eCommerce Holiday Readiness, Part Two: Is Your Website Optimized for the Holiday Rush?

Holiday Readiness Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of our eCommerce Holiday Readiness blog series! If you missed our first post, read it here.

When you’re an online retailer, the holiday season is all about “more.” More customers are searching for more products, and each day is more hectic than the one before. If you have any doubts about your eCommerce platform, now is the time to improve it – there won’t be any breathing room between Black Friday and the New Year. Read on to get our take on how to get more out of this holiday season.

It’s All in the Numbers

It’s not just anecdotal or assumed; there is data pointing to this being a hugely busy year for eCommerce. EMarketer recently gave both its own projections and those from Kantar Retail, and they agree: 2016 is a boom year for online sales growth. The prediction stands at a 15.9% expansion from last year, which was 14.8% ahead of 2014’s numbers.

Not only will the holiday season be bigger than ever, but eMarketer added it is also set to make up nearly a quarter of all eCommerce sales for the year as a whole. That means impressing shoppers during this short period could make your numbers for the year – whereas falling short of expectations could break them.

Optimize for the Rush

So, what should you be doing to prepare for the holidays? There are a few elements of eCommerce websites that customers will be looking at with particular intensity. If they’re not impressed, the effects could be hugely damaging.

  • Special landing pages: Do you have content ready to go for the holidays and specialized pages that will display your top items in ways that are both search-friendly and helpful to browsing shoppers? If not, this is an early step in preparing your site for the seasonal rush. Econsultancy listed a potentially surprising way to improve your landing pages’ reach during the holidays: Keep them active all year long. If you take down your specialized holiday content when the season ends, you may be leading searchers to broken links. Whether you post holiday-centric web content – as well as how you manage it – may determine whether a significant number of curious shoppers ever find you at all.
  • Mobile promotions: When it’s time to promote the brand, will users respond? It may come down to picking the right channel. Chain Store Age recommended focusing on mobility, as up to one-third of customers will use a mobile device to shop this year. Whether your company is an online or brick-and-mortar operation, mobile devices are a strong link between you and your shoppers. EMarketer framed mobile domination another way: More than half of traffic to eCommerce sites in the 2015 holiday season came from either phones or tablets, with smartphones owning a 39% share. That’s a huge audience that could respond well to specialized and targeted offers. No matter what, your mobile features must be able to cope with increased usage and demand. Failure to prepare may lose you business.
  • Checkout pages: When all’s said and done, better checkout procedures aren’t a holiday thing. Rather, they’re not JUST a holiday thing. Improving the payment and shipping selection experience on your site will have positive effects well into the new year and beyond. It’s best to make sure all improvements are in place before the holiday rush if you want your site to be firing on all cylinders during those high-volume days. CIO delved into the benefits that can come from improving checkout efficiency. Namely, by cutting down on confusing features around this process, companies can prevent losing the surprisingly large portion of the customer base that refuses to deal with inconvenient procedures. Simple actions, such as streamlining payment options and enabling checkout without creating an account, can help keep consumers fully engaged.
Set the Tone with Website Readiness

Will this holiday season be a triumph or a missed opportunity? When you’re working on getting your eCommerce site and underlying platform ready for the months ahead, you may go a very long way toward answering this question. With online buying numbers on a relentless upward trajectory, these web portals are the face of your company. Making improvements now not only gets you ready for the busiest time of the year, but it also sets a great tone for everything that follows, giving your products an ideal showcase.

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