It’s that time of year again – the holiday shopping season is upon us!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now among the biggest of shopping events, and online retail sales have skyrocketed over the last decade. Last year (2018), Cyber Monday set a record for online sales at $7.9 billion, of which nearly $3 billion in purchases being made on mobile devices. Black Friday wasn’t far behind at $6.2 billion and Small Business Saturday surpassed $3 billion. For many ecommerce businesses, it’s perhaps the most important time of year, meaning that it’s more important than ever to make sure your website and related systems are running at their best.
If you are one of those businesses who is still running an older website that isn’t mobile friendly, well, you may miss out on some orders this season. It’s too late to upgrade your website for this shopping season, but you can start planning for your website upgrade and get it done in plenty of time before the next big shopping season. The amount of sales coming from mobile devices is expected to continue growing.
Test, Test, Test
The best way to know how things are going on your site is to test it for yourself. Place test orders, and confirm that everything is operating smoothly, from browsing and searching products, to adding items to your order, and finalizing the order. Look for any errors, performance issues, or security alerts. If you find anything out of the ordinary, you’ll be able to fix it quickly before you lose orders due to something simple. Customers won’t always tell you if something is wrong with your site. Quite often, they’ll just leave and shop somewhere else, and we definitely don’t want that!
Make sure your policies are up to date
Policies that are published for returns, security, and shipping are often forgotten about once they’re put in place. Before the order volume really picks up, it’s always a good idea to review those policies and make any changes that might be needed.
Whenever possible, provide suggestions to your customers
Depending on what kind of business you’re in, this could mean many things, but in retail sales, gift guides are extremely popular and are known to boost sales. Offering product suggestions or filters by price, interest, age groups, etc. As the expert on your own product, you can provide unique tips and info to shoppers that can stimulate sales.
Google Shopping and Adwords allow you to broadcast what you sell to the world through Google and their various sales channels. I’m using these Google services as an example, but other search engines have their own unique advertising and sales opportunities as well. Considering the market share that Google has with search however, it’s always recommended to start with them, casting the largest net possible.
Cover your bases on the backend
- Staff up – Make sure you have enough employees to cover the additional volume of the shopping season.
- Stock up – While it’s not always possible to know how much you’ll sell, stock up on your best sellers.
- Supply up – If your products use special packaging, make sure you have plenty of it to get you through the season.
- Plan ahead for cutoff dates on shipping – Communicate shipping cutoff dates clearly in your website’s shopping process so customers know what to expect, and also make sure your staff is up to date as well.
- Expand your shipping options – Most ecommerce businesses I work with don’t use all of the available shipping methods at their disposal. During the holiday season however, offering a special expedited shipping option can save a sale that you might otherwise lose. There are plenty of last minute shoppers out there, and while expensive last minute shipping options aren’t usually appealing, offering them during the holiday season can be something to consider.
If you have questions, need some ideas, or actually have a problem you’d like to work out before things get busy, we can certainly help. Drop us a message or give us a call!