Lesson Progress
0% Complete

If you’ve ever dabbled in selling anything online, you’ll probably realize how important the holiday season is for driving sales.

This is because the holiday season is a period that is critical to the success of an ecommerce brand or store, as sales and competition increase each year.

What you might not see, however, is the lengths that these brands will go in order to ensure proper ecommerce holiday readiness. As in, they plan ahead and prepare for the surge.

Here’s how they do that and how you can learn from the ways the most successful brands prepare in advance.

What is Ecommerce Holiday Readiness?

Ecommerce holiday readiness refers to the process of preparing an online store for the increased traffic and sales volume that typically occurs during holiday seasons.

This involves optimizing various aspects of your ecommerce ecosystem to ensure a smooth operation, maximized sales, and an optimal customer experience during critical periods like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, or any regional and cultural festivals.

An ecommerce business should always be refining systems to sell more and ensure that things run smoothly.

However, it is very important to intentionally work toward optimizing systems and revenue around the holidays specifically, as they oftentimes drive a considerable amount of revenue during these times.

How to Prepare Your Online Store for the Holiday Season

1. Forecasting and Inventory Management

An ecommerce store is only as good as the orders it can fulfill, which is why it is critically important to ensure the appropriate levels of inventory before the holiday season hits.

I suggest using previous sales data, as well as current trends, to forecast which products will be high in demand and then stock inventory levels accordingly. Tools like Stitchlabs can help.

If you have excess inventory laying around as you prepare, you should also consider clearing it out by running pre-holiday sales to ensure that you have enough storage space to focus on warehousing the most lucrative and popular products.

If you’re moving into a new marketing, start preparations well in advance of the holiday season. I suggest a minimum of 6-12 months so that you truly understand the market and buying patterns within it.

Real-World Example

Amazon often ramps up its inventory and optimizes its supply chain for the holiday season.

It uses predictive analytics to forecast demand for popular products and ensures it has sufficient stock to handle the surge in orders. This includes hiring additional warehouse staff and increasing the capacity of its fulfillment centers.

2. Website Optimization and Performance

Just as an ecommerce website is nothing without inventory, it is also worthless without a functioning website.

It is important to understand that during the holiday season, your website will likely see a huge spike in traffic. Don’t let the cripple it.

First, make sure that you optimize the website well in advance. Ensure the site loads quickly and it works like it is supposed to work.

Optimizing images, leveraging browse caching, and reducing the use of resource-heavy scripts are a few easy ways to achieve a fast site speed. Google Pagespeed Insights can help diagnose slow website issues.

a screenshot of the pagespeed insights report for bloggingtips.com

A fast site not only helps customers browse your products and check out quickly, but also helps to reduce bounce rates and cart abandonment issues from those who might get frustrated and leave a site that it slow to load.

You should already be doing this already, but ensure that your website is also optimized for mobile browsing.

Many shoppers browse in their free time on their phones, so having a website that loads well on these devices is very important.

Real-World Example

Walmart focuses on improving its website and mobile app performance. They ensure that their online platforms can handle increased traffic and transactions smoothly, reducing the likelihood of crashes or slowdowns, which are crucial during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

3. Cybersecurity Measures

Next up comes making sure that your ecommerce website is secured and following security best practices well ahead of the holiday season.

It’s a fairly well-known fact that hackers target ecommerce websites during the holiday season. After all, this is when peak traffic and purchasing occurs.

The best ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace will almost always have leading-edge security in place. This is one of the benefits of building on an ecommerce platform instead of trying to build a store within WordPress.

Ecommerce plugins and themes are convenient, but they oftentimes leave open store owners vulnerable to hacks. This is especially true if the store owner doesn’t update plugins or has custom-coded elements to the site.

Regardless of what your store is built on, though, I still suggest researching and implementing fraud detection tools within your store in addition to actively monitoring all transactions to help catch and prevent fraud.

Real-World Example

Given the increase in online transactions, companies like Apple emphasize improving their cybersecurity measures to protect consumer data.

They implement enhanced security protocols and educate customers on safe online shopping practices during the holiday season.

4. Marketing, Promotions, & Customer Experience

The competition for holidays like Cyber Monday only increases, so it is important to figure out how to stand out from the competition.

I have seen great success focusing on marketing and promotions during holidays. The idea is to launch your marketing campaigns early as a way to create awareness and exciting around upcoming deals and offers.

Start planning holiday promotions early, ideally before the Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend. This helps your brand to remain top of mind going into the busy season where customers will be bombarded with ads.

If you have an email list, reach out to customers and let them know about the specials. Stack that on top of social media marketing, increasing your presence and post rate to engage with a broader audience.

Real-World Examples

Target uses targeted email marketing, early promotions, and exclusive deals to attract customers. They often offer “sneak peeks” of Black Friday deals to their email subscribers and use data-driven insights to personalize offers based on past purchasing behaviors.

Nike leverages social media to run targeted ad campaigns and engage with customers through holiday-themed content. They often collaborate with influencers to amplify their reach and generate buzz around their holiday collections.

5. Customer Service

A mistake that I see many ecommerce businesses making is not in scaling up, but in reacting to the huge influx of customer service requests after scaling up.

Go to great lengths to enhance your customer support to brace for the added stress that your support systems will face with added demand.

Enhance your support with additional staff or automated tools like chatbots to handle increased inquiries and support tickets. Also have a clear, easy-to-understand returns policy in place to handle post-holiday returns efficiently.

Once the systems are in place, properly prepare the customer service team on how to handle requests. This should include written documentation and clear policies that they can defer to in tough situations.

Real-World Example

Best Buy enhances its customer support during the holiday season by extending service hours and employing more customer service representatives. They also provide tech support to help customers make informed decisions and manage post-purchase inquiries effectively.

6. Long-Term Strategy

Lastly, make sure to have an open mind and learn as you go. No ecommerce store will get this right from the start – it’s an evolving process that continually improves with time.

Use the experience you learn in one season to improve for the next. With time, your systems will continue to get better and better, and customers will be happier as a result.

Key Takeaways

By systematically addressing these areas, ecommerce businesses can significantly enhance their preparedness for the holiday season, ensuring a seamless shopping experience for customers and maximizing their revenue potential.

Start planning early to make the most of the festive surge in shopper activity!