eCommerce Christmas checklist

It's November 1st, giving you less than 8 weeks to get your ecommerce website optimised and your festive marketing in place before the Christmas rush. Nearly a quarter of sales in December are made online, so it's vital that your website is up to scratch and ready for the influx of customers that the holiday season will bring to your website.

Now, before you start to worry, these changes are only small and won't require too much time and effort from you and your team. Just a few minor checks and changes can dramatically improve your sales and make this your best Christmas ever.

​1, Review Previous Christmas Campaigns

Before you start any Christmas marketing, you should spend time reviewing what worked and what didn't work in previous years. Without analysing your previous campaigns, you could end up wasting precious time and money on marketing strategies which aren't effective for your store. Remember to check your engagement rates and click through rates, as well costs and conversion rates - even if a marketing option is getting a lot of clicks, without conversions it's useless. Make a list of each marketing option in order from most to least effective, then assign strict budgets and timelines to each. If you don't have any previous data, make sure to add detailed tracking to your website and marketing campaigns before you put any live. This will help you optimise your campaigns as they're running as well as improve your marketing for next year.

​2, Prepare your Marketing Content before December 1st

Check your festive marketing strategy (if you don't already have one, now is the perfect time to put one together) and get as much as you can ready before December 1st. With your staff rushed off their feet with more orders than ever, the last thing you want to be doing is remembering to tweet every day.

By scheduling your social content, you'll be able to free up time whilst still getting your customers to browse and check out your holiday offers. Facebook pages allow you to schedule posts straight from the page admin area, whereas Twitter users will need to use a separate system such as Tweetdeck. Scheduling Facebook posts and tweets is completely free and will save you a huge amount of time in the long-run. Prepare your blog posts, ads and email marketing campaigns well in advance and schedule them where you can - most services allow you to specify a exact start and end dates for your campaigns. These marketing avenues are perfect for targeting both new and existing customers, so remember to consider your website's key selling point and advertise anything which makes you stand out against your competitors.

​3, Create Holiday Specific Offers

As any ecommerce store owner will know, it's quite common that you won't be the only online retailer selling your style of products so giving unmissable offers and discounts is an easy way to stand out. Offering free express shipping or creating 3 for 2 multi-buy offers across your products is a perfect way to increase your average cart value and encourage customers to do all of their shopping in one place. All of your team should be up to speed with any offers or deals you'll be running over Christmas so that they can answer any questions from customers immediately.

Boots 3 for 2 Christmas gift offer

​4, Make your Website Accessible & Easy to Use

Nothing is more frustrating than when you find the perfect gift but the website won't cooperate - especially when you have the December 25th deadline looming overhead. Go through your website as if you were a customer a make note of anything which could be improved. Adding a search feature or making your store navigation clearer can make a huge difference for customers who are wanting to find a product in a rush. Take time to check your website on mobile devices too - mobile users accounted for 54% of traffic and over 31% of sales during the holiday period last year. If your website isn't mobile friendly yet then this is a definite must to be added to your 2018 to-do list.

It's also important to go through your checkout and payment processes and consider redesigning them, where possible, if you have too many steps or ask for too many details. If your customers are in a rush to make their purchase, they won't want to go through step after step adding unimportant details. Keep your checkout prcoess simple by only asking for vital information - do you really need their fax number and birthday? Offering guest checkout is a must around the Christmas season and, if you can, try to reduce your checkout into one simple page. If you'd like a hand giving your checkout a revamp or you have any usability issues you'd like to address, we'd love to help.

​5, Clear & Easy to Find Information Pages

As the month rolls on, you'll receive more and more enquiries about your delivery times and cut off dates. Make it extremely for your customers to find your delivery information by including a call to action or banner in obvious places, for example your homepage, website footer, product page or basket. List all of your available shipping options and prices, as well as clear cut off dates for guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.

With most December purchases being gifts, it's important to read over your returns policy to make it clear what products can / can't be returned, how long the customer has to return the product and how they submit a return. To make your customers even more likely to purchase from your store, consider extending your returns period for any purchase made in December.

Marks & Spencer Christmas cut off information

​6, Reward Customer Loyalty

It's very common for an ecommerce business to dedicate most (if not all) of its marketing budget to attracting new customers, when really you should be putting a great deal into retaining existing customers. Generally, repeat purchasers have around a 3 to 7 times higher revenue per visit than first time customers. Whilst it's great to be bringing in new customers, it's essential that you don't forget about your existing following - especially during arguably the most profitable month of the year.

Rewarding customer loyalty can be as small or as large a gesture as you'd like; as long as your customers know you've thought about them and appreciate their custom. Some ideas include:

  • Early access to Boxing Day and New Years Day sales
  • Free shipping for existing customers
  • Increased loyalty points for purchases made in December
  • Discount codes and increased offers for existing customers

​7, Check your Website Security & Hosting

Before December, it's important to check your previous years' traffic and usage statistics to make sure that your current hosting package can handle the amount of traffic you're expecting over the next couple of months. If you're worried about hitting your website hosting limits, speak to your hosting provider and ask if you can temporarily increase your allowance for December.

With an increased number of orders, it's very important that your website is safe and secure. Check with your web development team to make sure that you have the correct level of PCI compliance for the payment method you'll be using, and that your SSL certificate is valid and installed correctly. If you have any concerns about your website security or hosting, our team are on hand to give advice and make any necessary changes for you.

​8, Offer Extras & Gift Wrapping

Encourage your customers to increase their order value and choose you over your competitors by offering added extras. Simple changes like offering a free gift with orders over a certain amount or including an option for gift wrapping are easy ways to entice customers into spending a little more with you. Make these offers clear and in the customers line of sight by including them at the cart and checkout, as well as promoting them on your homepage and in marketing campaigns.

Feel Unique free samples & gifting options

​9, Consider Live Chat Support

Even if your customer service team are great at getting back to contact messages or replying to enquiry emails, adding live chat support for December can give you an edge over your competitors. Keep your live chat icon subtle but clear enough for shoppers to know that you're available if they need anything. Live chat support gives you a way to solve any problems or concerns before the customer leaves your site. The ability to chat to someone and get an instant response is very appealing to customers who are shopping in a run. It's understandable that not everyone can offer live chat support 24/7, so before you begin check your website analytics to find the most popular times for your store and arrange to cover at least those periods.

​Get in Touch

If you need help implementing any of these changes or you'd like advice on how to improve your store, send our team a message and we'll be more than happy to help. We wish you the best of luck and hope Christmas 2017 is a record breaker for you!

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