Holiday shopping season is upon us. According to emarketer, digital sales are expected to hit $95 Billion this year during Holidays. There is plenty that could go wrong. How do you get ready for the heavy traffic you might see? Is your online store ready to make the most of it? What are some of the ways to ensure that the ecommerce site or the online store you run is buffered against the unpredictable – unfortunate turn of events and is doing all it can to handle virtual footfalls. Let’s find out.
#Optimize Your Site For Holiday Sales
Does your site look all Christmassy yet? You need to jazz it up for the occasion. Display the fast moving items prominently. Classifying gift items under ‘Shop By Recipient’ category is a neat idea wherein you can showcase gift suggestions for Granny, Dad, Mom, Wife, Husband, Son, Daughter- more family and friends. Make sure you put a product and all its variables (different colors and sizes) at one place. Move inventory through combo deals and clearance sales. Display the discounts and other interesting offers prominently. And yes, make sure your site loads up fast. You don’t want your customers to go away just because the pages of your site don’t load up fast enough.
#Use Learnings From Last Year’s Sales
Chances are this isn’t your first Christmas at your online store. Remember the campaigns and the marketing channels that worked for you last year? Concentrate on getting the similar set up going for you this year. Things do not change much. Remember the items that flew off your virtual shelves last year? Stock them up this year in advance. Any particular pain point your customers felt stuck at then? Ease it now. Double down on smoothening the things that hindered a successful completion of a customer’s journey last year. Similarly, learn from this year-to do better next year.
# Let CRM Stars Helm The Affairs
You need to step up your customer relationship game a notch or two during the holiday rush. Issues need to be solved at their earliest. Put your star performers at helm. Hire more hands if necessary. Customers prefer live chat. Make sure you provide live chat support to as many as possible. Live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channels 73% of customers want their problems to be solved as soon as possible and they opt for a Live chat support, 61% opt for emails and 44% for phone. Live chat can save sales. Have canned messages ready for faster resolution.
#Double Check Security of Your Website
The process of securing your site starts that day you start coding for it. Follow the best practices. Make sure sensitive information of your customers remains safe. Invest in a good vulnerability management software which has automated tests built in and performs cyclical monitoring tasks to identify and remedy threats. There could be threats of malware, hackers, or viruses. Stay PCI compliant and ensure all your security certifications including SSL certificate are in order and up-to-date. Use Https especially on pages that store and transfer customer data. Go for DoS and DDoS protection with the help of well configured firewalls. Application Gateways protect your network. Ecommerce sites should always have application gateways installed. Use trustmarks on check out page. In short, go for industry leading security solutions. It will keep you and your customers safe. It can then be one of your selling points.
#Have a Good Content Marketing Strategy
Content Marketing Strategy for your Holiday rush requires attention to detail. Needless to say, you should plan it all in advance. Sit with the designers and copywriters to design all the collaterals you want to use in emails, on your site and on your social media accounts. Are you promoting your discounted goods sufficiently? Are you using all the channels available to you? Are the blogs promoting the store? Is the frequency of push notifications/ email reminders/ SMSs just right? Don’t annoy your customers. You need to have a winning strategy to address the issue of shopping cart abandonment. Be quick in apologising and in sending personalised apology emails- may save you a few sales.
#Renegotiate Your Shipping Charges
Shoppers love free shipping. You should certainly have some items at your store which you ship for free. See if you can re-negotiate rates with shipping services for the holidays rush. You may get a holiday discount there if you start early and talk with their reps. It is important to calculate your sales tax and shipping cost etc. correctly or you could be in trouble down the line when you file your taxes. Don’t make money on shipping but don’t lose money on it either, unless of course you are making up for it in some way. Offer them free returns. It is a small price to pay to keep them happy. You can opt for shipping and tracking management solutions that ease your life to a great extent.
#Go For More Server Space
Are you ready to handle heavy traffic on your site? Customers expect 100% up time from your site. You can leverage cloud solutions to manage traffic spikes. Opt for horizontal scalability which enables you access to servers of required configuration on demand. The auto scaling feature of the cloud solutions ensures outages are kept away. Configure your systems to send alerts to key stakeholders when server utilization reaches about 75%. That way you have enough time to deploy your pre-configured stacks.
#Choose Vendors Carefully
During the holiday shopping rush you will be shooting from all the guns – so to speak. You need to have the right team of vendors to back you up. Most of the times vendors are selected on the basis of volume discount pricing- but this alone shouldn’t be your criteria for selecting a vendor at this important juncture. Good vendors replenish your shelves as efficiently as possible when the goods start flying off the shelves. They should have the required flexibility with their minimum and maximum order quantity requirements.
# Use Right Tools
You would need to track too many metrics and numbers to optimize your processes. You cannot have too much or too little stock. You cannot spend too much on stocks. You need to manage your inventory. You need to set up reorder points. You need to forecast demands. There should be low stock alerts and triggers in place. There is plenty that goes on. To be on top of everything ensure you have right tools in place. Right tools and systems ensure that you are able to use your resources optimally.
These are a few pointers from my desk. May you have good sales. Merry Christmas !