It goes without saying that the holiday season is the busiest time of year for most retailers. Looking back over the past decade, online spending has gone up every single year topping out at $99.4 billion US dollars by the end of 2017. To be sure you get a piece of the pie, you have to get your store ready for the holidays.
Getting your store in shape for the holiday season comes with its own set of special considerations and should start in September or October. Don’t leave everything until the last minute!
To help you prepare for the influx of traffic and sales, we put together this complete holiday checklist for eCommerce. From your website to your packing materials, the list covers everything you need to do to get your store ready for the holidays.
Before we get started, go ahead and grab the printable version! Check off each item as you complete it and your store will be ready in no time.
How To Prep Your Website
Claim your free Shopify store audit and see exactly what you need to focus on with your website!
Does your site load quickly and without issues?
If customers have to wait for your site to load, they’re likely to click away and shop elsewhere. Don’t let them slip away with a slow website.
Is your site optimized for mobile?
More and more people shop on their phones or tablets. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re making it so they can’t shop with you.
Is your site easy to navigate?
Go through your site as if you were a customer or, better yet, have a friend do it. If they can’t find what they’re looking for and easily make it from homepage to checkout screen, you need to simplify things.
If you have holiday-specific merchandise, make sure it is in its own (featured) category.
Make it easy for visitors to find your Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or winter merchandise by putting it in one place. Don’t make them hunt for it!
Are your content & product descriptions SEO-friendly so customers can find you?
Make it easier for people to come across your site organically by optimizing it for search engines. It can take several months to see results from SEO so don’t wait until November to optimize.
Are your product photos the best they can be?
eCommerce merchants know good photos are key. If you’ve been meaning to update your product photos, now is the time!
Is your customer service and shipping info up to date and easy for customers to find?
Take time to review your policies (including return policies!) and shipping info with your entire team. Having everyone on the same page will save you, your employees, and your customers a lot of time and patience.
Make your last delivery date for Christmas clear and easy to find.
This is a big concern for lots of online shoppers so you want to put this information front and center.
Marketing for the Holiday Season
Analyze your traffic and sales data from past holiday seasons or, if this is your first, from the past few months.
Yep, one of the ways to get your store ready for the holidays is to look into the past. You’ll want to know where your traffic is coming from and what your most popular items are so you know which products to push and where to concentrate your advertising efforts.
Start building, or continue to build, your social media following.
A lot of people get inspiration from and/or find gifts via social media. Building a dedicated following costs nothing but could pay off in a big way year-round.
Look out for any social media influencer opportunities that would be a good fit for your business.
Reaching out to influencers is an easy way to extend your reach on social media. There are influencers in every niche and when you find the right one(s), it can be very effective.
Grow your email list.
Like building your social media following, growing your email list doesn’t cost a thing but will pay off in spades. Check out this post to learn how to get the most of your email list.
Create emails and set up any sequences or autoresponders.
Make sure that you create any new emails and update existing ones in your email marketing service. This includes autoresponders like cart abandonment (which is huge around the holidays), new subscriber, and post-purchase emails as well as promotional emails.
Plan any sales or specials you will have (don’t forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday!)
Decide what sales, specials, or promotions you’ll have so you can let people know about them via social media and email. Once you have everything planned, create graphics, social media content, and emails to promote those sales and build suspense throughout the month.
Plan any ads you’ll run.
If you’re going to run ads, plan out what you’ll be promoting, who you’ll be targeting, and when the ads will run. A well-planned ad will perform much better than one thrown together at the last minute!
Plan and create holiday blog content, if applicable (like gift guides!)
If your store has a blog, create your content ahead of time so that when the time comes, you can just hit “publish.” Gift guides are an extremely popular way to promote your products!
Take Stock of Your Products
Perform an inventory to make sure you have adequate stock and reorder products you’re low on.
There’s nothing worse than running out of a best seller around the holidays! Take inventory and order extra stock of your most popular products.
Make sure you have all shipping materials you’ll need.
Stock up on any packing materials you use ahead of time. Buying in bulk will save time, money, and your sanity!
Create a January sale plan for any leftover holiday stock.
What’s your plan to get rid of the holiday merch you have left over? After-holiday sales are a great way to move leftover products since many people like to use this opportunity to stock up for next year.
It's a lot of work to get your store ready for the holidays but it will pay off! And when you make buying gifts easy, people are more likely to come back year round.
And don’t forget to download BeSpark's printable Shopify holiday checklist!