Alright, we’re here. It’s officially November! The holiday season is upon us and what better way to ensure we’re all well prepared for it, than to share a last minute Holiday eCommerce Check List. Let’s get ready to rock the holiday rush!
Objectives, Goals and the Right Mind Set
First, make sure you have an overall strategy in place with clear set goals. What are you looking to achieve from this holiday season? What are your specific sales targets? Marketing Goals? Other objectives like newsletter sign-ups, etc? Making sure these goals are clear is critical to not only track your success, but it will also help provide you with some direction as to where to focus your efforts.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to break down my checklist into 2 sections: on-site checks & off-site checks.
1. Product Content
Make sure that descriptions are well written, because product content is key. They need to be relevant in that they describe the product well, and include the proper information. For example, including information like material, or size charts, can go a long way to ensure comfort for your customers, especially when gift giving. Also, check that you have your product images, or any other pieces of content that support your products, in order. Alternate images, closer angles, and video content, all provide your customer with different ways to view your products before making the decision to buy. In the end, the more content there is, the better.
2. Promotions “‘Tis the season to run promotions. Fa-la-la-la-laaaa-la-la-la-la.”
It’s not just one promo, we’re talking about numerous promotions, sometimes running in parallel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had customers try a new promotion the day it was supposed to start. This isn’t the time of year to leave things to the last minute. You likely have an idea, if not already know which promotions you’ll be running through the major holidays, so test, practice, try! Leave no room for surprises.
This goes hand-in-hand with promotions. You know what marketing you’ll need. Don’t wait until Wednesday before Black Friday to design the marketing banners on your site if you already know what you need. Especially if there are executives who need to approve, or other departments you need involved. The more organized you are now, the better, and the more successful your online campaigns will be.
4. Site Performance
You will get busier. November and December, in most cases, are the months with the heaviest traffic, for obvious reasons (eg. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Holiday shopping rush etc). So don’t let this fact slip passed you. Is your server ready to handle the traffic? If you haven’t yet, it would be good to run some performance tests on your servers to make sure you are really ready.
Do you have your digital marketing strategy in place? Do you know what programs you’re going to run, i.e. Affiliates, Adwords, Retargeting, etc? Have you assigned a Marketing budget for the season? As much as it is great to plan ahead, keep in mind that the beauty of online marketing, is that you get results right away. So plan, prepare, organize, but in this category, leave some wiggle room. Leave room to adjust as things change. This strategy will help you maximize your budget, and achieve the highest ROI possible.
This time of year, order volumes will increase. It’s important to make sure you are able to handle that increase. Review your fulfillment process, and make sure you are running as efficiently as possible. If there are areas to improve, now’s the time. It’s never too late. In some cases, adding a few extra bodies in the warehouse to fulfill orders after those busy days, like the Black Friday weekend, or Boxing Day, really helps get items out the door.
3. Customer Service
Like fulfillment, customer service inquiries increase this time of year. Sometimes people just need to call, email, chat with someone to confirm the order has been received, and will be delivered on time. Alternatively, they might want to make changes, ask questions, even get help completing their order. Making sure you’re ready for this will have a drastic improvement on your customer service, which inevitably results in higher sales, and return customers in the new year.
Prepare as best you can
Keep in mind, last minute issues/changes do come up. Especially in retail. That doesn’t mean you can’t do all you can to avoid it. Prepare the best you can, and the rest will be easier. Hopefully this list will help. Is there anything you would want to add? Let me know in the comments section below!