As the holiday season continues in full swing, Online Ecommerce Stores and retail businesses throughout the globe are experiencing what is probably the craziest, the busiest, and the most profitable period of the entire year. And if not, you’re doing something very wrong! This is the perfect time for customers to avail great offers and discounts, while you experience the benefits of greatly increased sales. So, it’s a win-win for both the seller as well as the customer!
The National Retail Federation mentions that small and mid-sized retailers conduct sales worth a third of their entire annual revenue in the last couple of months in the year. In 2019, the holiday season is expected to see sales worth around $682 billion. Capitalize on this opportunity by preparing your online ecommerce store for the holiday season. In case you haven’t already, there’s not a moment left to lose. Check out some simple yet important actions that enable you to make money during the holidays:
1. It’s All About the Planning
Planning isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Many business owners consider it a waste of time. However, if you wish to increase sales in the holiday season, you must come up with a foolproof game plan. Otherwise, you can easily lose track while juggling multiple roles at the same time – from customer service to marketing, shipping to managing the day-to-day aspect of your business.
The first thing you need to do is figure out the holidays you want to focus on. The months of November and December have quite a few. But if your online store is relatively new, it might not be a good idea to commit to every single one of them right now. Sticking to two or three of them will prevent you from being overwhelmed.
Next, mark the important dates on a calendar and launch promotions for your store. Make sure you notice the time and date for updating the banners and graphics on your site. Don’t forget to update the sales details as too. Pick the right time to launch social media and email marketing campaigns.
Remember, you will find plenty of free tools for creating the perfect promotional calendar. Tools like Google Calendar can work wonders for your business schedule. When you’re done with the process, a clear plan will emerge for coping with the demands of the holiday season.
2. Keep Your Inventory Organized
Consider how much stock you have and find out if you need to order more products from the suppliers. Use your analytics from the previous holiday season as a reference. Quickly find out the highly-requested items and the products you sold the most. Now, look at the present list of items in your store and try to guess how much extra stock you’ll need.
New stores should concentrate on their existing product lines. Take a look at social media to find out more about the current trends and determine which items will be popular in the next few months. The more informed you are, the better you know what to order from your suppliers.
3. Ensure Hassle-Free Shipping and Returns
When a customer buys a gift from your store, they expect it to be delivered on time. Failure to do so will not only decrease customer goodwill but you may even lose out on valuable sales. Thus, timing is extremely important and it’s a good idea to evaluate your existing shipping providers before the holidays. Think about how reliable they’ve been and whether you’ve receive any sort of complaints. Also, consider their performance during the previous holiday season.
Business owners who are happy with the services of their current providers must contact them and discuss expected delivery times for the last two months of the year. And if you have not been satisfied, now might be a good time to look for new options. Ensure that your site clearly displays the delivery timeframe and shipping options, especially during the checkout process. Also, if any new details emerge, update it during the holidays.
The returns policy is also something that you need to reconsider during the holidays. Start by extending the period during which customers are able to return orders. Why? Because this is when families buy gifts, and they require some more time to return unwanted or incorrectly sized items. Thus, updating your store’s returns policy is a good idea this season. Clearly mention the timeframe customers have to send products back along with who’s responsible for the shipping costs.
4. Extra Staff Will Come in Handy
Considering how busy you’ll be during the last two months of the year, it might be a good time to have some extra hands on deck for the holiday season, especially so if you’re just getting by with the number of people you currently have. The more staff you hire, the more you’ll be in a position to accommodate higher number of orders.
Small business owners who run the store by themselves will burn out if they try to do everything themselves during the holidays, so it’s best if they think about the aspects, they need help with. You can have someone on board for customer support and marketing. Also get a few people to help you out with the shipping process. Send out advertisements for additional help so that you have more staff by the time the holiday season rolls in.
5. Always Keep Your Website Up-to-Date
The holidays are not the time to revamp the design of your whole website. However, you should definitely review the pages to see if any minor improvements are possible. Product photography, for example, plays a huge role in convincing customers to purchase goods from your store. That’s because people remember 80 percent of visuals and only 20 percent of text. Thus, using a portion of your budget on quality product photography can yield positive results.
There are some other enhancements that add to your website, such as customer reviews and testimonials, product descriptions, displaying shipping details, displaying stock availability, and displaying “recommended” and “related” items. You should also consider adding a “save for later” or “wishlist” feature in your store. You can easily find third-party extensions for all these features, and they help you conduct smooth business during the holidays.
6. Marketing is Important for Online Ecommerce Stores
The holidays are incredibly hectic for most online stores, and it helps if you’ve got all your marketing sorted out for this period. For example, it’s a good idea to consider your ad spend on Google Adwords and Facebook, along with blog articles, media posts, email campaigns, and pop-ups. Take the time to plan out good content for all your channels.
Think about the graphics and copy that you require along with the timeframe necessary to put it all together. While this involves plenty of organization, you can find free tools to help you visualize your requirements and activities, and check off tasks as you complete them one-by-one. You will also come across certain online resources that help you pick the perfect graphics for your store’s holiday campaigns.
7. Always Test Your Store
Earlier, web pages used to take a long time to load. But nowadays, technology has made it possible for sites to open up in a matter of seconds, especially if you’ve created your online ecommerce store with the help of ecommerce website builders. And this is evident from the fact that 47 percent of consumers expect a certain website to fully load within two seconds. Even worse, if your site takes more than three seconds to open, there is a possibility that 40 percent of your visitors might abandon it.
That’s why it might be a good idea to scan your whole website using a web performance tool. There are plenty of these tools available online, and they allow you to find out which parts of your web store need improvements. You might have to update your template or theme, optimize your pictures, or clean up your existing database.
Plus, keep in mind that the greater the traffic to your website, the greater the sales. But disaster strikes when customers experience an error or the website goes down in the middle of a purchase. So, before the next holiday season, when and your website is expected to become exceedingly active, use a service like Locus that swarms your site with thousands of users at the same time to check the performance and efficiency of your server. Positive results mean you’ve got nothing to worry about. But if your website performs poorly, you might have to speak to the hosting company about more bandwidth or an upgraded hosting package.
The holiday season is not fun-and-games for online business owners. In the final two months, they can make the lion’s share of their annual profits if they make it a point to prepare their ecommerce store well in advance. So, they cannot neglect to create a list and check it twice. Any adjustments required for the website must be worked out and it should not hamper the daily business routine of the site in any way. By the time the holidays come around, a solid game plan in place will allow you to finish the year strong.