Fall is here! And while we won’t be getting out the holiday decorations just yet, we are definitely thinking about preparing our clients’ e-commerce stores for the holiday season. Now is the time to strategize, develop and optimize your Woocommerce or Shopify site before a big holiday push.

If last year was any indication, you should plan for an increase in traffic. According to Adobe Analytics, the 2020 holiday season increased by a whopping 32 percent from 2019. Good news for you … if you’re ready.

Wondering where to begin? We’ve got you.

Prepare for a Traffic Increase

There is a distinct link between site load times and revenue. And with so much competition for holiday dollars, a site outage during a high-traffic period is going to hurt the bottom line.

Make sure your inventory is stocked, check server host reliability and evaluate third-party integrations. Streamline and stabilize so your holiday push is the only increased demand on your site. Test every site element for load time.

Back up your store. Downtime is costly, and holiday downtime is downright expensive.

Create a Hassle-Free Customer Experience

Enhance your Shopify or Woocommerce storefront. Create a page that welcomes users to their holiday shopping experience and funnels them to a buy now button. Limit options, drive sales. A clean, easy to navigate and fast-loading site is your key to success. Prioritize the mobile experience: over 30% of all e-commerce spending takes place over mobile devices, and you want to make it easy for customers to buy on the go.

You’ll also want to enable shopping cart abandonment notifications. Emails targeting these convert well, so it’s a worthwhile step. Offer discounts and quick shipping/delivery options to encourage conversion.

During this time many purchases are gifts, which means returns are inevitable. Make the return experience painless (think gift receipts, returns in original packaging, preprinted labels), and it can markedly improve sales.

Merchandise for the Holiday

Creating a holiday-themed storefront isn’t enough. You need to merchandise your inventory to offer complimentary items, add ons, and recommendations to upsell and cross-sell.

By analyzing behavioral data, you can base product recommendations on your customer’s preferences, browsing/purchasing history and location among many other things. This leads to a significant increase in conversion rates and a decrease in cart abandonment.

Fine-tune site search. Promote top-selling products and categories at the top of your homepage. Try using holiday drop-down selections or categories like “gifts for women.” Catering to the targeted recipient is a great way to shuttle your customers along the purchase funnel.

Ensure a Seamless Checkout Experience

Keep your checkout to one page if possible. Don’t require a lengthy registration process (or one at all!). Enable guest checkout, and offer multiple payment options like Venmo and Apple Pay.

Another fantastic e-commerce enhancement to get your site holiday-ready is allowing multi-recipient functionality. This will enable users to select more gifts for more people with one easy checkout, just the kind of feature that keeps customers on your site.

Plan for last-minute shoppers (guilty!) with expedited shipping options and add ons like shipping insurance. This helps you avoid porch pirates making their way off with your customer’s gifts and their satisfaction.

Unleash the Marketing

Ensure your site is holiday-ready by November 1. Plan holiday contests and giveaways to help you increase customer engagement and boost sales. Use social media to keep your content stream strong and promote your contests and special offers. Product tags in your social posts create a virtual shopping experience within your customers’ Instagram feeds and incorporating blogs and videos into your site drives search traffic.

Launching a rewards program early in the season is a fantastic way to turn holiday shoppers into lifelong customers while also rewarding and incentivizing your current customers. It’s low-hanging fruit, take advantage of the easy wins.

Plan your email strategy with sales, discounts, and special offers, and get emails out early. Don’t neglect SMS as it is many customers’ preferred communication method. Use urgency and limited inventory hooks in your messaging.

Notch Up Customer Service and Support

To compete in this landscape, you’ve got to ensure your e-commerce platform has 24/7 global support. It’s worth the time, staffing, and training to get it right for the holidays. Even when something goes wrong, a positive customer support experience can lead to a loyal customer.

Create an FAQ page that offers quick, easy answers with links to forms or internal pages. Use chat and time-saving automations to avoid long phone hold times.

Solicit and encourage reviews, displaying them on product pages, landing pages and social. Show them off to improve the customer experience and build trust in their purchasing decisions.

Start Digital Ads NOW

Facebook ads and Google ads are your aces in the hole when it comes to driving holiday sales online. But you’ll miss out if you wait until Cyber Monday to start an ad campaign. It takes time for the ad platforms to find your audiences, and your marketing team (aka: Highforge) needs to test a variety of offers and creative to learn what will resonate with your future customers.

Start early in the fall with some test campaigns, so you’ll know what to ramp up and run with once we get into the holiday season. Video is still king when it comes to ad success, and our team can help you optimize your ads and drive traffic to the product pages that will really sell. Shopify and Woocommerce have excellent ad analytics built right in, which makes it really easy to analyze Facebook and Google ad results so you can focus your ad spend on what’s really working.

Now that you have a roadmap to holiday e-commerce marketing success, isn’t it time you got started? Need a hand on your journey? Reach out, we’re here to help!