Holiday Ideas & Strategies

Here Come the Holidays: Prepping Your Ecommerce Store for 2020

Holly Phillips / 21 min read
Ecommerce Holiday Readiness

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This year has been unlike any other, and as the holiday shopping season approaches, many are wondering what it will look like.

During the spring and summer, COVID-19 forced many businesses to close temporarily, while other major retailers — including J.Crew and Neiman Marcus — filed bankruptcy. A majority of companies found ways to pivot and offer online shopping options as a way to survive during lockdowns. In-person services such as gyms and yoga studios went virtual, while travel-related businesses including rental cards and airlines, suffered in sales.

On the other hand, some companies saw a boom during the pandemic. With consumers spending more time at home, video game companies and businesses supporting at-home workouts saw a spike in purchases. Peloton saw a 66% growth in revenue from its in-home bike and treadmill sales.

Grocery delivery and takeout options also saw tremendous growth this year.

After such an unprecedented year, many consumers and retailers are looking to the holiday season knowing that traditional Black Friday shopping isn’t a reality. Instead, stores are focusing on ecommerce sales, which are expected to increase during the final quarter of the year.

As many as 61% of retailers are expecting more engagement and sales through social media and businesses are ramping up their holiday marketing plans because of it.

So, how can you properly prepare for a holiday shopping season with ecommerce right at the center? Our Ecommerce Holiday Checklist is a great place to start.

2020 Ecommerce Holiday Checklist

Each year, retailers rely on the holiday season to make a heavy portion of their annual revenue. This year has brought forth many changes in consumer shopping habits, but businesses can still expect a boom in holiday shopping. It’s not too early to start preparing, as you’ll want to create a seamless experience for customers that will keep them loyal. Let’s work our way through a checklist to ensure we don’t miss anything: 

  1. Ensure customers will have the best user experience.
  2. Automate selling, shipping and fulfillment.
  3. Create strategic holiday marketing and promotions.
  4. Ramp up customer service and support for holiday traffic.
  5. Measure the success of your holiday campaign.

Ensure Customers will Have the Best User Experience

Today’s consumer craves a personalized experience when they shop online. Is your site ready to deliver? To have a successful holiday season, your ecommerce store should have a solid infrastructure, industry-leading uptime, and updated third-party integrations.

Let’s take a look at some of the crucial ways you can update your site to meet — and exceed — customer expectations before the holiday season:

1. Evaluate the overall store experience.

Use your website design to bring your brand to life and create a custom experience.

Building a personalized shopping experience for all of your customers means that if you’re having a holiday sale on different products, you should cross-sell and upsell products that directly complement the sale for visiting customers.

Product recommendations that speak to the consumer as an individual shopper can have a lasting impact. By using vital consumer data points that are specific to individual customers (such as search, shopping cart, and purchase histories), you can boost sales during the holiday seasons and help raise your overall conversion rate.

Test your infrastructure. Your ecommerce store needs to be able to handle a surge in traffic and transactions. Do a round of load testing to ensure servers can handle increases in traffic and transactions. Reach out to your technology provider like BigCommerce. These companies can help you perform load testing to determine visit numbers and traffic patterns.

Check your site speed. Your page load time should be under three seconds — any longer than that and you’ll be looking at very high bounce rates. If your load speed isn’t optimal, a tool such as GTmetrix will provide you with a detailed list of recommendations on what to change, such as optimizing your image sizes for the web or reducing redirects. Having too many plugins and apps that need to load can also slow down your site speed.

Evaluate your third-party integrations. Take a look at your third-party integrations. Are they up-to-date? Test them, make sure 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. This is exactly what happened to GymShark in 2015 when an app integration caused their site to go down for eight hours straight on Black Friday. Unless something is broken, put a “code freeze” in place a few weeks before Thanksgiving.

Enable cart abandonment notifications. There are many reasons a customer might 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. These notifications have double and sometimes triple the click-through-rate of a targeted email. 

2. Update your merchandising strategy.

This holiday season, many consumers will be shopping online. This means retailers face massive competition for consumer attention.

Typically, mobile bounce rates are higher and with more consumers turning to their phones to make purchases, a business’ mobile experience is vital. In fact, consumers give just 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about a site and 38% of them will stop engaging if the content or the design is unattractive. 

