Q4 Checklist: How to Prep Your eComm Brand for the Holidays

It’s beginning to look a lot like Q4, and CAKE has whipped up a checklist to get your brand prepped for holidays!

eCommerce has seen substantial growth due to the pandemic, with shoppers turning to online stores to make all their holiday purchases. The 2020 holiday season experienced two years of growth (an increase of 32% from 2019), reaching a total of over $188 billion. 

So here’s a gift from us to you: We’ve measured out the 10 secret eCommerce ingredients to a successful holiday season. From search engine optimization (SEO) to customer service, this checklist will cover it all. 

We understand preparing for the influx of holiday shoppers – once again – is a lot to digest. So let’s sift through the strategies together and get your brand ready to make some holiday magic!

Joy to the World (of SEO)

Optimization for the holidays, especially when it comes to SEO, is the icing on the cake! Integrating holiday keywords is a great place to start. Do some research on trending holiday searches from previous years, and use some of these holiday-themed keywords in your content. This will attract users searching for relevant or related results to your page.


Before you begin any other SEO optimizations, review your current rankings and any data from previous holiday seasons. Identify the weak spots within your site’s pages or published content and then update and optimize it accordingly. Consider making your site’s content more relevant to holiday shoppers to drive more traffic to your website. 

Inventory is Top Tier

Making record sales without sufficient inventory is like trying to bake a super sweet cake without sugar; it’s the most essential ingredient. That’s why it’s crucial to check and stock your inventory before the holiday sale season. 


When it comes to holiday shopping, “low-stock,” “out of stock,” and “backorder” are three of the biggest eCommerce no-nos because they sabotage the customer experience. A major concern for customers is purchasing a gift that won’t arrive in time for the holidays. That is why it is so critical to stock and restock, organize, and make sure to keep tabs on your inventory throughout the season. 


To do this, check with suppliers early on. It’s never too early to get a jump on inventory preparations and stock up on best-sellers and seasonal favorites. Bonus Tip: You can use sales data from previous years to project how much of each product you may need. 

Keep it Simple & Sweet

When it comes to your site, the user experience (UX) needs to be seamless. This begins with optimizing and simplifying the checkout process. Offering guest checkout, multiple payment options, and limiting the process to one page and three steps are all ways to make checkout more effortless and less time-consuming. This will add value to the customer experience and leave shoppers satisfied rather than frustrated with your site’s functionality and operation. 


Another way to enhance your site and user experience for the holidays is to check and test site speed. Your site’s performance should rank as a high priority, as it will need to be prepared to take on and function normally even with an influx of user traffic. When it comes to site speed, it affects 70% of consumers’ decisions to purchase. So if your site is slow as molasses, this may actually inhibit your ability to make holiday sales. 


So keep it simple and sweet, and don’t overcomplicate things for your shoppers. Between buying gifts and preparing for the holidays, they have enough on their plate (and in their oven)!

Add a Bit of Zest!

The holidays are the most festive and fun time of year! So a cookie-cutter site design just isn’t going to cut it. Though you should make sure your site is navigable, it should also reflect your brand’s personality and incorporate seasonal visuals. Feature some holiday-themed content and web designs to get users excited about shopping your seasonal selections. 


Keep in mind it’s important not to overwhelm or overstimulate shoppers with distracting visuals or graphics. Just a dash of holiday web decor is enough to really enhance the user experience.

‘Tis the Season for Abandoned Cart Shoppers

Now, let’s talk about the eCommerce scrooge of holiday shopping: abandoned carts. Though abandoned cart shoppers are inevitable, you should start thinking of some creative new ways to win back their interest and intent to purchase. One way to do this is with push notifications. Sending live notifications to customers who have abandoned their cart act as a gentle reminder and an attempt to re-entice them to complete a purchase. 


Don’t be afraid to spread a little holiday cheer in these abandoned cart notifications for a sprinkle of extra luck! 

Don’t Be a Grinch!

There’s nothing a frustrated holiday shopper hates more than grinchy-customer service. Issues are inevitable, and when a customer encounters one during their shopping experience, it’s important your customer service will support their needs (in order to win their business and loyalty). Optimize your customer support by offering a live chat feature – so shoppers can ask directly to communicate with customer service from your site – and make sure your contact information is easily accessible. 

Holiday Content

Generating branded holiday content is the bread and butter of preparing for the holiday season. Your brand should consider publishing gift guides (featuring your products, of course) and holiday blogs to entice and intrigue audiences who are looking for that perfect present! You can also create content (via social media posts and stories, infographics, lives, or Reels) that features your brand’s unique holiday sales and any special seasonal offers. 

Campaigns Are the Creme de la Creme

We can’t emphasize this enough: Get your lead gen campaigns live ASAP! It’s never too soon. We are already seeing brands launching ad campaigns for the holidays, so it’s time to get on board. 


Lead generation campaigns are a great way to attract new business. So, use these early weeks to launch campaigns that will get potential customers and target audiences interested in your brand, products, and holiday specials. Holiday-themed marketing campaigns – via email or SMS – generate excitement and anticipation for seasonal favorites and special deals amongst potential customers.


Make use of social media and feature holiday contests and giveaways that require users to like, tag, and share the post in order to enter. This not only increases user engagement (and excitement) but also improves brand awareness. The action of tagging and sharing allows your brand to reach new audiences, which could lead to new business opportunities. 


Another way to use social media is to feature live holiday countdowns to sales (like Black Friday and Cyber Monday), new releases, or celebrations like New Years. 

Holiday Merchandise 

Every brand has a holiday bestseller. Featuring and pushing these seasonal favorites or holiday bundles in your marketing campaigns will get customers excited to see their holiday faves back in stock! Offering any special deals on holiday merchandise is also a sure way to get shoppers interested in making a repeat purchase. Start considering how to generate new excitement about these seasonal products, and make sure you’re incorporating them in your social posts, too.

Butter ‘Em Up with Freebies

Winning over customers isn’t always a piece of cake, especially with so many competitors offering holiday deals. But giving your customers something extra special is a good start. Free shipping or returns, free holiday gift wrapping, or a free gift with purchase are a few ideas to get you started. After all, it’s the season of giving, and what better way to earn customer loyalty than with a little something to say thank you for your purchase!

Celebrate with CAKE

Let us take something off your plate. We understand the holidays are the busiest time of year for eCommerce. Contact CakeCommerce for a seamless season. With CAKE, the holidays are as easy as pie!