E-Commerce Tips

E-Commerce Holiday Readiness: Checklist and Tips

With Black Friday & Cyber Monday just around the corner, it’s time for eCommerce merchants to start prepping and get ready for hordes of shoppers visiting your site. It goes without saying that, in order to be ahead of your competition, your eCommerce site must stand out above the rest.

88% of online shoppers say they wouldn’t return to a website after having a bad user experience

As online merchants, holiday seasons are understandably a critical time for your business, which is why here at SimiCart we have made a necessary checklist and tips for your eCommerce site.

1. Campaigns and Promotions

Besides the obvious bits regarding front-end changes such as a lively landing page and a fitting homepage for the holiday, eCommerce merchants also need to develop their own campaigns and promotions in order to push more sales. 

Revolve your strategy around last-minute shoppers

Holiday shoppers often consist of multitudes of types. The best type, who’s likely to be your target customer, is the last-minute shoppers. By customizing your eCommerce site to meet the needs of this type of customer, you’re guaranteed to be able to generate more sales than ever.

Google Holiday shopper statistics

Shipping options

During holiday seasons, your shipping options should be more varied, as well as your checkout page less clustered. Options such as last-minute delivery should be included in order to grant your last-minute shoppers opportunities of gifting that can’t be found elsewhere.

Data last minute shopper statistics

Sense of urgency and scarcity

Holiday shoppers and especially last-minute shoppers are more prone to be affected by the perceived psychological effect of urgency and scarcity.

By implementing simple strategies such as shopping recommendations and targeted pop-ups, merchants can cast the fear of missing out, eliciting an immediate response from visitors. This will also effectively help reinforce your product message by allowing email service providers (ESPs) to orchestrate retargeting campaigns.

Amazon product page

Tailored experience

Tailored experience is the hot and slowly becoming a common practice nowadays. Seeing as the needs for it is huge, it’s to be expected that this will be the norm in the future.

“Eighty-three percent of more than 5,000 consumers said they consistently needed some type of support during their online shopping. Thirty-one percent of them need online support immediately, while 40% of them require assistance within five minutes. — LivePerson

One commonly held initiative to tailored customer experience between influential and well-doing brands are chatbots, and it’s actually quite simple: Shoppers are asked about which products do they have in mind.

Just like a brick-and-mortar store where a salesperson is assigned to new customers to help them in their purchasing journey, a chatbot that was preprogrammed to ask for new customer’s input can do wonder in the eCommerce industry.

In fact, it’s doing too well. Ironically, a real person now would have to prove to the customer that he or herself is real in order to start helping customers in their buying journey.

Example human chat bot

To be ahead of your competition, it’s important that you adopt new and effective initiatives that could fit in with your store’s overall structure. With tailored experience, it’s hard to go wrong as it’s widely adopted everywhere and in forms that you wouldn’t have expected such as product recommendations   

Ramp-up your social channels

In this day and age, you can’t just do things without letting the world know that you’re doing things.

Holiday seasons are high time for your business to start socializing and pushing engaging content that you know your customers want. One often-made mistake is that companies use the same marketing strategy for all of their social channels, and while this might work for smaller eCommerce stores, it doesn’t for ones whose social channels are big since repeated content can create a bad impression on your devoted followers.

“Think Mobile First”

In an age when the sensible eCommerce merchants are shifting their attention to mobile users, maybe you should too.

statistics of online smartphone activities

When 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, your site must be optimized for desktop users and smartphone users alike in order to achieve high SERP standing.

Example: Responsive website

Additionally, mobile search is currently dominating over desktop search in over 10 countries including the US and Japan. This is also the reason why recently Google has made it official that they’ll be factoring the usability of your mobile website into your SERP ranking.

Now, how quickly your site loads on mobile affects your search rankings across Google, including desktop.

This moves us to the current best solution to improve mobile performance for your eCommerce site:

Optimization Solutions: PWA and AMP

The current trend in mobile optimization initiatives is to mass migrate to PWA (Progressive Web App) and/or implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page). Although the difference between PWA and AMP is often regarded as obvious, a large portion of website developers still hesitates about combining the two to make the most out of these new technologies. 

