The start of the next “silly” season is just more than a month away. From Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s just a stones’ throw to the rest of the holiday season. Is your website ready?
Many stores (online and outlets) make up to 40% of their annual turnover in this last quarter of the year. The last thing you want is for your Ecommerce site to crash in the most important financial quarter of the year, just because your website maintenance wasn’t up to date.
And web maintenance isn’t the only thing you should be thinking about. Now is the time to start planning your marketing, your discounts and your deals, if you want to be ready in time to compete with all the holiday noise.
When should you prepare your website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Start today. You have a lot to do.
From updating your marketing and banners to making sure your shopping cart is prepped and your web host knows what’s coming for it, there is a lot to plan, organise and execute in the next few weeks.
Black Friday / Cyber Monday Strategy
Before you do anything else, you need to have a plan.
According to Google trends reports, many people start looking for Holiday gifts as early as August! The tradition of waiting in-store on Black Friday is evolving too, and many people prefer to do their promotional shopping online, from the comfort of their own devices (hence the emergence of cyber Monday).
This good news for online stores, but it also means that you need to be prepared.
Start by creating a holiday calendar, clearly outlining the sales days, so that you are never taken by surprise.
Next, decide which items you are going to be promoting, or how you would like your sales to run. Will you have a “buy two get one free” promotion? Or perhaps just a flat 10% discount across your store? Maybe this is a good opportunity to move stock that you’ve been sitting with for too long.
The minute you have your strategy planned, you need to start planning how you are going to tell the world about your promotions.
Share the news with your marketing team. The last thing you want is to have all your plans laid out and no one ever hears about it because your marketing team wasn’t ready with your new designs, banners and ads!
You want to update your website banners and social media banners to create a festive atmosphere, and make sure that visitors know that you’re participating in the holiday season, in the same way that you would decorate your store if you were operating from a brick and mortar premises.
Marketing assets to consider include:
Social Media Posts
Allocate a marketing budget, and schedule in your social media posts and AdWords well in advance.
Check your Web Functionality
If you have executed the first two steps effectively (planning and marketing) your website should start getting really busy, with visitors who are looking for great deals and great service, fast. That means there will be absolutely no time for hanging and glitches.
Ask your web host to update the memory on your dedicated server to ensure that your website can accommodate plenty of visitors at a time. Just like a small shop can only hold a few people, a limited memory can only support a few visitors at a time. Too many visitors on not enough memory will result in slow load times, dropped customers and general glitches.
Make sure your shopping cart is working perfectly.
Make sure that your SSL certificate is up-to-date.
Prepare your Physical Stock and Handling Mechanisms
Once the cyber side of your Ecommerce store is ready for the holidays you need to make sure that you can deliver on your promises.
Make sure that you’re warehouses are well stocked, especially with your promotional items.
If you operate by drop-shipping, communicate to your suppliers what your plans are so that they can be prepared.
If you own your own warehouses and stock, make sure you know exactly what’s sitting in stock, make sure your staff trained and hire in extra staff with enough time to train them.
Contact your couriers and ensure that they are prepared for the influx of new orders.
Prep your customer support and service teams.
Plan your returns policy and procedures in advance, in case you have to deal with returns.
Plan out your return policy and procedures in advance, so you don’t run into any hiccups.
Data and Analytics
We’ve said it before and we will say it again, data is your friend.
If you’ve been through a holiday season before, then now is the time to pull out your records and see what happened before. This can help you to capitalize on your successes and avoid obstacles.
Even if you haven’t, this is a good time to take a look at your web analytics. Make sure your reports are up to date so that when the holiday season is over you will have something to compare it to.
Make sure that someone has the dedicated job of saving weekly metrics and reports throughout the holiday season (from the Halloween to the end of Christmas Holidays).
At the very least you should be tracking the following metrics:
Most popular landing pages
Average Order Value
Cost per Acquisition
Cart abandonment Rate
Most Popular Products
Least Popular Products
High Exit Points
For more details on what metrics to track (and why) see our article on which metrics you should be tracking daily.
So, take your pencils, get your team together, and get your holiday season planned out today.