Get Your eCommerce Business Holiday-Ready

eCommerce Business Holiday-Ready

This post was last updated on Nov 17, 2021.

The 2020 holiday shopping season was unlike anything experienced before it. Many spent the holidays apart from their loved ones, relying on online shopping to spread what little holiday cheer they could. As a result, eCommerce sales exploded, setting two years’ worth of growth in a single season. And while most consumers plan to return to normal holiday plans, there’s little doubt the eCommerce share of the retail market will remain high. For one, 2 out 3 shoppers increased their online shopping habits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, 35 percent of shoppers say they will shop online more now than they did before the pandemic. All of this is setting the stage for an 11 percent YoY increase in holiday eCommerce sales. And your competitors know this too.

To stand out in a growing and competitive landscape, merchants must make their online shopping experience easy, flexible, and memorable with the right online store.

Get your eCommerce business ready for the 2021 holiday season following these five steps:

  1. Prepare for a heavy traffic influx

  2. Offer exceptional customer experience (CX)

  3. Make shipping and fulfillment easy and dependable

  4. Build out holistic holiday marketing campaigns

  5. Deliver great customer service and support

01. Prepare for a major uptick in traffic

There is nothing worse than a site outage, especially during the holiday shopping season.

On top of reliability, you need to make sure your site is fast. Now is the time to test your page load times. There might not be two more important elements to your holiday readiness than these two.

Experts agree there is a direct relationship between page load speed and revenue. Your site needs to have the scalability and stability to handle increased demands on your web infrastructure.

One way to do this is to evaluate your third-party codes and integrations to make sure they are up to date. If possible, try to use third-party codes sparingly. Test them and make sure they can handle increased bandwidth load and don’t add anything new, like plug-ins or 3rd-party apps, right now.

Wix stores are built to handle thousands of visitors at any given time. And we’re constantly evolving our underlying infrastructure to deliver industry-recognized speed and performance.

02. Offer a stellar onsite experience

An online store’s website experience can be the difference between an empty shopping cart and a full one. Swift navigation and ease of access are essential to a positive digital buying experience.

A good homepage, for one, should be easy to navigate so that new visitors can easily find category pages, special promotions, gift guides, best sellers and new arrivals. And the homepage experience should be optimal across all devices. Providing quick links that can answer their most frequent questions such as return policy and shipping information is also helpful.

Here are five additional tips for ensuring a great on-site experience:

  • Add category landing pages—Holiday shoppers often browse online stores without an exact product in mind. Offering category landing pages makes it easy for those visitors to navigate what your store has to offer. Plus, it encourages upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

  • Offer recommendations—Product recommendations help those shoppers unsure of their purchase. Wix eCommerce allows you to build out custom store modules that recommend products based on characteristics like price, category, or brand. These modules can help meet shopping intent, and improve your Average Order Value (AOV) as they encourage larger cart sizes. All this is achievable using Velo, Wix’s open-source dev platform.

  • Optimize your search capabilities—The product search feature on your site should be optimized enough to offer relevant information when searched. Typos and missing letter queries shouldn’t stop your search from operating effectively.

  • Keep the checkout page simple—Requiring a store account for checkout can stop a potential sale in its tracks. Always offer a guest checkout option and ensure a secure payment option. Quick checkout can also lead to quick sales as customers can be directed straight to the payment page.

  • Expand payment options—With that said, online shoppers love the convenience of payment options beyond credit cards. For example, PayPal, Klarna, Square, and Stripe make checking out fast and easy across all devices and regions. Wix Payments offers these options and more—and as our native payment provider can also handle seamless checkout on its own, without you needing to connect to third-party providers or plug-ins.

03. Make shipping and fulfillment a breeze

If you’re not already prioritizing shipping and fulfillment in your holiday eCommerce strategy, now is the time to take a look at how your supply chain is operating. Out-of-stocks and delivery delays can be extremely costly—both to your bottom line and brand reputation—and the pandemic has only made customers less patient.

Increased online orders, ongoing supply chain woes, and a limited workforce have many retailers preparing for every worst-case scenario this holiday season.

In fact, alternative fulfillment options are expected to grow this year as merchants attempt to combat shipping woes. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup are great options to avoid shipping fees and potential delivery disappointments.

