Summer has ended and the school year is well underway, which means that it’s time for retailers to start gearing up for the holiday season. Most brick and mortar retailers have likely begun their strategizing by reviewing last year’s holiday season to determine what worked and what didn’t work. And based in part on this review, such retailers will now make decisions on holiday hiring, item stocking, item pricing, marketing, decorations, store hours, promotions, special sales like Black Friday, and so much more.
But what of online stores? If you run an online store what should you be doing now to ensure the success of your holiday season? And, if this is your e-commerce site’s first holiday season, the answers to these questions should be considered paramount, as holiday season sales numbers tend to mark the overall success of most retail operations, whether traditional or online.
E-Commerce Sites Face Similar Issues as Traditional Stores
Naturally, your e-commerce store will have to make some of the same holiday minded decisions as traditional stores. While you may not have to concern yourself with “store hours,” issues such as stocking, pricing, marketing, promotions and the like should definitely be considered in determining your holiday season sales strategy. Holiday hiring may also be needed, should your business already be robust, and/or you have any concerns about keeping up with the online customer traffic. “Shipping” is also a crucial consideration, and your holiday shipping deadlines need to be effectively communicated on your site.
Oh, and yes, you should get your e-commerce site into the season by sprucing it up with holiday decorations. However, do not let any festive decorations or promotional messages overwhelm or otherwise distract from the site’s overall design or its products.
Operational Review of Your E-Commerce Site Crucial
Along with the more traditional retail strategizing, online stores need to make sure that the technical aspects of their operation are working smoothly. After all, even the best holiday e-tail promotions and lowest online sales prices will come to naught should a glitch in the system prevent your customers from concluding their orders. Therefore, your e-commerce holiday season strategizing should also include a thorough operational review of your e-commerce site to ensure its functionality and ease of use.
This review should include the following steps.
Review every page of your e-commerce site and check the functionality of navigation, every link, popup, image optimizer and any other features. If you’re concerned about broken links you can check out our Link Manager app which you can use to track how many broken links your visitors see.
Conduct this review again with a different browser and conduct it on a different computer and with mobile devices. Try using an incognito/private browser session so you won’t see what your store looks like when you’re logged in. Include a test of the integration between your main site and social media during this review.
Also test specific feature functionality in relation to ad-blocker and similar programs, to ensure that crucial functions are not compromised.
Speed and Performance Review
A quick way to test the speed of your e-commerce store is by using Google’s PageSpeed Tool. This free tool shows you how much data is transferred when you load a page on your site and offers tips to improve the speed. One small note, you maybe not be able to get perfect scores on your Shopify store but the tool will help identify areas where you can improve.
Test the search function to ensure that appropriate search words adequately direct the visitor to the correct page(s). Also, if you haven’t done so already, register your site with Google’s Webmaster Tools. This allows you to view information about how Google indexes your site and make some configurations.
Test your checkout process for ease of use and to make sure it works properly by actually ordering a product. If you’ve outsourced customer service, contact the provider with a question about your order to gauge their response. Review “track shipping” to make sure it accurately reflects the shipping status of your order.
Make sure that your security software is up to date and and that you prominently display your SSL certificate.
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the scope of holiday season preparation needed for your e-commerce site, you can always outsource the operational review of your website. While not our primary focus, we can include the above operational review items as part of its professional services for Shopify e-commerce sites, and those thinking of migrating to Shopify.