The key to succeeding is personalized merchandising: analyzing each user’s unique shopping behavior to deliver content and product recommendations that are relevant to them.

During the holiday season, if retailers don’t have something relevant to show shoppers right away, they risk losing a sale — particularly on mobile devices, where screen real estate is limited.

Capture consumers’ immediate attention with a robust online merchandising strategy. Follow these online merchandising strategy best practices to make holiday magic this season.

Showcase your holiday products. Start by determining which products you’re going to sell this holiday season. Are there specific holiday bundles your target audience has been wanting? What about seasonal favorites? 

Next, consider how you’ll display these seasonal items on your site. For example, you could have a holiday-specific category in your site navigation. Make shopping easy by organizing gifts in one place. 

Personalize your customers’ experiences. Content is still king, although personalization is the crowning glory. By analyzing behavioral and contextual customer data, as well as business-related data like margin and inventory, merchants can surface relevant products to inspire customers and encourage them to make a purchase.

Basing product recommendations on customer data — such as geo-location or demographic — leads to a significant increase in conversion rates and a decrease in cart abandonment.

For example, say a particular toy is trending in New York City. Parents of a certain age that live in the city can be targeted with content related to that must-have toy, which simultaneously removes an entire step (searching for the toy) in their buying journey and leads them deeper into the site (and closer to checkout).

Retailers can also use insights from previous browsing history to surface relevant content to shoppers, perhaps reminding them of the perfect gift they browsed last time they visited or showcasing something related to a previous purchase.

By understanding the landscape of gifting during the holidays, as well as the context and behavior of each customer, retailers can build entire stories simply by guiding site visitors through relevant product recommendations.

If telling an intricate, multi-page story with personalized product recommendations isn’t in the cards this year, then retailers should at least start with location-based gift recommendations on each category page.

Tune site search for each customer. The same search data you’re using for SEO can give you a boost with your on-site search. Make sure your website’s search results return accurate products to help your customers find exactly what they’re looking for.

Not only will a customer get to the item faster, but a seamless shopping experience will not go unnoticed. Customers are loyal to brands that make shopping easier, especially during the holidays. If they run into problems and can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll find it somewhere else.

The great thing about updating your own search is that you’ve got complete control over the keywords, pages and results. Use it to your advantage while creating a frictionless experience for holiday shoppers.

Evaluate your site’s error tolerance. You know those ‘did you mean…’ messages that pop up above the search box when you make a spelling error? This is a form of error tolerance. In a nutshell — the search engine recognizes that you made a mistake and attempts to fix it for you.

Until recently, all the possible errors and their corrections had to be pre-programmed into a search engine’s list of possible results. Smarter site engines use the search data they collect on a continuous basis to work out what customers meant, even when they make a spelling or grammatical error.

And it works.

Digital equipment supplier Xpres struggled with their website’s restrictive built-in search functionality. Search results were often incorrect, and some products were undiscoverable. Klevu’s search engine brought them the level of precision their customers needed to find their products, and they saw a 19.8% increase in revenue after switching.

Despite this leap forward and the real-world benefits to companies like Xpres, the vast majority of websites are still using the old technology.

Create a visual search interface. Search results should be displayed visually in the search box itself, even as autocomplete options while you type. Instead of a drop down menu to house your search filters, they are displayed as categories in an open sidebar. All of these visual and predictive features combine to make something that Klevu calls ‘Smart Category Navigation.’

Like error tolerance, it helps reduce friction to the checkout. But it goes much further, too — offering an intuitive interface that customers, once they’ve used it, won’t ever want to be without.

3. Optimize the checkout page.

By the time a customer reaches the checkout page, they’ve already decided they want to make a purchase. Optimizing your checkout page means making the process as smooth as possible, so the customer doesn’t leave before completing the purchase.

Create a seamless checkout experience by only having one checkout page, enabling guest checkout, and offering several payment options.

Simplify checkout to one page. Having all of your checkout-related forms on a single page makes the process easier and quicker for customers. Loading a single page vs. waiting for multiple pages to load — especially on a mobile device — can be a game changer. Don’t give customers time to leave your site. All of these factors boil down to one: customer satisfaction. A single checkout page adds to the overall user experience of your site and you want people to walk away feeling satisfied with all of it.

