If you want your eCommerce store to be ready for the holiday season, you should start preparing as soon as possible.
Preparing Your Magento eCommerce Store For The 2017 Holiday Season
All ten of the biggest US online shopping days are in November and December. But it’s not enough to rest on your laurels while customers come rolling in. To have a truly great holiday season, you should begin preparations well in advance. At the latest, I advise eCommerce retailers to start putting together their plans for the holiday season at the midpoint of the year. There’s a lot of work to be done.
1. Start With The Data
Take a look at your store’s performance during last year’s holiday season. Consider sales, stock levels, any order fulfillment problems that arose, and particularly think about how well your eCommerce store performed under what was almost certainly its peak load for the year.
Ideally, you should consider last year’s holiday season as a pessimistic forecast of performance for the coming year. Take the traffic and sales levels as a baseline, and prepare for an increase in sales. Adjust inventory planning accordingly.
Did your fulfillment providers perform well last year. If not, you should leave plenty of time to move to a different provider or add additional capacity.
If your eCommerce store suffered from performance degradations during the holiday season, now’s the time to do something about it. One of the most disheartening experiences an eCommerce store owner can have is for their store to fall over on the busiest shopping period of the year because it has insufficient resources. Consider upgrading to a more powerful server if you suspect there might be problems — it’s always better to have redundant capacity than conspicuously poor performance.
2. Analyze Your Conversion Process
Slower periods are a great opportunity for some extensive A/B testing. By the holiday season, your store should be a well-oiled conversion machine. In the months before, take a good look at the conversion process, develop hypotheses for potential improvements, test them with a small proportion of shoppers, and iterate.
3. Prepare Your Promotions
You should develop ideas for holiday promotions early in the year. Begin to conceptualize promotions, and develop a calendar of promotions so you have timeline of the assets you need in place.
At the very least, you should be thinking about the design and creation of the following:
- Landing pages
- Product copy and images
- Advertising strategies, including PPC assets and copy
- Content marketing strategies to support promotions and seasonal sales
- Creative assets — banner ads, promo banners, themed images and page design
- Email newsletters to publicize promotions
- Press releases
When you’re thinking about seasonal promotions, don’t forget about “early bird shoppers”. Many shoppers prepare for Christmas in the summer and early Fall — smart eCommerce retailers are prepared with promotions to capture their interest.
Preparations for the holiday season shouldn’t be a panicked rush at the beginning of Fall. Leave yourself plenty of time and maybe you’ll get through to January without (too much) stress.
About Graeme Caldwell — Graeme works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog, https://blog.nexcess.net/.
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