There’s a chill in the air and a sense of excitement everywhere, shoppers flood the streets, and we all enjoy our favourite winter treats. The winter holidays bring about change, not least in the retail sector.
It’s the happiest time of the year. For many, the holiday season is a time to kick back and relax after a busy year. For retailers it can be the total opposite. As an online business owner, it’s important to understand how holidays affect eCommerce sales.
Holiday Shopping Figures
We recently saw the biggest year on record for holiday shopping, with sales figures surpassing $1 trillion for the first time.
Average daily sales for the holiday period totalled $2.3 billion. In addition, consumers indicated that they’d be more likely to shop online than in-person. 59% of those surveyed said they planned to do their shopping online, compared with just 36% saying they would head in-store.
With figures like these, the impact of the holidays on eCommerce sales is clear, and your eCommerce store can’t afford to miss out on the action.
So, how do you go about preparing?
Preparing for the Holiday Season
1. Make sure your website is up to speed
No-one likes a slow website. In fact, statistics show that consumers will leave your site if it takes too long to load.
For any website, there are a set of Core Web Vitals that you need to keep in check to keep customers happy. These are essential to monitor if you want your eCommerce site to be successful. This is particularly true during the holiday season.
To give an example, Google’s Core Web Vitals state that a page should take no longer than 2.5 seconds to load in order to be rated ‘good’. Any longer and the page needs some improvement.
The good news is, there are things you can do to optimize your site. If you run your webstore through WordPress, check out CreativeMinds guide to optimizing speed and performance.
2. Ensure you’re mobile ready
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, mobile is the way forward. Mobile device adoption hit 90% way, way back in 2014. So, if you haven’t got on board with mobile, the time is now.
We understand that not every small business is the position to make a mobile app overnight. At the very least, however, your website should be well designed for mobile – this means responsive images and a design that works well on mobile. If not, you risk turning over valuable customers to your competitors.
3. Organise your inventory
Online sales increase year on year. eCommerce stores should expect to see increased demand in line with this. Making the most of the holiday period means ensuring you have enough stock to keep up.
Not only do you need the right amount of stock, you also need to make sure your supply chain is in order. Should things go well and your store sells out, you’ll need to be able to re-order stock quickly.
4. Create a content calendar
A good marketing strategy is important for any eCommerce store, and content marketing comprises a huge portion of this.
Putting together a content calendar means planning ahead. While you might not want to think about Christmas in February, you’ll need to get your creative juices flowing ahead of time to come up with holiday themed blog ideas.
Think gift guides, listicles, craft ideas or anything else that pertains to your business sector. Make sure you have a steady flow of content across your blog and social media channels.
Nailing this early on means you’ll have time to think about the more immediate things – like re-stocking and dealing with enquiries – when the holiday season rolls around.
5. Decide on a discount
Let’s face it, the holiday season can be expensive. Between gifts and indulgent food, decorations and new party clothes, the cost can really rack up. In the midst of all that expense, giving your customers a discount or special offer can be a great holiday treat.
Whether you offer free shipping; a buy one get one free deal; or a promotional voucher for 10, 20, or 30 percent off, shoppers will thank you for it – and so will your sales figures!
If you use Magento, this useful extension makes offering holiday themed incentives a breeze.
6. Make adjustments to your returns policy
There’s no rulebook that says you have to keep the same rules all the time.
During the holiday season, shoppers can be hesitant to make online purchase for fear of the hassle of returning an item if it isn’t quite what they expected. In addition, the thought of returning a gift you don’t like can sometimes be overwhelming, leading to a closet full of items you’ll never use.
So, why not make it simpler for shoppers? You should thoroughly check your returns and exchanges policy before the holiday season. While you might know your policy like the back of your hand, it’s always a good idea to get a friend, family member, or colleague to check it too. This can help ensure that it’s simple and straightforward.
In addition to this, you could also consider lengthening the amount of time customers have to return their items during the holiday season. During the year’s busiest time, the standard 30 days isn’t always enough.
Making the Most of the Holiday eCommerce Sales
For the retail sector, the holiday season can be hectic. It can have a huge impact on eCommerce sales. We recommend planning for the holiday rush early in the year – you don’t want to be caught out when the time comes in November and December.
If you need help or advice on how to optimize your website and prepare for the holiday rush, contact CreativeMinds.