Enable guest checkout. Anonymous checkouts are especially important for first-time customers. Online shopping requires trust in the merchant, and many customers don’t feel comfortable saving their contact information during their initial visit to a store.

Requiring a registration also interrupts the shopping process. Once customers decide to buy, they want the checkout process to be easy – which should be the aim of merchants as well. Checking out as a guest is often quicker than creating an account, is viewed as a lesser “commitment,” and erases the potential perception that you’re after user data.

Offer several payment options. When a customer is ready to enter their payment information, the last thing they want to see is that you don’t provide their payment method of choice. Consider offering more payment options such as PayPal/Venmo or American Express. Providing as many secure payment options as possible is convenient for the customer and they’ll appreciate being able to pay however they wish.

Enable multi-recipient functionality. Instead of having your customers place a plethora of orders for holiday gifts, enable multi-recipient functionality to remove unnecessary stress during the busy holiday season. This functionality allows customers to send specific items to other addresses, making your store a one-stop shop.

“Often we’ll have one customer — usually ordering for a corporate gifting program — who wants to send gifts to a thousand different recipients, literally. Instead of placing a thousand unique orders, it’s a better customer experience if we can simply route different items to individual addresses.” – Lauren Cevallos, Ecommerce and Mail Order Manager, Lammes Candies.

Selling, Shipping and Fulfillment

To execute on a great customer experience strategy, you’ll need a clear plan on where to sell your products and how to ship and fulfill orders.

1. Expand your sales channels.

Your ecommerce store isn’t the only place to spread holiday cheer. Consider other sales channels such as:

  • Online marketplaces.
  • Social commerce.
  • Brick-and-mortar shops.
  • Cross-border.

Treat other digital sales destinations the same as you would your own ecommerce site and ensure the customer experience is as smooth as possible.

If you’re selling in a brick-and-mortar, offering the option to buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) will be vital. BOPIS is a great option for shoppers who prefer to browse online, but also want the items in their possession on the same day.

This method allows retailers to blend the online and in-store experience to engage with customers while still offering a more convenient way to shop.

In fact, according to a recent study by Adobe:

  • BOPIS increased by 195% YOY in May due to the pandemic.
  • BOPIS is becoming the delivery method of choice for consumers. 
  • Shopping trends adopted during the pandemic are likely to become permanent. 

This holiday season, retailers can enable BOPIS to eliminate the pains of shipping and processing while delivering a convenient and safe shopping experience.

2. Sell to your international customers.

Going global with your business may sound intimidating, but it should be a good chunk of your strategy as you’re looking toward the holiday season.

Of course, it is the busiest selling period of the year so you’ll want to make certain steps during this critical planning period to ensure everything works correctly and you avoid any large-scale disasters come the holidays.

Know that selling internationally isn’t just for larger brands. Businesses of all sizes can plan to go global for the holidays as long as they use the right methods and plan effectively.

Start by researching your markets. Before taking your products international, you will need a better understanding of the taxes, customs, duties, and any other requirements of the countries you are looking to sell in. This will ensure you position your business and your products more effectively and keep your customers informed of any charges they may incur on their end.

Your customers and their purchasing habits should also be a key part of your research and planning. Just because you have a clear understanding of your buyer personas and sales trends in your current market, doesn’t mean this will translate well in another country.

Using tools like PayPal’s PassPort Site will provide you with more information on global buying trends. Learn what products are in demand in your targeted sales region so you can make the best decisions when it comes to positioning your business on a global scale.

Test the markets early. Take a look at your current data and see where customers are already buying from. If specific countries are more popular than others, use this time to test those markets with your global selling strategy.

Look to expand your reach by investing a little more in these markets. You could start small by using other sales channels such as eBay and Amazon to gain a greater presence in new countries and test demand before committing fully.

Seeing how these geographies perform prior to the holiday season will give you a better indication of where you may want to invest more in the future, such as setting up a web presence specific to those locations.

Secure customers with payment method options. When selling globally, a huge portion of abandoned carts come from customers not being able to use their preferred payment method when shopping online.

Buyers want to feel secure and protected in making a purchase, which is why using a payment gateway they recognize can help to increase those conversions.

Consider using a payment method that already has a strong global reputation, such as PayPal. Already built into BigCommerce so it’s easy to set up, PayPal is used worldwide and is known for its security and purchase protection.

