Last year, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend saw 139.4 million people shop online for the holidays. As small businesses get ready for the busy holiday season, owners must make sure their website is stocked with seasonal merchandise and ready to handle the onslaught of traffic. When retailers are caught unprepared, they will lose out as potential customers shop elsewhere.
Business Tips to Prepare Your Website for the Holiday Rush
By mid-November, an ecommerce site owner should have new landing pages, emails and ads finalized and ready to go. Retailers who are sending postcards, developing media or offering any special giveaways must have these materials ready to go too. All should check in with their website host to make sure that the site can handle a massive traffic increase. Some will need to pay more for additional bandwidth or website space, a cost that will be offset when shoppers can quickly and easily fill their carts. A Harris poll found that 44 percent of shoppers canceled their online purchase part-way through the checkout process over site delays and that 89 percent of adult U.S. shoppers exited an ecommerce store because the website was poor. Retailers must also focus on mobile websites, as 25 percent of holiday shopping traffic came from mobile devices in 2012. Make sure you have a host that can handle ecommerce demands.
Stock Up on Inventory
Without inventory, no retailer can meet holiday demands. Retailers who run out of inventory during the holiday season will lose out on present sales and can lose future business as well, if customers become dissatisfied with the brand. By keeping a careful eye on inventory and restocking before products run out, retailers can avoid delays that come from late-arriving products. Online retailers must also consider supplies, packaging and shipping. Failure to meet shipping deadlines can lead to late-arriving goods, which can cause customers to develop a negative association with the brand.
As retailers stock inventory, they must ensure that product pages tell the item’s full story. Video, zoom and 360-degree functionality help customers see more of the item, mirroring the brick and mortar retail experience. Compelling copy can sell the customer on the item and make the item attractive to media looking for holiday items to profile in gift guides. This can have a two-pronged effect on increasing sales.
Get a Share of Social Action
Retailers who promote holiday-centric products on social media will be rewarded with social shares. Holiday keywords — which naturally incorporate products plus words like Christmas, stocking, holiday and so on — help create share-worthy content. Retailers with specialty or niche products can additionally target their social content toward target markets. Shoppers delight in finding that perfect gift for their hard-to-shop-for family members and friends. By getting social presence right, retailers can broaden brand awareness and increase their ROI.
In addition to sharing content socially, retailers can encourage customers to share products. Incorporating Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest share buttons directly on product pages allows customers to easily click and share with their friends, increasing retailer reach.
Getting ready for the holidays is very time consuming, but ultimately worthwhile. Many of these improvements will boost sales year-round and help retailers build a stronger brand.
Amy Bishop works in marketing and digital strategy for a startup in Indianapolis. You can connect with Amy on Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.
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