the cart, or by an add-on in the cart.

Chapter 4

Marketing Strategy For Success

 

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Start Marketing Early!

 

While most customers are still in the research stage during the month of October, it’s a good idea to have your site up and running optimally beforehand to take advantage of early-bird shoppers.

 

Think ahead and come up with an effective marketing plan and marketing campaigns to create a unified experience for your shoppers. From email marketing to user-generated content, take advantage of any available tools for better results!

 

Customer Retention

 

Your customers are paying attention to the deals that you’re offering during the season, but how can you increase the odds that they’ll convert when there’s so much other noise to compete with?

 

Go out of your way to tell them about a special deal or value they’re getting due to their loyalty.

 

Once they can confirm this through research they’ll feel like they’re being treated in an elite, personalized way, and will be more likely to purchase.

 

Educate Customers

 

As more and more customers plan their holiday shopping in advance, it’s a big opportunity for you to get ahead of the season and educate them on your upcoming products. Offer them product details and turn your blog page into a valuable resource for your customers.

Chapter 5

Product Pages: Optimizing the Pre-Purchase

 

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday SeasonCreate Urgency Through Holiday Deadlines

 

Appeal to last-minute shoppers by letting them know they can still get their items in time! Creating a sense of urgency is an amazing tactic to drive conversion, especially when there’s a specific date deadline.

 

Clearly letting customers know that their order will arrive before Christmas if placed within a certain time frame will prompt them to act fast.

 

 

 

 

Rich Product Descriptions

 

Product descriptions work alongside images to paint your items in the best light possible for customers, you make sure you:

 

  • Define your buyer personas
  • Use features and benefits to motivate purchases
  • Optimize for Search Engine Optimization

As part of our eCommerce checklist, it is important to note how essential eCommerce SEO is for your online business. Make sure you use relevant keywords that help search engines push your website closer to the top results to reach your audience as effectively as possible!

 

Delivery Date Estimates

 

Estimated delivery dates sit at the center of a well-put-together pre-purchase experience. They mitigate potential shipping anxiety by setting correct expectations from the start, and this is especially important during the holiday season where arrival dates mean everything.

 

Personalization 

 

Modern-day online shoppers want a tailored experience. The best time for this re-engagement is during the post-purchase stage, as this is when customers are most eager to hear from you.

 

Use your transactional emails and SMS messages to link to a fully branded tracking page.

 

Reviews

 

When in doubt, eCommerce customers look to their peers to help them make a decision. Make sure your product page is optimized for conversion by adding user-generated reviews. These play a major role in influencing purchases because they build trust and mitigate anxiety.

 

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

 

Q&A Section 

 

Q&A’s are particularly helpful for new customers who may not be very knowledgeable about your brand or products. Moreover, adding a FAQ page can help reduce the weight of your customer support team.

 

Because of their inexperience, customers are extra wary of potential post-purchase dissonance. This way, you can encourage customers to further interact with your e-commerce site.

 

User-Generated Content

 

User-generated content speaks volumes to your customer base, and most eCommerce platforms are still not tapping into its full potential. As part of your marketing plan, make sure you add user-generated content to your eCommerce website.

 

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

 

Notify Customers When Items are Back in Stock on Your Online Store

 

Oftentimes an out-of-stock situation is the end of the road as far as the potential to make a sale. You can combat this by recapturing sales through the utilization of back-in-stock email alerts.

 

Offering this option also succeeds in ending the interaction with an event so customers don’t feel as though they’ve wasted their time.

 

No more “Out of Stock”

 

“Out of stock” is a real UX dead end that doesn’t let customers go any further on a site if they are truly set on purchasing a particular item.

 

Many retailers are wising up, opting instead to make the product available for purchase while adjusting the estimated delivery date to reflect the gap in availability.

Chapter 6

Returns Returns Returns!

 

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday SeasonMarket as Free or Easy


Free returns are the ultimate conversion booster because they mitigate the risk factor for post-purchase dissonance.


The customer knows they won’t have to live with the regret of a bad purchase if they can simply ship the item back and wipe the slate clean.

 

Avoid Policies That Block Sales


We know, we know – no retailer wants returns.


However, making the process harder for customers is actually doing your brand a disservice. Many modern-day online shoppers won’t even risk making a purchase if the returns policy looks too strict or complicated.


Instead of viewing returns as a bad thing, it’s better to accept them as a part of the eCommerce experience and use them to your advantage.


An effortless policy can increase conversion by mitigating the anxiety around post-purchase dissonance.

 

Add to Terms & Conditions on Your eCommerce Platform


You need to put the returns policy in an easy-to-find place for your customers.


Tucking it away in a seldom-visited section of your site will oftentimes stop your chance at converting a customer before it even gets off the ground.

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

 

Extend Return Dates Post-Holiday in Your eCommerce Store

 

Buying gifts for a lot of people is stressful enough without having to worry whether or not each individual recipient will be able to return or exchange the items they don’t love.

 

Ease these pre-purchase anxieties with a relaxed or extended return policy through the holiday season!

 

Store Returns From eCommerce Website

 

By giving BORIS (Buy Online Return In Store) equal representation as mail-back returns, you gain an advantage over your competitors in the eCommerce business.