Remember, it is all about familiarity. Going global necessitates building trust, so doing what you can to make the buying process as familiar and native to specific markets as possible will increase your sales and improve your international presence.

Optimize your website. Optimizing your website can mean many things. From making sure to clearly display relevant shipping and delivery information per country, to installing a multi-language toggle for your website — you should be thinking about your customers all over the world and their experience of using your website.

You might also want to consider building a targeted website specific to a region. For example, you already have a U.S. site but find online shoppers from Germany have a particular interest in your products. How can you cater to this market more effectively? Setting up a website in a local domain name for the German market, along with currency conversion, text translation, and delivery costs all specific to the region, will provide you with more flexibility and provide your German customers with a better shopping experience.

It’s also important to recognize that different cultures may perceive images and content differently. Colors are a prime example of this. In South Africa, the color red can symbolize mourning whereas, in Chinese culture, red represents a celebration. Think about your promotional materials and how you can tailor your content to suit each sales region.

Showing your customers around the globe that you care about their purchases and strengthening your relationship with them will help you to increase their lifetime value.

Take your discounts international. The pandemic has pushed many consumers around the world to shop online and 85% of retailers believe online sales will see higher numbers than last year, as a result. 

When establishing your holiday promotions, think beyond the Black Friday and Cyber Monday mayhem. Change up your messaging by looking at the global promotional calendar, increasing your sales with international shoppers in the quiet space before your regular promotions begin.

Prime Day is scheduled to be delayed until at least October, which could make for a great time to offer discounts when consumers are looking for sales. This could also jump start the holiday shopping season around the globe.

3. Determine how you will carry out shipping and fulfillment.

During the holiday season, you’ll likely experience an increase in orders. To prepare for the
heightened traffic, you’ll need to determine how you will handle shipping. There are three
primary options:

  • Handle shipping and fulfillment in-house.
  • Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a third-party logistics provider (3PL).
  • Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a dropshipper.

Whichever path you follow, you’ll want to automate your shipping process. Shipping software gives
you access to one dashboard where you can compare rates, print labels, manage orders, print
shipping labels in bulk, and reconcile shipping bills. You can also set shipping rules to automatically
select the cheapest rate, fastest method, etc. To understand how sales tax affects your shipping cost, integrate a tax and accounting software like Avalara, Vertex, or Quickbooks to help determine where and when you need to charge tax.

With the right shipping strategy in place, you’ll be able to offer your shoppers a better shipping
experience, improving conversion and brand loyalty. BigCommerce offers partnerships and
integrations to help accomplish this, such as ShipBob, Shipstation, ShipperHQ, and FedEx
and global solutions like Route, EasyShip, Flavorcloud, or Global-e.

In-house shipping and fulfillment.

In-house shipping and fulfillment means you’re managing the inventory and the shipment for all of the orders. For many businesses, this method is convenient and works just fine. However, once the volume of orders reaches a certain point, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with managing all of the steps it takes to get items safely out the door.

Outsource shipping and fulfillment with third-party providers (3PL).

Working with a third-party provider (3PL) for shipping and fulfillment means that another company will take care of this part of your business for you. With a 3PL, you’ll be able to take advantage of bulk shipping discounts and advanced tracking technology. Utilizing a 3PL also means customers will receive their packages faster and if there’s any questions or issues regarding shipment, they can reach out to the 3PL. All of this frees up you and your team to focus on other aspects of the business that need your attention.

Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a dropshipper.

With dropshipping, products are sent directly from your wholesaler to your customers. Outsourcing shipping and fulfillment with a dropshipper cuts down on time and money spent shipping each item. Since products only leave the warehouse one time, there’s less costs involved and you don’t have to keep track of inventory, shipment or returns.

4. Create a memorable packaging and unboxing experience.

Ecommerce shops don’t just have a “brand,” they often have a deeply rooted story.

This story reminds shoppers why they aren’t buying the item from a discount store or a large marketplace, but are instead going directly to your website for your products. Yes, it is critical that you tell this story on your website, email communications, and social media channels, but there is no denying the power of physically seeing and reading a message to make it stick.

