Commercetools

10 Simple Steps to Ready Your eCommerce Business for the Winter Holidays

10 Simple Steps to Ready Your eCommerce Business for the Winter Holidays

An exciting period is approaching not only for regular individuals but also for owners of e-commerce stores. Over the past few years, holiday shopping has evolved and is becoming increasingly popular.

In this article, I will guide you on how to prepare your online store for winter shopping. This will help boost your conversion rate, and of course, implementing my advice will positively impact your profit margins.

A bit of statistics: for all winter holidays, including (but not limited to) Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, New Year’s Eve, and other holidays around the Winter Solstice.

  • Holiday shoppers in the United States are expected to spend $961.96 billion in 2023. Projections suggest that by 2030, the total spending on winter holidays will reach $1.271 trillion.

  • Taking into account travel and entertainment expenses, the average American consumer spends $1,530 throughout the holiday season.

Examining these figures, it becomes evident that during the winter holidays, consumers tend to be more lenient with their spending and may sometimes exceed their planned budgets.

E-commerce business owners should grasp this process and leverage it to their advantage. Making specific updates to your stores can attract consumers to choose their products.

So, what updates should be implemented to attract consumers during the winter holiday season?

  • Analyze the last season

This is an obvious but crucial step. Gather as much analytics as possible from the previous holiday season. Did you have enough inventory? Did you lose customers due to poor customer service? Make sure you're not repeating the same mistakes. Address the errors that occurred in the past season and strategically prepare everything necessary for quality customer service this season.

  • Focus on a few key dates

You can't always be everywhere, and the same goes for your online store. Choose which holidays to optimize for and do it as best as you can. Perhaps you'd prefer to capitalize on Small Business Saturday's success rather than compete with giants on Cyber Monday. Or maybe you want to unveil some exclusives right before Black Friday.

  • Enhance website functionality

Ensuring your website operates smoothly is a key preparation step. Users desire a seamless holiday shopping experience, so it's crucial to ensure that your website can handle an increase in traffic. Avoid making any significant changes to the website and conduct a speed check, as customers prefer sites that load quickly.

According to research by Think with Google, load times of one to three seconds can result in a 32% increase in the likelihood of users leaving the page. This percentage jumps to 90% after five seconds. This applies to your mobile site as well. A Google experiment revealed that participants dealing with slow-loading websites quickly became frustrated.

  • Review and Rectify Broken Links

Encountering a 404 page after clicking a link can be highly frustrating. However, despite its annoyance, broken links are a common occurrence. Therefore, it's advisable to develop the habit of routinely examining your website for broken links.

You don't necessarily have to do this manually. Visit BrokenLinkCheck.com and input your website's URL. The tool will assess your website, allowing you to identify and address any broken links.

  • Update Your Website Product Photos

An effortless way to give your website a holiday makeover is by updating your website images. This includes images of yourself as well as any other visuals used for full-width backgrounds, services, or blog posts.

If you're currently thinking, "But, I don't have the time to take a bunch of new photos!"—no need to worry, I understand.

The great news is that you don't have to. One of the most beneficial decisions I've made for my business was investing in a stock photo membership.

This not only provides me with an extensive library of photos for use throughout my website but also saves me time when scheduling social media posts.

My preferred stock photo membership is Adobe Stock.

Whether you're in search of a stock photo, striking vector image, HD video clips, or an Adobe Photoshop template, Adobe Stock provides the ideal stock images, videos, and more to assist you in conveying your narrative.

  •  Evaluate Site Performance

When implementing updates on your website, it's advisable to delve into your analytics to assess its effectiveness.

This will provide valuable information about the keywords people use to search for your offerings, the sources directing them to your site, their geographic origin, popular content types, and more.

