Navigate the biggest season in eCommerce

There’s a certain scent in the air at this time of year. From the last of the summer sun still dwindling, to the sense of anticipation that is in the air – Autumn time with its crunchy leaves, golden light and brisk air is beginning to settle in.

It’s this time of year when we in the digital marketing world begin to think about the biggest few months in eCommerce. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday to Christmas gifting – these next few months are crucial for any eCommerce website. And if you fail to prepare – then prepare to fail. Preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Christmas holiday season is imperative for eCommerce businesses to maximise their sales and provide a seamless shopping experience for customers.

Luckily for you, we have gotten together the 10 best ways for you to prepare for the upcoming season. KW Marketing is your partner in crime for all things eCommerce – and we’ve got the getaway car filled with money ready for you. Ready? LET’S GO!

1. Test until you can’t test no more!

Website performance NEEDS to be among your top priorities. In terms of stability and scalability, your store needs to be ready and able to handle increased demands from customers. This is a crucial way to prepare for the upcoming sale season.

You may need to improve your site speed, even if only by a few milliseconds. The impact of this is less abandoned shopping carts at the end of the day.
To start, you or a team member should check how your pages load for every element within your website. Sites like GTmetrix can help. This includes loading images and checking out – it’s crucial that every step of your customer journey is covered.

In the same vein, you’ll need to ensure that your website’s mobile responsiveness is up to par. It’s no secret that a ton of shoppers prefer mobile shopping in particular, as this is an easy and accessible way to shop.
At a minimum, you should test your website using your mobile phone. Your images should be responsive on mobile, and your entire website should be mobile-friendly before the sales season truly begins.

2. Get inventory/stock organised

The key to staying ahead means that you’ll need adequate stock levels. You may expect to keep 10% more stock than the previous year.

Ensuring that you’re stocked adequately, or can re-order new stock quickly, is an absolute necessity during this time. You don’t want to sell out too early, with no plan to meet customer demand later on.
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need some kind of system to ensure that your stock levels and sales align so that your eCommerce website reflects the correct inventory to your customers. This is a vital thing to organise properly in order to prepare for the upcoming holiday season – so get ready!

3. Campaigns that sleigh

Many customers use discount shopping as a way to gauge and compare different sales and deals. You need to be joined up in your approach to campaigns, discounts and sales promotions. At this time of year, people want to get the best possible deal, and you’ll need to keep this in mind when you start promoting for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.

You can expect that a large part of your customer base will want to start buying gifts soon, so now is the perfect time to decide on the type of promotions, deals, or discounts that you’ll be offering later in the year. Once you decide on this, you can ensure that any promotional material aligns with your goals and branding. Incentivising loyal customers with VIP offers, bespoke preview offers for certain members of your customer base is a brilliant way of treating your audience to the discounts that THEY want. Creating campaigns that slay your goals AND your branding!

4. A content calendar that knocks your brand awareness out of the park

While unsuspecting, this is a crucial thing to do when planning for the weeks ahead. If you are using content marketing in your long-term strategy or short-term tactics, you will need to ensure that you include relevant, relatable content throughout the holiday season.

This could include content like gift guides, list posts centered on gifts for him or her, and holiday-specific blog topics that your audience will love. Perhaps you could include a giveaway, a competition or a fun interactive quiz for your audience. Canva has some amazing templates that can help your social media content calendar.

In addition, make sure you include social media on your calendar. Given the importance of sales during this time, you’ll need to find ways to get your customers to openly share and speak about your products. Think about potential influencers that you might want to give some products to – the power of giveaways, competitions and word-of-mouth reviews are essential in reaching new audiences.

5. Plan your promotional emails

We know how well emails can perform. You’ve seen it, we’ve seen it. We also know that emails containing sales elements can perform well if they’re not always obvious. There is no better time to start creating sales and discount emails than in the build up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.

You should probably start sending out some prepared sales promotions first, for the more prepared customer. Later in the month, you can send emails that will appeal to last-minute buyers, who may be waiting for an opportunity from your store.

An important email type to remember is the abandoned cart reminder. On crazy sales days like Black Friday, you’ll only have a few hours to save an abandoned cart – so it’s necessary to reach out to those customers while reiterating the urgency needed. You can also set a time for your reminder, such as after 60 or 120 minutes as a follow-up.

Set up these email promotions beforehand to make sure you’re able to focus on the results. They might need a little tweak here and there, but you’ll be able to sit back and watch the revenue come in!

6. Prepare your customer service for the season

It’s a busy time of year – and stressful for some! Prep your customer service team well to ensure they’re always up to date on any promos, issues with stock or fulfillment of products. This means that no one is left in the dark and your customer has the BEST service that they could possibly have when it comes to your company. Good customer service = loyal customers.

Similarly, you may not realise this, but outreach can be very useful during this season. If you have customers from the months prior to Black Friday, Cyber Monday & Christmas, then they may be ready for a quick re-purchase from your store. One way of convincing them to make the sale is to show them excellent customer service.

7. Loyalty is key

The holiday silly season is a great opportunity to earn and keep loyal customers. This is an important strategy, because repeat customers can function as the bread and butter of your store’s revenue.
You’ll need to prepare to deal with a larger influx of customers during the holiday season. That may be new customers or old customers. That’s why the holiday shopping season is a perfect time to create new customer relations and improve your existing customer relations.

Some ways to do this include:

  • New email campaigns. If personalised, customers enjoy receiving a follow-up email. Emails to use include a welcome email, promotional email, and guide/how-to email if this is necessary for your store.
  • Loyalty programs, if applicable to your store. This can provide an incentive for new purchases.
  • Asking for feedback after purchase to ensure that you are going above and beyond expectations. You will want to deliver the best possible service, from a perfect product to a more wholesome customer experience.

You shouldn’t be satisfied with once-off customers, as you’re missing out on a bigger opportunity for your eCommerce website.

8. Keep it locked down!

Online crime is known to increase over busy periods of internet shopping. (It’s often known as ‘holiday fraud’). Put your customers at ease by ensuring you have the appropriate online security technology (such as SSL) in place. Let customers know about it by putting your Secure Site certificates in prominent locations, and having a page that addresses your visitors’ concerns, such as a FAQ’s. Security = sincerity and your customers will love that you are keeping them safe.

9. Easy to navigate checkout process

Once your website and all its wonderful features have persuaded the consumer to buy the product, you want to make sure they spring into action and close the deal, ASAP! People want fast transactions with minimal effort required. Having a clear checkout process will allow the customer to have control over their shopping experience. Be sure to include checkout buttons on every product page, their basket and easy to find in the navigation.

When it comes to checking out, you want to avoid ‘cart abandonment’ by designing a process that is easy and efficient. The key features of a successful checkout experience are:

  • Fast
  • Transparent (don’t give them any surprises!)
  • Easy to navigate
  • Easy to control
  • Minimum information needed

10. Keep calm and carry on

Yes, it’s a busy time of year. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be stressful. Keep yourself calm, enjoy the process and don’t get too stressed out. You’ll come out the other side of it knowing more about your business than you ever did!

Hopefully, there are some ideas there to get you inspired for Black Friday, Cyber Monday & the biggy – Christmas! Get your ecommerce shop ready to go-ho-ho (sorry!) So, crack open the mulled wine, blast out the Buble, and start getting those sales in!

If you need help with your eCommerce website this crazy festive season, get in touch with us today to help you to sleigh all day!