And, at a time of year when your customers are likely to come home to a myriad of generic large RSC boxes from mass marketplaces that contain more air than product, you can truly set your company apart with a thoughtful packaging experience that elevates your direct customer connection.

A simple printed name on your packaging can make all the different to a customer’s experience.Use your packaging to show your brand imagery, but also as a reminder of your resourcefulness and sustainability.

5. Have a clear return policy.

In some categories, such as apparel, up to 30% of online purchases are returned. And 96% of consumers will go back to companies who made returns and exchanges as seamless as possible.

Making returns painless not only strengthens customer loyalty, it also benefits your operations — fielding those return requests takes customer service a lot of time. How can you build the dream return process during the holiday season?

  • Use resealable mailers (mailers with a “dual peel and seal”) or add an extra poly mailer to each shipment.
  • Include instructions on how gift recipients can reuse the original shipping package for returns.
  • Consider adding a return label to each shipment that can be given to the gift recipient.
  • Include a short note that can be given to the recipient, detailing how to make a return or exchange.

If your return policy is too strict during the holiday seasons, you risk losing the sale.

The holidays are a time when you should be a little more flexible and provide convenience for your customers when it comes to returns — simply because things happen. Wrong sizes are ordered, a product is faulty, expectations weren’t met, etc.

The important thing for you to do is build trust by making sure your return policy is fully transparent and fair.

Also, have an extended return window around Christmastime (usually until the end of January) so consumers have time to return gifts. This will increase overall customer satisfaction and keep them coming back even after the holidays are over.

Create Strategic Holiday Marketing and Promotions

Whether it be new technologies or promotional strategies, merchants have had to adapt their stores to meet lots of unexpected changes this year in order to sell their products in the most efficient way.

This story will be no different when it comes to businesses preparing for the craziness of promotion and selling during the holiday season.

That’s why it’s important to make sure your store is fully optimized and ready with its campaigns and promotional strategies before big holiday spending periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Here are some key planning points on what you can do to make sure your store is fully optimized and equipped for the frenzy of holiday selling.

1. Adopt promotional strategies to engage customers.

Sometimes it’s essential to use the holiday seasons as a part of your marketing strategy to increase overall sales. This means that you should run sales that are specific to a certain holiday in order to increase festivity and enthusiasm among your consumers.

Consider using gift cards to upsell at checkout, offering seasonal services such as free gift-wrapping or shipping, or creating limited-time offers to add urgency.

The possibilities are bountiful when you consider your own brand and products and how you can bring in customers with promotions while simultaneously helping them celebrate the holiday season.

Consider free shipping and wrapping in your holiday marketing plan. Since Amazon has made free shipping a staple part of online sales, you can expect to drive more sales and conversions if you offer some sort of free shipping deal during the holidays.

Potential customers will most likely go through with a sale if free shipping is involved. This could mean you offer free shipping on orders over a certain price or maybe offer free shipping during a specific time period, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

If you’re lost, take a look at your competitors’ shipping plans and see how you can adjust your store to attract the most customers possible during the holiday seasons and boost your conversions.

Plan for holiday contests and giveaways. Enacting different contests and giveaways during the holidays is a great way to help you increase customer satisfaction and engagement while also boosting sales. This can be done directly on your store’s website, or you can utilize social media tools.

For instance, on Instagram you could post a picture of one of your products during Christmas, and run a contest for people who comment about their favorite part of the holiday in order to win that specific product.

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 might be running during the holiday seasons. This is why planning contests and giveaways before a certain holiday season starts will be an effective marketing strategy for your ecommerce store.

Have a rewards or loyalty program in place. Having a customer rewards or loyalty system in place that is tailored to your brand before the holidays might be a crucial step for you as a business owner.

By making an investment in your returning customers (and encouraging new customers to join), you’re adding extra consumer incentive and value to your store.

A good rewards program will be easy to use, have membership-only benefits, place higher value on your products, and increase member engagement and interaction. This is a good way to turn one-time holiday shoppers into lifelong customers.

If you’re searching for apps, Smile.io is a good place to start looking for your reward system service needs.

2. Integrate your marketing efforts.

Keeping a constant stream of content flowing is an essential part of planning a marketing strategy for the holidays.

This can be done with social media channels, blog posts, video content, etc. Any web search traffic directed to your business is good traffic. When your content is original, up-to-date, and relevant to the holiday season, chances are customers will be directed to your store and therefore boost your holiday sales.