 

Many customers prefer this method of return because it; allows them to ask questions about the policy, offers a quicker refund, saves on return shipping, and is simply more convenient.

 

Self-Service For Convenience

 

When it comes to returns it’s not always about the end result, but about the effort it takes to get there. Most customers want to solve problems on their own without wasting valuable time on the phone with customer service representatives.

 

By offering a self-service returns flow you empower customers with the ability to efficiently handle their issues and reduce unnecessary friction points.

 

Self-Service For Cost Savings

 

Returns are a necessary part of eCommerce businesses, but they don’t have to eat into your bottom line. Make sure your returns flow is optimized to preserve your margin before the influx of holiday orders hits.

 

Label in Box: Yes or No?

 

Putting pre-paid labels in the box is a hot subject among eCommerce analysts. Many eCommerce platforms still use pre-paid labels, however, there are alternative solutions.

 

Employing a self-service returns flow that can be initiated by customers through a “my account page” solves all of these issues but there’s a catch – it has to feel just as easy for the customer.

 

Gift Returns

 

In a perfect world, every gift we pick out would be a hit. Sadly the data shows that this usually isn’t the case. Making a gift return for an online purchase can often be a nightmare, especially when the recipient doesn’t have access to the gift-givers account.

 

Simplify the process for gifted customers by allowing them to make a return without needing to involve the original purchaser. Let them initiate their return after asking for their order number, email, and zip – information they’ll readily have available.

 

Deloitte predicted that eCommerce sales will grow by 11-15%, year-over-year, during the 2021-2022 holiday season, reaching between $210 billion and $218 billion.

 

Reduce Friction

 

In order to navigate the competitive landscape of eCommerce during the holiday season, you have to give customers what they want. In most shoppers, this want is to feel at ease. How can you give this to them? Easy – with a flexible, effortless returns policy. You can even reduce shipping costs and improve customer satisfaction.

 

Knowing they can easily make a return helps customers trust your brand by mitigating pre-purchase anxiety and potential post-purchase dissonance.

 

“82% of consumers consider the returns policy to be important when making an online purchase.” – Accenture

Chapter 7

Proactive Notifications: Mitigating Anxiety & Delays

 

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday SeasonOpting into SMS Notifications

Are you communicating with your customers through their preferred channels? For most consumers, this is SMS notifications, as illustrated by their immaculate open rate.

 

For best results make sure to give customers the choice of opting into these transactional text messages immediately after placing an order as well as keeping the option available on their order detail page.

 

See here what are the top 5 eCommerce holiday concerns (e.g., shipping and fulfillment) and how to effortlessly deal with them!

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

 

Order Confirmation Email 

 

Order confirmation emails are so effective because this is when your customers want to hear from you the most.

 

Make sure you’re sending one out as soon as the customer places an order to build their trust and mitigate any potential buyer’s remorse.

 

Order confirmation is the building block of a strong post-purchase transactional email strategy that offers unbeatable ROI and re-engagement possibilities – just in time for all of those new holiday season customers!

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Source: Omnisend.com

 

Shipping Confirmation Email

 

From the moment the order is placed, this is what the customer is patiently waiting for. Luckily, you can improve the entire shipping process.

 

Make the most out of your shipping confirmation email by including access to two very important pages. Order Detail Page: Include all relevant item and shipping information, including if the shipment was split into multiple packages. Tracking Page: Not only is this a big opportunity for you to keep customers in the loop, but also re-engage them with branded imagery and shoppable banners.”

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

 

Delivery Delays

 

As the holiday season sees an increase in 2 Day shipments there comes a boost in shipping delays.

 

These can come in all shapes and sizes; bad weather, logistical issues, wrong address, missing delivery instructions, and the list goes on and on.

 

Aside from an impending late arrival, there’s another commonality between all of these situations – what you can do to mitigate them! Delivery updates through email and SMS notifications keep customers one step ahead of the process at all times, so they can redirect packages, change instructions, and much more.

 

Even though these issues are large with the carrier, customers won’t forget that you played a part in helping them sort it out and didn’t leave them hanging out to dry.

 

Stopping Theft

 

Better safe than sorry: move past site security and avoid package theft. As you prepare to increase your volume of shipped packages this holiday season, make sure you’re ready for the uptick in stolen packages as well.

 

Instead of waiting for issues to arise, you can help mitigate them before they happen through proactive notifications.

 

By sending customers an email and SMS notification when their package is delivered it reduces the time it sits on the front step.

 

Customers can quickly get their package inside and away from potential thieves!

eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season
eCommerce Checklist for the Holiday Season

Our Conclusions

 

When it comes to an eCommerce checklist for the holiday season, it is necessary to understand the needs of your online store before proceeding with any decision.

 

To effectively reach potential customers, online store owners need to take into consideration everything from marketing and pre-purchase processes to post-purchase campaigns. This includes delivery notifications, shipping costs, payment process, returns, and remarketing, all helping eCommerce websites to ultimately drive sales.

 

If you want to learn more about holiday season best practices and statistics for eCommerce sites, make sure you get your free e-book today!

 

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