The holiday shopping season is near (crazy, right?), and now is the best time to start preparing your eCommerce store. Industry experts agree that this year will be different and feature a higher than normal dependence on online ordering. As an independent brand, making sure you’re prepared will be crucial to your overall success come holiday time.
So what should you prioritize when it comes to getting your business ready for an influx of customers in only a few short weeks? Our awesome CAKE team has put together this quick checklist of eCommerce tips to help get your online store ready for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales rush.
1. Make Sure Your Website is Tech Ready
The first thing you need to do is ensure your eCommerce store is ready in terms of tech. There’s nothing worse than getting to the big holiday sales weekend and discovering that your website isn’t ready for a mad rush of shoppers.
Use available Shopify apps to check page speed, increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts so your website and product listings are showing up on Google, and ensure your email service provider (ESP) is ready to accept new customers into your funnel. Doing all of this now will help reduce the potential for problems during prime shopping season.
2. Prepare for Inventory
You likely already know what your bestsellers are going to be. Prepare for all of those orders by making sure you have the inventory to fulfill them. If that means getting additional warehouse space now or even making sure your production team is ready for the influx, handle it before things get crazy.
Think of this from a customer perspective. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have hundreds or even thousands of orders to fulfill, yet they have to wait weeks to get their order due to a backlog. Be clear about product availability during peak shopping times to help ensure positive customer satisfaction.
3. Have a Plan for Shipping
One of the key components to preparing for the holiday shopping season is to plan for shipping. Decide which carriers you want to use and where you want to send orders, whether it be just in the United States or globally. If you’re creating specific packaging with your logo, branding, or a holiday theme, make sure you have plenty of it ready now.
This is also the time to decide if you’re going to offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount or if you’re going to only offer it with a coupon code. Another option is to offer free shipping sitewide to help incentivize sales. Sit down with the numbers and see if this is an option, as it can be a very powerful method for gaining new customers.
4. Sell Gift Cards
If you already know your product inventory will be limited through the holiday season, it’s a good idea to offer gift cards as an alternative. You can either opt for electronic cards that are sent through email, or you can have physical cards that you mail to the purchaser. Either way works, and both are equally as popular right now.
There are tons of great gift card apps on Shopify, so pick one that you really think meets your needs and budget. Just remember that you’ll have to fulfill those orders at some point, so be prepared to do so after the holiday season is over.
5. Have Your Marketing Copy Ready
There’s nothing worse than trying to decide on what to write in your marketing emails with a short deadline. Instead, use the next few weeks to get your copy written, whether that means doing it yourself or hiring it out.
Think of everything you could possibly want to send out, from thank you emails to sales notes. You’ll also want to figure out posts for marketing channels, SMS messaging, and paid advertising campaigns. Try to be as thorough as possible – the more ground you cover now, the less you’ll have to rush to get done before crunch time.
6. Create a Marketing Map
Another tip that will help you with the previous step is to create a marketing map. Follow the customer journey from where they see your brand for the first time to all the different ways they can hear about you until they actually make a purchase.
This is an important thing to have during all times of the year, but it is especially crucial during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Make sure you consider any special offers, incentives, last-minute deals, or whatever else you plan to offer during the holiday sales season.
7. Maximize Your Sales Channels
While it might be tempting to just sell on your eCommerce store, you’ll have a greater chance of success if you maximize your sales channels. This means everything from Facebook and Instagram Shopping to larger options like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, etc. Even Google Shopping is critical right now.
Sit down and make a list of what you’re already using and the different channels you can add. Then get to work implementing them as soon as possible.
8. Create Contingency Plans
Not everything is always going to go right on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So, make sure you have plenty of contingency plans. This includes order fulfillment, customer service, inventory, advertising, and so much more.
Being agile during this busy season is critical to your success. Make sure you’re watching the data and have a clear idea of what is working and what isn’t. Then go ahead and change up what isn’t in the best interest of your business.
9. Scope Out the Competition
You are already well aware of who your competitors are. Make sure you know how they’re marketing by signing up for their email list or scoping out their website now. If you see something you can use as inspiration for your own retail marketing, feel free to use it.
Now…There’s a caveat to this. You don’t want to be too inspired to the point of plagiarism. The goal here is to take what they’re doing, apply it to your target market, and make it better. eCommerce strategy is definitely a game of competition, so make sure you know what everyone in your niche is up to.
10. Up Your Customer Service Game
While we would love for everything to go absolutely smoothly throughout the holiday shopping season, there’s a good chance something will happen that you’ll need to respond to. That’s why it is a good idea to up your customer service game now before you really need it.
Hire help to answer emails or add a live chat app to your website. Train your people to be helpful and courteous throughout the process. And remember that speed is super important during the holiday season when it comes to replies and resolutions.
Looking for someone to help you implement these checklist items before Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Our dedicated CAKE team offers plenty of eCommerce consulting services to help get you on the right track. Please contact us today for details.