For example, if you create a blog post on how to properly decorate for the holidays and feature a variety of your products, you have a higher chance of making a sale from customers visiting your blog. This example can be translated across many different brands, as long as the content is relevant to not only your brand but also the holiday/season you’re promoting.

Reach your customers on social media. Posting to your store’s Instagram story, making Facebook posts promoting deals and discounts, and tweeting a product campaign with a #hashtag slogan are just some of the various ways you can use social media during the holiday season.

This is where your brand needs to be unique and creative to garner the attention of consumers. Ensuring that your social media campaigns and marketing techniques are in place (before holidays like Christmas) will help you boost sales and get the word out about why shoppers should visit your store.

For instance, if you make sure that you are set up with Instagram’s feature, Instagram Checkout, you can start campaigning special discounts and deals way in advance of the holiday season, and utilize this feature by selling directly on the app.

Garner views with paid advertising. Organic traffic is valuable, but paid advertising can boost your brand in a saturated market. A quick place to begin is Facebook or Instagram Ads, since you can simply boost organic content. Where you’ll want to spend a little more time is search engine marketing and overall conversion rate optimization.

Organic SEO will help you rank on Google, but, similar to social media, a paid boost can garner
thousands of more views. Google Ads is key to any paid strategy as it can help drive both website
and in-store visits. If you have an omnichannel approach, investing in paid advertising can help
drive traffic across channels, too.

Send holiday emails. Sending promotional emails is a key and essential part of holiday campaigns. If you have specific holiday sales, discounts, or special offers — do not wait until the last minute to get those promotional emails out.

By capturing the attention of your customers beforehand, with the help of automated email features, you can get the word out early about any holiday promotions that will increase conversions when you need them most.

This also goes for email reminders about abandoned carts. Since consumers are shopping across multiple online stores during the holiday seasons, they might forget to check out at yours. A gentle reminder to your customers if their cart is abandoned will be a great way to boost your holiday sales.

Send holiday texts with SMS. When it comes to holiday, SMS provides a special opportunity to connect with your customers. Automated text messages bring a new level of personalization to virtual communication.

Many brands leverage SMS marketing to execute pre-built sequences and conversations specific
to cart abandonment, order and shipping confirmations, personalized rewards, limited-time
promotions and more.

BigCommerce partners such as dotdigital and Yotpo can help you facilitate 1:1 conversations with customers and view comprehensive analytics — down to a single message. 

Use SEO tactics to rank on Google. Everyone knows that earning top positioning with search engines through SEO can sometimes take months to achieve, depending on the keyword competitiveness.

So how can you quickly modify your SEO to capture holiday traffic in time for the winter months?

Getting a jump on your holiday SEO now is critical to make sure you capitalize on seasonal SEO opportunities. Not only can a great holiday SEO plan help reduce your dependency on PPC advertising, it can also help improve performance through other marketing channels.

Do a bit of keyword research to find out what gets the most interest in your vertical, and start optimizing pages for your base keywords plus these modifiers.

It’ll be more important than ever during the holidays to make sure that your landing pages are top notch — because these pages will most likely be redirected from content searches or direct links from emails or advertisements.

It’s a vital aspect of your store to have landing pages with designs and layouts that are appealing and easy to navigate. Elements such as the shopping cart and social buttons need to be visible and easily accessible so that holiday shoppers can browse once they’ve been redirected from a link.

If you’re worried that your store’s visual content needs updating, look into apps that will help you create landing pages and raise conversions well before the holiday season approaches.

Ramp up Your Customer Service and Support for Holiday Traffic

The holiday season is quickly approaching and, to be prepared for success, both your business and
your customers need adequate support.

1. Make sure your ecommerce platform provides 24/7 support.

The holiday nightmare: a crashed website on Cyber Week. After months of hard work, your
customers are disappointed and unable to make purchases. It’s often overlooked, but support for
your business is make or break for success.

Now is the time to make sure your ecommerce platform has 24/7 global support, premium security features, and industry-leading uptime.

