The holidays are quickly approaching, but it’s not too late for you to make the most of the big spending that happens during November and December. Before you face down the holiday rush, however, you must make sure you’re prepared for the influx of buyers. If you’re planning to simply do what you always do, you could find yourself overwhelmed and out of stock before Thanksgiving arrives.
Make Your List and Check It Twice
Before you start Thanksgiving and holiday promotions, make sure you follow a pretty in-depth checklist. The easy checklist reads something like:
- Additional inventory
- Up-to-date Google Product Listing Ads
- Additional staff
- Shipping supplies and costs covered
- Discounts and promotions set for deployment
- Personalized shopping experience enhancement
In reality, this is only the very top of the tree. Every point on the checklist needs to be broken down, which creates a whole new checklist for each. Let’s take a look at the additional tasks that may go into each of these components.
Your inventory count should take several factors into consideration. Do you have brick and mortar stores in addition to your ecommerce endeavors? The numbers sold in store may or may not correlate to those sold online. Numbers from previous years can help you determine the inventory needed for this year, but you’ll also need to consider the forecast for holiday spending.
Overall reports for 2013 say the outlook is cloudy, but don’t put all confidence in national data. Consider your local financial climate, too, especially if you already experience healthy local trade. Locations with strong economies could experience better holiday shopping numbers, and if you’re not prepared with the proper inventory, you could miss out on lucrative sales.
Up-to-Date Google Product Listing Ads
During every day of the shopping season, you’ll need to update your product listing files. These are the files that feed into the Google ad listings and direct customers back through your site after Google searches. If your listing leads to a page showing sold-out items, buyers won’t stick around to see what else you have. Not only will you have lost a sale on the item in question, but you’ll also pay for the click that led the potential buyer to your page.
If you can’t afford that kind of loss, you’ll need to make sure someone is available at least once per day to update your inventory within Google’s product listings. This leads to the next point on the list.
Keeping up with the influx of orders during the holiday season might just require additional staff. This isn’t as easy as finding someone on Craigslist and having them start the next day. Employment laws require paperwork for taxes and other legal reasons. Are you ready with the tax forms and employee policies? Do you have contracts ready for the time of employment so new hires know the extent of the assignment? These things will help you avoid trouble later in the form of audits or unemployment claims.
Amazon hired more than 70,000 employees to help with the holiday rush. You're requirements shouldn't be that high, but you don't want to be caught unable to fill users and unable to retain the customers you're acquiring in the holiday rush.
Your company should have boxes and wrap available at all times, especially if you plan to offer various shipping options. Customers expect packages to arrive within the specified time, and that can’t happen if you have to halt work to run to the post office for more boxes.
As an additional note, be sure your shipping costs are clearly noted on order review pages, especially if you’re offering special deals or additional options for the holiday season. It’s wonderful if you can offer overnight shipping to get gifts to purchasers on time, but not if you’re sneaky about the costs until after the consumer has clicked the purchase button. Nothing demolishes buyer trust faster.
Discounts and Promotions
The days leading up to Thanksgiving and then those immediately after are often the most popular for promotions, sales, and special offers. Because these could be what drive the most new business to your ecommerce site, the checklist for this particular task is the most detailed. You can, of course, choose the items that best fit your company.
- Product choice and CTA creation
- Create landing pages, making sure they’re ready for mobile devices
- Choose products for personalized recommendations
- Create copy for product descriptions and ads
- Develop email newsletters and campaigns
- Run tests on site and marketing to make sure everything runs well
- Experiment with all marketing until desired results are achieved
- Track all URLs to generate accurate metrics
As exhausting as the prep work may be for promotions, the return for your time and energy is always worth the cost.
Personalize the Experience
The additional influx of shoppers could break down your carefully cultivated reputation for personalized and customized service. Pay close attention to detail, especially when determining subject lines for emails, recommended products for return visitors and buyers, and greetings on every page of your site. You’ll be preparing new landing pages, writing new automated emails, and adding new contacts to social media by the hour, and a personal touch is required to inspire trust and prompt future purchases.
If you’re not already personalizing the shopper experience on your site, there’s still time to make changes. Marketing and ecommerce automation software can take care of much of the hard work, as long as you’re willing to take care of the rest. Remember that 74% of online shoppers are looking for experiences relevant to them as individuals. If you don’t provide that personal touch, they’ll go elsewhere.
Whew! Now you’re ready for the holiday season to commence. And don’t worry about when you’ll squeeze in much-needed rest. You can take January off along with the rest of the ecommerce world.