With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many businesses to close and some companies to file bankruptcy, this year has certainly been unlike any other. As changes affect nearly every industry, many businesses are wondering what the holiday shopping season will look like when it comes to holiday eCommerce.
Luckily, many companies have found ways to pivot, providing online shopping options as a way to survive the COVID-19 related lockdowns. And some businesses even saw a boom during the pandemic as consumers spent more time at home and bought products like at-home athletic equipment and video games. So how exactly can you prepare your business for the holiday shopping season? We recommend the following holiday readiness tips:
Guarantee a Successful User Experience
Today’s customers want a personalized experience when they are holiday shopping online. In order to ensure that your eCommerce business has a successful holiday season, your online store needs to have a solid infrastructure, updated third-party integrations, and industry-leading uptime. There are a few ways you can update your eCommerce site to exceed customers' expectations during the holiday season.
First, we recommend evaluating your overall eCommerce store and using your website design to create a personalized experience for customers. Test your infrastructure to guarantee your eCommerce store can handle a surge in traffic and transactions if needed. Check your site speed to ensure your page load time is under three seconds so you avoid high bounce rates. Evaluate your third-party integrations and keep them up to date. We also recommend updating your merchandising strategy to showcase your holiday products and personalize your offerings to your customers.
Streamline the Checkout Process
By the time a customer has reached your checkout page, they have already decided that they want to purchase one of your products, according to customer “readiness to buy” metrics. So, you should streamline your checkout process to keep your customer from leaving the site before completing the purchase. We recommend creating a smooth and seamless checkout process: you should only have one checkout page, allow for guest checkout, and provide multiple payment options.
You can have all of your checkout-related forms on one page to make the process quick and easy for customers. Loading one page versus multiple pages can be a game-changer for your buyers, especially if they are using mobile devices. The holiday shopping experience is all about customer satisfaction, and one checkout page will boost their happiness (and willingness to shop)!
We also recommend enabling anonymous checkouts, especially for first-time customers who may not feel comfortable saving their information on your eCommerce store. Additionally, allowing multiple payment options ensures that your customer can check out with their payment method of choice, whether it’s PayPal, Venmo, or American Express.
Strategize Shipping and Fulfillment
In order to truly create a great customer experience strategy, you need to develop a clear method for shipping and fulfilling orders.
If you want to keep up with the holiday rush, you’ll need enough product to fulfill orders. You might be wondering, “Should we stock up with inventory ahead of the holiday season?” During the holiday season, you will likely experience an increase in orders, so we recommend researching and testing your markets early, especially if you are planning on selling internationally. Your customers’ buying habits should be an integral part of your research and planning, whether you are selling in the U.S. or abroad.
To prepare for heightened traffic and sales during the holiday season, you should determine how you will handle shipping and fulfillment. You have three common options:
No matter which path you choose, you’ll need to automate your shipping process.
We also recommend having a clear refund and return policy, especially during the holiday season. In some categories, like clothing and apparel, up to 30% of all online purchases are returned. Consumers prefer to buy from companies with seamless return and exchange policies. Making refunds and returns simple boosts your customer satisfaction and benefits your operations. We recommend having an extended return window around the holiday season, usually until the end of January, to ensure that customers have time to return gifts if needed.
Your most important goal should be to make sure that your customers are satisfied during the holiday season so they will remain loyal to you in the years to come. That’s why we recommend optimizing your eCommerce store with strategic holiday marketing and using promotional strategies to engage customers, increase overall sales, and keep your customers happy.
If you want to learn more about holiday eCommerce, holiday templates for pages, and how to be successful this holiday season, discover what the best POS system for retail can do for you!