Wix eCommerce allows you to set up pickup as your only delivery option if you’re trying to minimize shipping. Or, you can offer it as an additional option to local delivery and shipping if planned ahead of supply chain snags.

To prepare for increased online purchases, you also should decide how you will handle shipping and fulfillment ASAP. There are three primary options:

  • Handle shipping and fulfillment in-house

  • Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a third-party logistics provider (3PL)

  • Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a dropshipper

Wix offers dropshipping solutions for every type of eCommerce business. Established businesses can test new markets this holiday season without having to take on added inventory. Check out how to start dropshipping with Wix in seven easy steps.

Whatever you decide, automating the process can eliminate many holiday-induced headaches. Shipping software provides a dashboard that helps merchants to compare rates, print labels, manage orders, print shipping labels in bulk and reconcile shipping bills.

And don’t forget about returns—another important part of holiday readiness. A clear and flexible return policy is increasingly important in the age of online shopping, since try-on experiences aren’t quite the same on a smartphone.

Keep in mind, a too-strict return policy can be the difference between a lifelong customer and a lost sale. This is especially true during the holiday season when most purchases are gifts.

A transparent and fair return policy is a great tool for building customer trust and loyalty now and in the future.

04. Build out holistic holiday marketing campaigns

eCommerce marketing is a long game. Don’t wait until big holiday sale days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday to prepare your online store for holiday campaigns and promotions.

Your strategy should be fully optimized and ready, whether that means deploying new technologies or marketing strategies, as early as possible.

What that promotional strategy looks like will vary based on your customers’ needs.

Seasonal services such as free gift-wrapping and shipping are often popular. Limited-time offers create an urgency that gets people to check out faster and offering gift cards to upsell and check out can be effective in boosting sales.

Holiday contests and giveaways are other effective marketing strategies to increase customer satisfaction and engagement, which in the long run boosts sales and loyalty. You can do this directly on your store’s website, or more popularly many merchants utilize social media to further engage with customers.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to take advantage of a rewards or loyalty program. These types of promotions work in your favor to attract the holiday shopper but also are an investment in the returning customer. A rewards program is an effective way to turn one-time holiday shoppers into lifelong customers.

A good rewards program should be easy to use, have membership-only benefits, place a higher value on your products, and increase member engagement and interaction. Wix’s CRM allows you to reward VIP members with exclusive content and products.

Whatever your strategy, keeping a constant stream of content flowing is an essential part of planning a marketing strategy for the holidays. Consider paid advertising, email campaigns, social media channels, blog posts, video content and more.

Any web search traffic directed to your business is good traffic. When your content is original, up to date and relevant to the holiday season, customers are more likely to find their way to your store.

05. Deliver great customer service and support

With all that said, much of the eCommerce landscape revolves around responsive, fast customer service.

Having information readily available and dedicated support to respond to inquiries quickly can set you apart from many eCommerce experiences. Things go wrong and people generally understand that. With Wix Chat, you can address customer concerns, and help them discover the right items for their holiday needs.

eCommerce site holidays chat function

Invest in support to handle questions and concerns during a busy and stressful holiday season. Excellent customer service, especially during a hectic shopping season, can seal a sale and keep those customers coming back for more.

Wix’s Customer Management Suite can help you keep customer communication organized between your support team members, building your eCommerce platform into a multi-channel communication hub.

A positive customer experience can turn a problem into a lasting impression and loyal customer.

Make it quick and easy this holiday season

If you take just one thing away from this guide, remember that a smooth path to purchase will be the key to a successful holiday shopping season this year.

You want to ensure that the shopping experience on your online store is quick and easy across all channels and marketplaces as shoppers look for the perfect gifts for everyone on their list. Customers today value speed, convenience, and customer service above all else and you should have the framework in place to meet their needs.

eCommerce sales will only continue to grow as buyer habits increasingly go digital. Set yourself apart during this peak shopping period and take advantage of the opportunities that await.

Want to take advantage of the huge opportunity to make money online this holiday season? Create your eCommerce site and start selling today.

Geraldine Feehily

Bogar Alonso

Head of Outbound Marketing, Wix eCommerce

Bogar leads thought leadership and outbound marketing for Wix eCommerce. He has an extremely soft spot for all things eCommerce, retail, tech, content, and marketing.

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