For this, I recommend diving into Google Analytics. Additionally, reviewing the Google Search Console report can offer additional insights into how your content is performing. Here are a few additional tips:

  1. Install a tool on your website that showcases the Customer Journey Map. Using a tool like Hotjar, you can understand the paths customers take on your website, identify areas where they may struggle and need improvement, and pinpoint aspects for enhancement to improve customer convenience.
  2. Also, check your website's speed using tools like Pingdom to ensure optimal performance.  
  • Evaluate Your Calls To Action

Examine each page on your website and assess your calls to action—the language utilized on your buttons and links.

Are they somewhat dull and uninteresting, or do they grab attention and motivate visitors to take action? If you find your calls to action a bit lackluster, now is the opportune moment to refresh them. Additionally, ensure they direct users to the correct pages on your website to prevent any broken links.

  • Update Your Website Design

If you're still dissatisfied with how your website looks and you objectively assess that it's not as appealing as you'd like it to be for consumers, consider updating your website design.

You can even add aesthetic holiday elements to enhance its festive appeal. Change your website's color scheme to reflect winter and holiday themes. Incorporate seasonal colors like red, green, and white.

Add winter-themed graphics, banners, and images to evoke a holiday feel.

If you're using platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce, you can leverage template solutions.

These platforms offer a vast array of themes for your website. If you need assistance integrating a template design into your online store or require help with developing a custom solution, feel free to reach out to us. Our developers can swiftly decorate your store for the winter holidays and attract new customers.

In our previous article, you can also find ideas for inspiration to update your website design.

  • Streamline for a smoother checkout and shipping process
  1. Opt for a single-page checkout;
  2. Enable guest checkout functionality;
  3. Request information only once;
  4. Accept various payment methods.

Keep an eye on cart abandonment rates, as the Baymard Institute discovered that worldwide purchases were abandoned 70.91% of the time. Combat this by implementing cart abandonment emails to entice customers back. Be mindful that unexpected shipping costs can lead customers to abandon their purchases.

Moreover, if feasible, offering free shipping is a lucrative option. The Baymard Institute also revealed that 48% of online shoppers abandon their carts if the shipping costs are too high.

Consider going the extra mile by providing gift-wrapping services or including a personalized note in your shipments, if manageable. These thoughtful touches can distinguish you from other retailers.

Even incorporating a festive color into your shipping boxes can add a delightful touch to the holiday season.

Additionally, don't forget about the importance of integrating payment methods. Our previous article unveiled all the secrets and crucial aspects related to payment methods in e-commerce.

  • Introduce Seasonal Promotions

Create special holiday promotions, discounts, or bundled deals to entice visitors. Use holiday-themed banners or pop-ups to highlight these promotions on your website.

For example: 

Holiday Discounts

  • Offer special discounts or promo codes for holiday-themed products or services
  • Create "12 Days of Deals" with different promotions each day leading up to a specific holiday.

Free Shipping

  • Provide free shipping for orders placed during the winter season
  • Set a minimum order amount to qualify for free shipping

Limited-Time Offers

  • Create urgency by offering limited-time promotions, like flash sales or hourly discounts
  • Use countdown timers to emphasize the limited availability of the promotion

Gift with Purchase

  • Offer a gift with a minimum purchase amount
  • Customize the gift to align with winter or holiday themes

Referral Discounts

  • Implement a referral program where customers receive discounts for referring friends or family
  • Offer extra incentives for referrals made during the winter season

Advent Calendar Deals

  • Create a digital advent calendar with daily or weekly surprises and discounts
  • Encourage customers to check back regularly for new promotions

Winter Clearance Sale

  • Offer significant discounts on winter-specific products as the season progresses
  • Clear out seasonal inventory to make way for new arrivals

Virtual Events or Workshops

Host virtual events or workshops related to winter activities

Offer exclusive promotions to attendees of these events.

Summary

The winter holidays are a fantastic season for e-commerce. However, to significantly boost your income during the winter holidays, thorough preparation is essential. I sincerely hope that my tips will assist you in your winter trading, and I wish you tremendous holiday sales!

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