How to prepare your e-Commerce store for the holiday season

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Holiday season is indeed one of the most profitable times of the year. It is quite important for online businesses to identify a strategy in order to make sure that their site is ready for the holiday rush. Some retailers focus exclusively on their ability to put together the received order quickly and efficiently while some focus specifically on the performance of their store site so that the website is ready for the heavy online traffic. It might be surprising for some but there are times when many e-Commerce entrepreneurs in their first few years don’t even get time to plan for the holiday season because of their busy day-to-day routine of running an e-Commerce store

The key to taking advantage of holiday traffic is to pay attention to all areas rather than focusing on one single thing. A holiday strategy, if executed correctly, can be a difference between a great successful season and disappointment.

Create a promotional calendar

Creating a promotional calendar should be your first step in planning ahead for the holiday season. A promotional calendar will allow you to map out:

  • What holidays you will be participating
  • What deals you will be offering in the holidays season
  • When to start your marketing campaign
  • Keeping a track of dates for planning when to start and stop the promotions

It is always a good idea to keep your promotional calendar simple and set it up online so that it is easily be accessible to your entire team. You can use services like Google Docs, Google Calendar or Dropbox which can be accessed from anywhere.

Create a holiday marketing plan

You should create a good marketing strategy in order to have a profitable holiday season. Make sure your online store is getting the proper exposure on different ad channels to showcase all the promotions and discounts that you are offering during the holiday season.

  • Send emails/newsletters to your customers. Email marketing is a great way to advertise your online store and promotions that you are offering. Sending out periodic emails before the holiday season keeps your clients and prospects in the loop and it stimulate interest in your business / brand. Email marketing is also considers a low-cost way to reach your customers as compared to spending money on pamphlets/flyers or other printing material.
  • Write blog posts. Blog can certainly help your growing business and writing blog posts about promotions / discounts during the holiday season can easily attract new shoppers to your store. Blog is a great way to have quality content on your website related to your products/services that helps to build strong relationships and trust between customers and brands.
  • Social media is a great platform for promotion. Promoting you products and services on social media sites (Twitter, Facebook and Google+) can easily amplify your voice to reach out to larger audience. Using social media for your business can easily increase the brand awareness at little to no cost.
  • Pay attention to graphics and landing pages. Specific graphics and design of your website while running any kind of promotions will link all your campaigns together. It is important to pay attention to landing pages and graphics for example: A pop up promotional screen when any visitor lands on the homepage will make sure that the customer is aware of what you have to offer during the holiday season.

Optimization, testing and security of your website

So, you have been following your promotional calendar throughout the year and have a great marketing plan, what else? The worst thing that can happen during the key holiday season when you are getting all the online traffic at once is loss of revenue from a down website. As the traffic increases on your website during the holiday rush, you run the risk of crashing or overloading of your website. It is important to be prepared for situations like this in advance and talk to your hosting provider (or server administration) in regard to how to minimize the risk of overload and what steps are necessary to overcome the issues. It is always a good practice to test your website in advance for performance issues as well as security threats. During the peak time of the season, as you get more orders, the chances for security issues also increase like scam payments and fake transactions.

Quick tips for the holiday season

  • Keep the marketing campaign simple
  • Make sure to test your promotions and discounts codes (there have been many cases when campaigns went horribly wrong)
  • Develop a test case for your website, promotions and discount codes
  • It is always a good practice to maintain a discount coupon code library
  • Make sure you have SSL certificate installed for your store site
  • Most important – Keep testing your environment again and again!!!

Author: Lavish Kumar

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