Many schools are back in session, and Christmas will be here before you know it. Preparing your website for Christmas now will give you time to work the bugs out of new features. It will also allow you to offer early sales to Christmas shoppers, ensure that you have enough stock to satisfy the needs of your customers and give you time to plan out your marketing strategy. Most online retailers are busiest between November and February, so starting early and planning well will allow you to take advantage of the entire shopping season.
Plan Well in Advance
One of the most important aspects of running a successful eCommerce website is planning. Spend the next week or two thinking about what goals you would like to accomplish this holiday season and the best way to accomplish your goals. There may be a new group of shoppers you are trying to reach or maybe you would like to improve sales of certain products. The holiday season is a great time to offer discounts on certain products or give your customers the opportunity to order gift cards or gift certificates to give as gifts to friends and family. If you are starting a new ad campaign, make sure that you buy all of the ads you will be running during the holiday season by the middle of October. Holiday ads space sells quickly, so buying early is essential.
It is difficult to know exactly how your customers will react to a new ad campaign. Starting your campaign early in the year will give you time to make adjustments if customers are not responding as well as you had hoped. You may also need to make changes if customer response is higher than anticipated. Your website may not be able to handle the load being placed on it by a sudden increase in traffic. Signing up with a reputable hosting service a month or two before the holiday rush is smart because they will fix any problems you encounter. There are few things worse than spending hours changing your website to fit a new marketing campaign and then having your customers not be able to use your site. Hosting is generally inexpensive, and it pays to buy more space than you think you will ever need.
Testing your site and having people you know test your site is essential. Most retailers spend hours updating their sites before the holiday season, but those hours are wasted if they make your site unusable. Start testing your site as soon as you make changes. Ask someone you trust to look for certain products or information and see how long it takes them to find it. Experimenting with site changes in September will give you time to figure out what works on your site and fix anything that doesn’t work before most customers are trying to use it.
Offer Sales Early
Offering customers early sales will help you attract new customers. It will also help you gauge the amount of stock you will need for the next few months and give customers plenty of time to receive their gifts without being forced to pay for expedited shipping. Another advantage of starting your holiday sales early is that you will have plenty of time to fix any issues your site may have as traffic increases. Many customers shop for Christmas right after school starts, so starting your sales early will ensure that you attract the attention of early shoppers as well as those who wait until December to purchase gifts.
Offering customers something extra for the holiday seasons is a smart move. Some retailers offer free shipping during the month on November, while others offer gift wrapping or a personalized letter from Santa with each gift. You could also send a personalized Christmas card with each gift. Some retailers even give customers the option of registering their Christmas wish list so that friends and family will know exactly which products they want. Just make sure that you don’t offer something that you would be unable to provide if you had a large influx of orders suddenly. Trust is vital in online retailing, and customers won’t trust your company if you make promises and don’t follow through.
Order Extra Stock
E-Commerce is an ever-changing industry, and you may not be able to predict which items will be most popular with your customers. It is essential to order extra stock of as many items as possible. There are few things worse for customers than saving up money to purchase a special gift, only to discover that the item they wanted is sold out and won’t be available until after the holidays. One benefit of starting your holiday planning early is that you will have more time to analyze the buying habits of your customers and you may be able to order extra stock of an in-demand item before your suppliers are completely sold out.
Ramp up Your Marketing
Now is the time to get your name out to customers so they will think of your company when they begin Christmas shopping in the coming months. Some retailers market through email, while other focus more on search-engine optimization or social media. The most important thing is to get your products and company name into the minds of as many consumers as possible. Starting early is a great way to ensure that you will reach as many customers as possible before they have finished shopping for the holidays.
About the Author
OnlineClock.net want everyone to prepare in advance for the coming Christmas season. That’s why they’ve created their online countdown to Christmas at http://countdown.onlineclock.net/countdowns/christmas/ Use the Christmas Countdown for free on the Online Clock website to keep all of your Xmas planning on-track !