BigCommerce comes with all of this and more. Our support team can help you with anything related to selling online and growing your business, like boosting conversion, improving your shopping experience, managing catalog transfers, and recommending solutions for taxes, payments, shipping and software integrations. We also stand out from the crowd with ongoing
content resources, like our product blog and BigCommerce blog, and our offering of growth and
launch services where you will work with a dedicated ecommerce expert.

2. Develop a robust customer service plan.

You’ve got a dedicated support team behind your store. Now, you must take care of your customers.
The holidays are undoubtedly a busy and sometimes stressful time. Be prepared to handle any
questions and concerns, and make information readily available.

Have dedicated support and respond to inquiries quickly. 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.

To enhance the customer experience further, consider adding chat support powered by solutions such as Drift or iAdvize.

Make your contact information prominent and easy to find.

Adding updated contact information 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.

Ask for feedback from customers.

“How was your experience today?” This is a simple question that brings a lot of value to your
business. Not only are you obtaining customer testimonials, but you will also learn a lot about how
you can improve as a business.

You can also incentivize your customers to leave a review with a special one-time discount or free shipping.

Measure the Success of Your Holiday Campaign

Once Cyber Week 2020 is in the books, the holidays still aren’t quite over. Now, it’s time to measure
the performance of your promotions and campaigns.

1. Have goals and KPIs for the holiday season.

Numbers don’t mean much until you translate them into insights. Measuring key performance
indicators (KPIs) can help you understand your overall performance.

BigCommerce merchants benefit from Ecommerce Analytics and Insight reports, directly in the platform, that provide a deeper look at customer data all in one easy-to-view dashboard, at no extra cost. Google Analytics is another great tool to integrate to further optimize your website. When it comes to KPIs, you’ll want to look at your ecommerce data and marketing success factors.

Measure ecommerce success. This group of data helps measure the performance of your website, customer journeys, and what content or products are performing best. Here are few KPIs to consider:

  • Sales
  • Average order value (AOV)
  • Conversion rate
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate
  • Traffic (new vs. returning)
  • Site speed
  • Bounce rate
  • Traffic source
  • Mobile site traffic
  • Day part monitoring
  • Product affinity

Measure marketing success. This group of data will help you understand how specific campaigns are performing. Consider these KPIs:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC)
  • Click-through-rate (CTR)
  • Subscriber growth rate
  • Email open rate
  • Social followers
  • Number and quality of product reviews
  • Banner or display advertising CTRs
  • Blog traffic
  • Affiliate performance
  • Average position (search)

2. Evaluate data and make adjustments.

Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary data, adjust your efforts accordingly. If you notice that customers are engaging more with certain advertisements, increase them. If a majority of your site traffic is coming from a single source, continue your efforts and make a plan for increasing traffic from other channels.

3. Use 2020 holiday data to guide your 2021 holiday strategy.

A new year sparks new resolutions and goals. Apply the same mindset to your business and take
the time to evaluate your annual growth. Take note of what worked, what didn’t, and
what you learned.

Taking a moment to reflect on your growth will confidently set you up for the future. Every year will
bring new challenges, but creating a future-proof strategy will help you build, innovate, and grow.

As you begin crafting your 2021 strategy, be sure to:

  • Set goals and objectives to hold your team accountable.
  • Identify areas of improvement and invest in the right solutions.
  • Continue to grow your business and engaged customer base with creative marketing.

Wrapping Up

This year, businesses and consumers are looking forward to the holiday season more than ever. Many shoppers will be looking for gifts to send to loved ones they haven’t seen all year, and business owners are hoping to make up for lost revenue during the year and start 2021 with a positive note. 

As you can see, preparing your business for the holiday shopping season during any year is no small task. This year, more people will be ordering online, and whether they’re picking up items in-store or having them shipped, it’s important for the experience to be smooth from start to finish. 

Once 2020 is behind us, many experts predict that the shopping trends adopted this year will be around for the long-term. In a way, prepping for the holiday season is a great way to set up your website and mobile elements for whatever the New Year brings your way. 

Take holiday readiness with a step-by-step approach, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to welcoming jolly shoppers with ease.

Want more insights like this?

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    Holly Phillips

    Holly Phillips

    Blogging Instructor and Digital Marketer

    Holly is a Blogging Instructor and a Digital Marketer in Austin, Texas. She specializes in content creation and strategy, and teaches Blogging for Beginners at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University.

    View all posts by Holly Phillips

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