The start of the holiday retail sales season is just around the corner. During special occasions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the number of website visitors, as well as their enthusiasm to buy, skyrockets. Furthermore, this trend isn’t going away until the holidays. This surge in traffic may put eCommerce site owners and digital marketers under a lot of pressure. To avoid stress and to take advantage of the increased number of prospective consumers, you must prepare your shop ahead of time. This blog will provide 5 tips to prepare your online retail store for holidays.
Why are online platforms important during holidays?
According to a recent study in 2020, holiday season online retail sales in the United States increased by 32% in comparison to the previous year. Consumers prefer to buy online over the holiday season for a variety of reasons, including the ability to avoid lines and explore products more quickly. Consumers gain greater flexibility and convenience when they control the end-to-end buying experience, especially when free shipping and rapid delivery become more commonplace.
This situation is a perfect chance for online platforms to make use of eCommerce. Indeed, online stores can actually share the heavy in-store traffic during the holiday season. It is also more convenient for busy customers who do not have time to go to offline stores.
Now that you know the benefits of an eCommerce site during the holiday season, here are some tips to build the most effective (and festive) online store.
Tips to prepare your online retail store for holidays
Pay attention to high-traffic
As a retailer, you obviously don’t want your website to be down at the most profitable time of year. Unfortunately, this can happen if there are too many visitors at the same moment, especially on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. In reality, even the leading eCommerce sites, such as Shopee in South East Asia, have faced some crashes during ‘peak hours’ when everyone goes there to shop.
Although sudden surges in traffic may be a good sign of your website’s success, the consequences, especially if you’re not prepared, can be costly. It might, for example, make your web pages load painfully slowly or take your website design down and offline. Visitors will be considerably inconvenienced and dissatisfied in any case.
For this reason, if you haven’t had any previous traffic spikes, you should verify with your website host to ensure that your site can manage the extra traffic. There are multiple solutions if your website cannot deal with a large number of visitors, such as upgrading the web hosting, installing a caching plugin, etc.
Allow curbside pickup
During the holidays, consumers are moving toward a mixed online and in-store shopping experience, with digital-first behaviors like curbside pickup and buy-online-pick-up-in-store expected to continue. In fact, research has shown that retail sales of click-and-collect items increased from $36.48 billion in 2019 to $58.52 billion in 2020, a trend accelerated by the epidemic. If you are running an online store, organizing a pickup location can considerably increase sales. For example, if customers want to buy something immediately for their Christmas dinner but cannot wait for delivery, they can choose curbside pickup and quickly go to the nearest location to grab the item.
On a more practical side, how can businesses actually handle curbside pickup? Many stores nowadays are using point of sale solutions with buy online and pick up in-store functions. If you are finding a similar system, check out ConnectPOS which has outstanding click-and-collect features and many more.
Redesign the site
Redesigning here does not necessarily mean that you should rebuild your whole website. Instead, with a few little tweaks, you may make your website suitable for the holiday season.
Adding a countdown timer to the header might help to boost the sense of urgency. Changing your header banners to highlight your Black Friday or Christmas deals is another smart technique that is simple to execute. If you have more resources, you can use a holiday theme to decorate your entire website. Changing some of your website’s components to show that “it’s the Holidays!” may significantly enhance your guests’ enthusiasm to keep shopping and remain in a festive mood.
Besides the appearance, the site should also be easy to navigate. People will turn around and abandon your website as soon as possible if the navigation is poorly designed and confusing. This is particularly essential during the holiday season, when guests are frequently pressed for time.
You can optimize your site’s navigation by double-checking that your search feature is properly configured. There are a few suggestions to assist you to improve your site’s search. For example, try to place the search field in a prominent spot, or make the search results sortable by price.
Make use of sales reports
No matter how eye-catching your site can be, it stays as the first impression. What holds customers in your store is the quality and specialties of your products. A good way to come up with a successful strategy is by making use of sales reports. Your first priority should be to review and learn from last year’s numbers.
Understanding the reasons for your campaigns’ success or failure might help you develop more effective efforts this year. Data analysis might also provide new methods to fulfill your consumers’ requirements. Once again, POS systems are a good option to acquire insightful reports. They can provide analytics based on the real purchases of your store last year and even the current trend.
Make it mobile-friendly
More consumers visit online retailers from their smartphones or tablet throughout the holiday season. Therefore, you shouldn’t lose these customers just because your website isn’t mobile-friendly. Therefore, on phones and tablets, make sure it’s simple to browse your items and make a purchase from your store.
While you’re getting ready for the holidays, you should also be thinking about next year by installing heatmaps on your website. Heatmaps go beyond standard website statistics to show you exactly where your visitors click on each page. They may significantly improve the layout and components of your home page, product pages, and category sites. This tool could be beneficial to develop a user-friendly mobile experience.
Are you ready to prepare your retail store for the upcoming holidays? As a leading point of sale provider, ConnectPOS can help you achieve your dream in many ways. If you want to know more about us, don’t hesitate to leave a message!