How to prepare for the holidays like the pros

Prepare-your-online-shop-now-and-benefit-when-the-season-arrives

If you’ve been to the grocery store this week, odds are a chocolate Santa or gingerbread man made you murmur “Jiminy Christmas, it’s too soon!” We think so too. But do you know what it’s not too soon for? Preparing your holiday shop for the impending holiday madness.

A simple banner replacement won’t do the trick. The holidays are one of the hottest times for selling – you have every right to maximize on this opportunity. All you have to do is follow a few manageable protocols, which we have listed below in one handy ultimate holiday guide.

12 days of marketing:

1- Trends: tis the season for trendy gift giving! Now is the time to begin compiling your images and text for potential gift items. You might even consider revising product descriptions to include information such as age groups or hobby recommendations. Include searchable keywords and language that inspires gift-giving. Pay attention to customer segmentation: what are specific customer groups looking for this holiday season? Rely on social networks to conduct this kind of research; especially Facebook and Pinterest.

2- Multichannel: select products that can also sell well on other channels such as eBay, Amazon, Google Shopping, etc.

3- SEM/SEO: design holiday search engine marketing campaigns using combinations of important keywords such as “coupon”, “gift”, and “gift ideas”. If you build it (meaning optimize your landing page), they will come...

4- Mobile: …but only if you are mobile optimized. According to Google’s new algorithm, responsive design is a must. Google will actually penalize your store if it isn’t mobile ready. Plus, now that over 40% of shoppers use mobile devices to make purchases, responsive optimization plays a crucial role in creating conversion. If you are already using Shopware 5, you can sleep well at night knowing you’re backed by a responsive template that comes default with the software.

5- Curated shopping: when possible, integrate a function for gift suggestions; i.e. particular target groups (spouse, neighbor, family you never see outside of the holidays, etc.). When putting together product suggestions, Shopware’s new feature, Product Streams, can be particularly useful.

6- Payment and logistics: while time is still on your side, optimize your payment and risk management. Be sure to offer the payment methods preferred by your target groups and test your returns management. During the holidays, customer service must be full sail ahead! Ensure that your shipment alerts are completely organized with your customers –tracking information is especially important to customers during the holidays. Ensure that you have enough staff to handle the increased shipping load. You also might want to consider extending return deadlines; this gives your customers a sense of security amidst the hectic holiday bustle.

7- Reviews: if you have a customer review function, start soliciting more customer reviews. Consider offering sweepstakes for reviews. Testimonials can be particularly useful on Facebook, where peer recommendations have a particularly strong influence. The ultimate goal is to strengthen your reviews leading up to Christmas. Harness the persuasive power of the shopping season!

8- Goodies: consider providing especially large holiday orders with a special goodie. For instance, large orders could be sent with a holiday ornament or greeting card. Should this be the case, now would be the time to order your holiday freebies so that they’re ready when the time comes. Also consider free shipping for holiday orders. You might also want to include special packaging for holiday orders – should this be the case, order your materials now.

9- Facebook & Co.: the holidays penetrate social media networks – for shoppers, this is a great outlet for stumbling across gift ideas or sharing recommendations. This is also where shoppers come in direct contact with companies and online shops. So take a look into your niches and prepare to get active on social media.

10- Communication: holiday shoppers already have enough stress on their hands – they do not want added friction from their gift suppliers. Fluid communication is essential. Be mindful of your available communications channels and if necessary, bring in additional reinforcement to ensure the customer is always in focus. Delegate specific tasks to employees to be sure all your bases are covered.

11- Campaigns: now is the time to begin preparing for upcoming marketing campaigns. Start preparing incentives that you can promote via social networks, as well as the possibility of participating in popular shopping sprints such as Cyber Monday or Black Friday.

12- Statistics: learn from your past. If your shop has been operating for several years, be sure to consider your statistics from previous holiday trials. This will give you an idea of what keywords, products and promotions are worthy of bringing back this season.

Santa’s technological helpers:

1- Performance check: are the applications running in your shop cost effective? If you hesitated answering that, shut the applications in question down. Cut the dead weight and make the holiday shopping season your priority.

2- Hosting: check with your hosting provider if there are any possible bottlenecks in the system. Be sure the hosting infrastructure can handle your expected traffic; be sure you have a backup; be sure their support is available during the holiday season. Remember: a slow or non-performant website (the dreaded 503 error) will lead to your holiday demise. An astonishing 46% of online shoppers would abandon your store page load takes longer than 3 seconds. Holiday cheer!

3- No more fidgeting: under no circumstances should you make changes to your live shop. The risk of something going awry is far too large.

4- Contact: in the event something does go wrong, you should have an emergency contact – like a medical ID card – so that the problem can be addressed as soon as possible. This carries from hosting to development.

5- Caching: use the available caching resources in your shop and be sure they are always warm. Caches roasting by an open fire. 

There you have it, guys & gals! Our ultimate list for mastering the holidays. Drop us a line and let us know what you think. We are always happy to chat about clever holiday marketing strategies! 

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