As it is, PWA is gradually becoming the new standard of the eCommerce industry, and as you might have already known, sometimes it’s adapt or die in this business. PWA brings your website the appearance of a native app with vastly improved speed and the ability to work offline. Combined with AMP, your eCommerce website will be substantially faster, which in turn can increase traffic, SEA (Search Engine Advertising), ad views and CTR (Click Through Rate).

PWA example SimiCart
App-like look and feel of PWA

With proper implementation of PWA and AMP, your site can have the push it needs in order to be ahead of the E-Commerce game, which is all about performance and optimizations. Here at SimiCart, we have eCommerce store owners of many industries who found great satisfaction with SimiCart PWA – the best cost-effective solution to create exceptional Progressive Web Apps.

2. The Technical Bits

Hosting Plans

To prepare for a high traffic season, a consult with your hosting provider is recommended. There are 2 important things that every eCommerce merchant should check every now and then with their hosting provider:

+ Hosting plan limit: Are there limits to your hosting plans? If so, consider upgrading them to avoid site slowdowns or site crashes.

+ Failover capacity: Do your hosting plans include failover capacity? Failover capacity ensures that in times when your website’s server goes down, another one will take its place.

Minimum in-stock number thresholds

Another common thing that many eCommerce websites fail to deliver —especially during high traffic season such as holidays — is the availability of the product(s) in stock. Technically, you can easily prevent this from happening by implementing a minimum in-stock number thresholds. In this way, your system should be automatically removing the products that have reached the thresholds from the purchase queue. This will effectively save you the additional headache when too many holiday customers purchased one out-of-stock item.

Overview of site infrastructure

Lastly, a total infrastructure test & overview is also recommended to be carried out before the beginning of holiday seasons. Infrastructure tests are usually provided by tech providers—such as SimiCart—to determine your site capacity and capability. This step is not to be taken lightly as it’s needed for load testing, which is used to determine visit numbers and traffic patterns.

4. Checkout and Credit

The mobile experience is getting better and faster than ever, and yet some parts of it seem to be staying still:

conversion statistics
Image courtesy of Magento

Why does this conversion gap still exist? One popular theory is that too much of the website’s content is squeezed onto a much smaller screen, thus producing a poorer experience—especially at the checkout stage, leaving customers no choice but to switch to a bigger screen.

However, as more and more merchants are adopting the mobile-first approach, this conversion gap is getting smaller each day. Merchants that are ahead of the game all have one thing in common, which is that they have all found a way to optimize the critical checkout funnel (for example, the one-click payment option), thus removing distractions and points of friction.

quote by Brandye Sweetnam
Image courtesy of Magento

Here are some of the best practices to get started on removing barriers to purchase:

Payment Optimization based on Form Factor

By minimizing the steps that a customer must manually take, merchants can close more sales and generate more revenue. However, if this is that easy of a step, most merchants would’ve done it. Optimizations are hard, and optimizations of payment options are of no easy feat either. It is often recommended that multitudes of continuous tests across many devices should be a starting point for any kind of eCommerce optimization. These tests should also be done based on multiple variables that can affect the customer’s behavior across form factors.

Reduce distractions

Your beloved customers—especially your mobile customers—are known to procrastinate, like a lot. To “Do more with less“, your aim is to make the Checkout Process as streamlined, as seamless an experience as possible by removing unnecessary buttons and options.

quote by Rob Long
Image courtesy of Magento

5. Make Them Stay!

It’s one thing to invite hordes of visitors in and convert them into customers, and it’s another thing to be able to make life-long loyal customers. Once you’ve hooked them in with your holiday discounts and special offers, what’s left for you to do is to:

  • Keep them updated: Push content and promotions using leads and insights that you’ve gathered to keep them interested in what your store has to offer.
  • Make shopping a personalized experience: Thank you notes and Happy Birthday emails are a must to make them know that your store cares.
  • Encourage the use of holiday gift cards: With creative and detailed strategies revolving around gift cards, not only will you be able to promote your brand awareness but your customers will also be interested in coming back and become more loyal to your brand.

Conclusion

Overall, holidays are a great occasion for eCommerce merchants such as yourself to try punching above your weight. We hope that, with tips like this, you could find your store having a higher conversion rate and driving higher sales come this Black Friday and Cyber Friday holidays.

For Magento merchants who are still undecided on which route to take, here at SimiCart we offer the best PWA solution for Magento merchants. Contact us now to receive a free demo of our product and get a quote.

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A content writer with a passion for the English language.

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