11 steps to get your online store ready for 2018 holiday sales

Open season for eCommerce

Holiday sales can be the most lucrative for many business owners, especially if you run an online store. In fact, according to a variety of statistics, in 2018, holiday shopping via eCommerce is projected to increase 15.3 percent compared to the previous year.

But, if you want to make sure you get the most out of 2018 holiday sales, you need to prepare your online store first.

In this post, we’ll share tips for getting your online store ready for holiday sales that will help you boost conversions and improve customer satisfaction.

Related: How to sell stuff online — A comprehensive guide for eCommerce success

2018 Holiday Sales eCommerce
Photo: Brooke Lark on Unsplash

11 steps to prepare for 2018 holiday sales

Take the following steps to get your eCommerce shop in tip-top shape before this season’s holiday sales rush hits:

  1. Make a plan.

  2. Test your website performance.

  3. Optimize checkout.

  4. Sort out your inventory.

  5. Review your shipping and return policies.

  6. Make sure your site is up to date.

  7. Prepare marketing materials.

  8. Add bonus surprises and gift cards.

  9. Offer free shipping or guaranteed delivery date.

  10. Add an exit-intent opt-in form.

  11. Make sure you have trust signals.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

1. Make a plan

The first step is to make a plan and decide which holidays/shopping days you’ll participate in. Starting with Halloween, there are a number of holidays in the last quarter of the year and trying to participate in all of them might leave you feeling overwhelmed and burned out.

Consider using your store analytics to see which holidays made the most impact on your profit in previous years to give you a starting point.

However, make sure to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday as those two are the biggest sales days of the year for any business.

Related: 7 steps to increase holiday sales for your retail business

2. Test your website performance

You’ll need to test your website’s performance ahead of holiday sales and ensure it can handle an increase in traffic. You’ll also want to make sure your store loads fast to avoid losing customers.

You can use a tool like Pingdom Tools to test the speed of your website. Another tool you can use to test how your website handles traffic is Load Impact.

If you notice poor results, it might be time to upgrade your hosting plan.

Related: How to choose the best eCommerce hosting plan for your online store

3. Optimize checkout

A long and complicated checkout process can contribute to a high cart abandonment rate. Before holiday sales, take some time to optimize your checkout page. Here are a few tips that will help you out:

Implement a one-page checkout. Consider reducing the number of steps needed to complete the purchase and consolidating them to a single page.

Add a progress bar. Clearly show how many steps are left in the checkout process with a progress bar at the top of the page

Allow guest checkout. Consider allowing guest checkout during the holiday season to make sure no customer leaves your store because they can’t complete the purchase without making an account

Add alternative payment methods. While credit cards are the most common form of payment, add alternative payment methods such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet or even Bitcoin to accommodate shoppers who aren’t comfortable handing out their credit card information online

2018 Holiday Sales GoDaddy Online Store
GoDaddy’s all-in-one Online Store solution includes a variety of secure, built-in payment options. You can securely accept all major credit cards, PayPal and Apple Pay with both Square and Stripe for back-end payment processing.

4. Sort out your inventory

Next, you’ll want to go through your inventory and make sure that your most popular products are in stock. You can also group those products together on your home page by creating a special category called Best Sellers and promote it on social media. Be sure to also stock up on any items you’re currently selling so you don’t run out of stock during holiday sales.

5. Review your shipping and return policies

Review your shipping and return policies and make sure they are up to date. It’s also a good idea to assess your shipping providers and make any necessary changes well in advance to ensure a smooth and timely product delivery during holidays sales . This will help you avoid unsatisfied buyers and potential negative reviews.

Related: What you need to know about shipping for small business

6. Make sure your site is up to date

Go through your site and check that all content is still relevant and up to date. If you’re no longer selling an item, remove it from your store listings and archive those product pages. Check the information on your About page, ensure your contact information is current, and update the year in the footer of your site.

Related: Why updating your website matters for sales

7. Prepare marketing materials

No matter how much time you spend planning and preparing your store for holiday sales, it won’t make much of a difference if you don’t plan your marketing strategy as well. Make a plan for your holiday sales promotion, prepare graphics and social media posts as well as any additional content that you will post that will help you drive traffic to your site.

Related: How to use Canva to create branded images in less than an hour

8. Add bonus surprises and gift cards

2018 Holiday Sales Surprise

Consider adding incentives for your buyers like a bonus product for free when they spend a certain amount or giving them a discount for buying from a certain category. You can also add gift cards to accommodate late buyers and allow them to purchase a gift that will be instantly delivered to their loved ones.

Related: How to give away free stuff to boost online store sales

9. Offer free shipping or guaranteed delivery date

Getting products delivered on time is crucial when it comes to holiday shopping. As such, you’ll want to ensure that everybody knows the latest date an order can get shipped out so it can arrive before the holidays.

10. Add an exit-intent opt-in form

We all know having an email list is crucial for any business owner as it allows you to stay in touch with your customers and notify them about special deals and promotions. Add an exit-intent opt-in form that will show up when a visitor is about to abandon your site and offer them a 10-discount discount for signing up.

Related: Effective strategies to boost abandoned cart email conversion rates

11. Make sure you have trust signals

Lastly, make sure you have trust signals installed on your site. This includes:

This will help visitors feel safe and ensure them that their sensitive information will not be compromised, which can boost your conversion rate and improve your brand image.

Get your online store ready for holiday sales

When you take time to plan your holiday sales strategy in advance, you can see a significant increase in your overall profit as well as an increase in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Use the tips in this article to get your online store ready for holiday sales and improve your bottom line.

Image by: freestocks.org on Unsplash