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Well you did it. You survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday! You may feel a huge sense of relief that your site withheld all of the traffic, but it is not time to slow down yet! December is upon us and what does that mean? Holiday shopping! Regardless of what holiday one is shopping for, December has always been the one month of the year where all businesses see the largest sales increases. In eCommerce holiday sales alone, the sales projections are estimated to be approximately $98 billion in 2016. Wouldn’t you want a slice of that pie? I know I do. So how do you go about ensuring a slice? Well here are 7 important elements you should consider looking into if you want your website to be holiday ready!

1. Resolve, or Find, Any Recurring Issues Throughout your Site

These can include anything from cart abandonment issues, security issues, customer service issues, etc. There are different ways you can go about fixing or even finding all of the above, such as;

Be clear about shipping costs as well as total costs right at the beginning so that your customers aren’t surprised at checkout

Offer multiple delivery choices so that users can use their preferred method of payment

In some instances, it may not be best to insist on a customer creating an account to purchase as this may cause them to be a little weary and take their business elsewhere

Update your site’s security software

Test the checkout process multiple times to ensure that the process is simple and there are no issues influencing the user’s ability to purchase

Ensure that your search function is working properly so that customers can find what they are looking for without hassle

Have your company’s contact information, as well as specific department information (if applicable), so that customers can contact you quickly regarding an issue or question – this will help to increase customer satisfaction and eliminate chances of customer service issues arising

2. Maximize your Mobile Optimization

In today’s shopping world, it is a necessity to have a mobile friendly site where users are able to maneuver through and purchase any products using their mobile devices and have just as smooth of an experience as they would if they were on their desktop. In fact, mobile purchases alone made up 28% of all eCommerce sales last holiday season, and that number is expected to increase in 2016! Ways that you can ensure that your site is mobile friendly are;

Test to see if it is responsive across all devices – i.e., all items and categories are visible and easy to find regardless of screen size

If it is responsive, be sure to test whether or not the homepages and category pages aren’t too cluttered so that the consumer can easily navigate throughout the site and not be overwhelmed. One way to de-clutter your site could be to add more white space and margins to make it a bit more pleasing to the eye

Have the text be large enough for users to read on a smaller screen

3. Page Load Speed – Test!!!

I will be the first person to admit that patience is not a virtue that I possess, and that is true for so many consumers! In fact, researchers say that if the page does not load within 3 seconds, 57% of users will abandon the site. That number may seem a bit exaggerated to you, but when you think about it, page load speed is a huge factor that increases overall bounce rates. We live in a society where people are always moving so fast while simultaneously running out of time. Though it may seem outrageous, you have to adjust your site to meet these impatient consumers’ needs. So be sure to test the page load speed of your site as well as all of its category pages and across all devices. You never know, it could make a whole 57% difference in your conversation rates!

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4. Plan your Decor and Merchandising

Getting ready for the holidays can be as simple as getting into the holiday spirit. Just like during Halloween, it is nice to show your customers that you are a fun-loving brand by adjusting to the holiday season. You can connect with your customers through simple means such as adding holiday icons to your e-mail messages, having seasonal colours, music, or imagery throughout your site, or even take it one step further and have holiday-themed merchandise! This of course is only applicable for some businesses as it may not be feasible for certain companies to implement, but having a Christmas-themed Box-Of-The-Month, for example, is one of the ways where you can show that you are in the Christmas spirit with your subscribers. You may also want to take this opportunity to stock up on those products that are your company’s bread and butter. For instance, if you own a clothing and accessories line and boots happen to be your top-seller, particularly around this season, you should ensure that you have more inventory than usual to account for the holiday shopping.

5. Plan your Promotions

There’s no telling that the holiday season brings about immense opportunity for sales; this doesn’t mean, however, that no promotions or marketing tactics need to be employed. If anything, this is when your planning of promotions and marketing is crucial. Think about it, if all of your competitors decide to implement various holiday promotions and you choose not to, customers may draw a blind eye to them and overlook your website. So lay out a detailed marketing plan for this holiday season that includes all aspects; such as, your strategies, what deals and discounts you will provide for which clients, your mediums through which you will reach your target market or how many different platforms you want to use, your budget, etc. The more you plan, the more prepared you will be. When deciding where to position your efforts, you of course want to reach out to as many individuals as possible; with that said, however, it is important to remember that the previous buyers have a high probability of becoming repeat buyers and in doing so requires you to spend $0 in acquisition costs. So be sure to include past clients in all marketing efforts, and maybe even make an entire promotion strictly for them and tell them about it!

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6. Invest in your Advertising

Now that you have put all of this time and energy to plan out your promotions, it is time to tell people about them! Online advertising can be extremely expensive, especially if you are in a competitive market and want to stand out. If you do want to grab the largest slice of pie possible this holiday season, however, it may be worth spending more now, and reaping the benefits later on. Studies show that consumers who use search engines are more likely to convert throughout the holiday season compared to those who do not. Whether this means focusing your efforts on social media marketing, e-mail marketing, or pay-per-click promotions, it is key that you do invest some time in at least one, if not all, so that those individuals searching for you can actually find you amongst the many other businesses that are advertising to them.

7. Prepare for the Post-Holiday Rush

I know, you probably think I am crazy because I am already thinking about what happens after the holiday season is over. When you think about it, however, the days between Christmas and New Year’s, for example, can be just as profitable as those leading up to it. One of the easiest and convenient gifts that some people receive are either gift cards or money in general. So what does that mean? More opportunity for you! So focus your efforts on speaking to the holiday shoppers, but make sure to also include those who are wanting to spend their holiday gifts! A not so positive element to consider when preparing for the post-holiday season is returns. No matter who the person is or what the product is, sometimes people just aren’t 100% satisfied, but that doesn’t mean that the sale has to be completely over! You can create a strategy to deal with these returns in a streamlined way, such as encouraging customers to not purchase something that may be more suited to them and their needs, offering a gift card or store credit, etc. We are not saying to be pushy and refuse to accept a refund, but by having a strategical foundation in place and being prepared, you could offset the amount of returns and even turn them into additional sales!

So there you have it! There are 7 elements to consider when preparing for the holiday season! The holidays may be stressful for some, but take this time to enjoy it and take as much out of it as you can. After all, who wouldn’t want to go into 2017 with some leverage that they gained just from getting into the holiday spirit?

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