Plan Now for E-Commerce Holiday Success, Part 2

Is your online store ready to handle the holiday season?

Busy sales are hardly a problem for an online retailer – unless you’re not prepared for them. Last week we shared Part One of Plan Now for E-Commerce Holiday Success, in which we covered manufacturing and fine-tuning your website, including optimizing for mobile. Today, we’ll talk about shipping strategies and promotional ideas to keep your customers happy in the competitive holiday market.

1. Start Your Engines – Get the process going by checking last year’s sales, projecting this year’s and placing orders.

2. Check Under the Hood – Does your website need updating? Check and tweak product descriptions, images and most importantly, mobile optimization.

3. Start Driving!

SHIPPING

Now may be the time to review your shipping policies and perhaps come up with a promotion for the holiday season. Shipping charges can make or break a sale and the competition is fierce, especially once Black Friday and Cyber Monday come around. Customers expect deals and they’ll be presented with plenty of them.

Options to explore are slightly raising your costs of goods to be able to accommodate free shipping, offering shipping discounts after reaching a spend threshold, or even marketing through emailed discounts rewarded in return for a customer signing up for your subscriber list. To explore options available and how you can make shipping discounts cost-effective, check out our recent blog post, “Weigh Your Options Before Offering Free Shipping.”

PROMOTIONS

It’s never too early to start planning your holiday promotions – there are so many things you can do! Populate a promotional calendar to help stay on track. A few ideas to mull over:

  • BOGOs. Shoppers respond positively to “buy one, get one free” promotions, just take care to have enough stock to support it. On the flipside, a 50% off promotion achieves the same thing, without your having to sit on a lot of unsold products.
  • Flash sales. If done right, you can greatly bump up holiday revenue by running some exciting flash sales. The promotion offered can be an across-the-board percentage off, a dollar amount discount, clearance sales on slow-moving inventory; analyze your data and inventory to decide what works best. The timing can be a 12-hour window or a couple of days; again, what works best for you (keep in mind to notify your ISP/hosting company of upcoming heavier traffic). Marketing Sherpa has a really great case study if you’d like some ideas and inspiration. (By the way, you may want to decide this before placing that holiday order with your manufacturer!)
  • Emailed promotions. Send an online coupon code to your customers or offer a discount for signing up. This alone can act as an incentive to browse the site and make a purchase in order to use the discount. Through your shopping cart solution and our web portal, it’s as easy as activating the function.

4. Enjoy the Ride

It may seem overwhelming, but with some solid planning and forethought, your ecommerce store can sail through this holiday season easily. This is not to say that nothing will go wrong – you can plan for that! – but planning ahead will give you a good foundation and systems in place to handle whatever may come your way.

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