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How to prepare your eCommerce site for Christmas

The festive period is almost here and after a bumper year in 2020, eCommerce stores need to further up their game in 2021.

Last year was a Christmas like no other, with many people spending Christmas apart from their loved ones, avoiding in-store shopping and shopping online in unprecedented numbers.

This year, people are expecting a more normal festive season, but the signs are there that demand for eCommerce remains high. The trend for online shopping, turbocharged by the pandemic, is here to stay. Sitecore’s 2021 Holiday Trends Report UK also show that 30% of people will spend more this holiday season compared to last year.

The problem for eCommerce stores isn’t a lack of customers, it’s competition. If you want to outwit your competitors, be the go-to site for gifts and increase sales, follow our guide on preparing your site for Christmas.

Get up to speed

To embrace the Christmas period, your website and stock levels need to be ready. Your eCommerce platform needs to have an intuitive user interface, allowing visitors to get what they need easily and with as little friction as possible. Don’t overwhelm your customers with too many options and excessive information. Keep your site minimalistic and easy to navigate, especially on a mobile device.

Whether you’re selling b2b or b2c, there’s likely to be increased demand for stock. To avoid long wait times and frustrated customers, make sure you’re appropriately stocked, especially for likely gift items.

Modern customers also expect fulfilment to be speedy. If you generally offer a slow delivery time consider whether you could offer more by outsourcing to an external fulfilment company. If you have a physical store, offer people the option to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS). Using a physical store as a place of fulfilment for online sales can help get products in the hands of customers faster and avoid delivery delays.

Optimise Checkout

Once they’ve put products in their basket and got to the checkout page, your customer is ready to buy. Don’t lose customers because your checkout process is too complicated.

Test your checkout process. Go through it yourself as if you were a buyer and note any potential problems along the way. Then optimise it for the best results. Improvements could include consolidating your checkout to one page and offering more payment options. You could also try and bring buyers back who got distracted along the way with automated basket abandonment notifications.

Don’t force people to register the first time they visit. They might want to build trust in your brand before registering and it could create a barrier to purchase.

Excellent Customer Service

If you’re expecting your eCommerce website to experience a higher volume of sales over the festive period, prepare your customer service team. Make sure your team are aware of the offers you are running so they can effectively help with customer enquiries. Have several ways – clearly identified on your site – for shoppers to reach you for customer support. Ensure knowledgeable members of your team are available to help with queries and can get back to customers within a reasonable timeframe.

The Christmas period is likely to bring a higher volume of sales and alongside it, a higher volume of returns. Review your returns policy as part of your customer care package. Display your returns policy prominently on your website to make it clear for website visitors. If your return policy is too strict during the festive season, you risk losing the sale.

Personalised Experience

To maximise sales from every website visitor you need to give customers an experience that’s unique to them. Increase conversion rates by basing product recommendations on customer data, such as location or demographic. Business-related data, like margin and inventory, can also be used to surface products that are both relevant to the customer and business.

Retailers can also use insights from previous browsing history to show relevant content to shoppers, reminding them of products they browsed last time they visited or showcasing something related to a previous purchase.

Merchandising Strategy

Build a strategy around the products you want to focus on this Christmas. Firstly you need to think about how to showcase them on your website. Consider your target audiences needs and desires and what would appeal to them. You could consider holiday bundles, upsell and cross-sell opportunities or perhaps adding a Christmas specific category to your website.

Present your target products using eye-catching, clear and good quality images. Video could also help you show off your product or demonstrate it in use.

Tie in marketing to showcase your target products through social media, email marketing lists and any other marketing channels you use. Create a campaign around your seasonal products and consider using a campaign hashtag across all of your social channels. If you currently use paid advertising you might want to up your spending over the festive period. Make sure you use retargeting strategies to bring people back to your site who left without buying.

Integrate Sales Channels

As part of your merchandising strategy, you need to consider whether you want to expand your eCommerce presence to sell elsewhere. It’s often easier to sell to people where they spend their time. This could mean setting up your social media channels to link to your product catalogue. Or setting up eCommerce stores in online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.

We’d like to wish all of our eCommerce clients a successful festive period.

If you need help with your b2b eCommerce website, complete our contact form and we’ll be in touch.