Holiday Readiness: How to Prepare Your E-commerce Store for the Holiday Season

The last few months of the year are usually the busiest for most E-commerce stores. Brands receive or expect to receive a whale of customers looking to fulfill their holiday shopping wishes. 

If you run an E-commerce store, now is the best time to maximize your total revenue. There is already a surge in online shopping by over 30% since the pandemic hit.

But with threats of new entrants into the landscape and the changing shopping behavior of consumers, how do you ensure your store is the ideal go-to place for shopping?  

In this post, we’ll reveal tips for preparing your E-commerce store for the coming shopping holidays including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

1 Examine your store’s UX/UI

Most cart and browser abandonment comes from a website with complicated UX and UI. Look at the graph below.


As you can see, the average shopping cart abandonment rate stands at 74%. Most of which are the results of poor UX and UI. To improve your store’s  UX and UI, consider:

  1. Checking your website’s loading speed
    53% of smartphone users will leave a site if it takes over three seconds to load. If your E-commerce store is sluggish this holiday season, expect higher bounce rates and hence lost sales.
    To avoid losing revenue, you need to boost your website’s loading speed. Use a tool like GTmetrix which not only tests how your website loads on different devices but also provides detailed recommendations on improving your website’s loading speeds.
  2. Check third-party integrations
    GymShark had its site down for eight hours on a Black Friday in 2015 because of a third-party app error, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.You do not want the same thing for your store. Hence, update or change your third-party app when necessary and check if they can handle a surge in web traffic to avoid unfortunate surprises.
  3. Optimize your check-out page
    A complicated check-out page with several steps and too much info overwhelms the visitors, making them consider your competitors. Ensure your website check-out page displays only important factors such as the selected items and the total amount. The other details you may add are:

    • Social proof to instill trust
    • A voluntary option to create an account
    • Using fewer CTAs
    • Enabling one-click check out if possible
  4. Mobile-responsivenessWith Google already switching to mobile-first indexing because of its convenience and frictionless shopping experience, your E-commerce store product pages, catalog, and ads should easily be crawled by Googlebot smartphone agents.Besides, your text, visual, and CTAs should load correctly on mobile, and your call or message buttons visible so that visitors can engage the company right on their mobile phones.
  5. Enable abandonment notificationsEnabling cart and browser abandonment notifications will help re-engage customers planning to abandon the cart. Using the right plugin, you can send push notifications, emails, or re-targeting ads to convince the customer to complete a purchase.

2 Provide both delivery and pickup options

Holiday readiness is not just about making your website easily navigable by improving UX, but also making it convenient for shoppers to receive their orders quickly and conveniently.

This is the time to consider free delivery to attract customers to your store. If your delivery methods are overburdened, you can turn to dropshipping solutions as a way to fulfill more deliveries. 

Alternatively, provide your customers with curbside pickups to ease the burden on your staff fulfilling home deliveries. To achieve this, offer an incentive to attract the customer to choose pickups over shipping. Whichever method you use, ensure your delivery method isn’t slow as it a major reason for cart abandonment.

3 Enable voice and visual searches

One factor that complicates and lengthen a customer purchasing journey is when search engines display irrelevant results. Visual and voice search aims to reduce the friction in a consumer purchase journey, saving the consumers thousands of hours with inaccurate searches.  

With visual and voice search, consumers can enjoy a voice-enabled or visual-enabled shopping because they need not enter irregular search queries when sourcing for products but use images or voice commands.

If you have an E-commerce store, integrate it with Pinterest Lens or Google Home to enable personalized marketing or shopping experience for customers searching for products using visual and voice elements. Besides, visual and voice search helps you:

  • Gain insights into your customers’ shopping patterns and habits that can lead to creating a tailored experience.
  • Promote relationships between brands, retailers, and tech firms.
  • Increased accuracy in product discovery and sale.

4 Update store’s policies

Studies show that 10% of cart abandonment results from unsatisfactory return policies. 

With COVID-19 already changing the E-commerce landscape, customers won’t be happy when they find irregularities in your refund/return policies. Hence, update your return or store’s policies to suit the current scenario.

Here’s a simple return policy from IKEA that sets expectations while acknowledging the current situation. 

Besides, ensure your audience knows what to expect when returning a product to your company. The thoughts you can add to streamline your return/store’s policies are:

  • Have a clear return policy
  • Update your FAQ’s, support pages.
  • Use an automated tool for refunds and exchanges that can handle bulk requests and provide a hassle-free refund and exchange

5 Back-up your store

Holiday seasons combined with COVID-19 restrictions are a receipt for panic buying and bulk buying. That means your servers can get overwhelmed anytime causing downtime and lost sales.

Back-up everything: from coupon codes, product images, databases, files, configurations, and settings. So that if the site goes offline for whatever reason, you can get it running or recover potentially important documents or files in the shortest time possible. 

For your E-commerce store, use a managed VPS hosting solution which comes with enhanced security, automated back-ups, and round-the-clock support.

6 Offer better product recommendations

70% of customers that reach your store aren’t sure what they want to buy or would choose multiple gift options. This is a great opportunity to suggest better products, upsell, down-sell, or cross-sell as a way to grow your E-commerce business.

Take Amazon’s cross-selling strategy for example. 

After you click on an item, it displays more related items or those in your interest or a better offer if you cannot find the product you are looking for.

To succeed at cross-selling:

  • Show only recommendations with customer ratings/reviews
  • Enable geo-targeting
  • Show your catalog’s best sellers and most popular items
  • Use tracking snippets and cookies to analyze customer behavior
  • Develop gift guides to enable people to pick up ideas on what they want to buy

Maximize your efforts by creating related pages with different products for your customers. 

7 Offer holiday-themed gift cards

Other than recommendations, gift cards are a popular way to boost sales. Besides, they help enhance customer loyalty and retention. 

Use gift cards to reward your most loyal customer and gift wrapping as after-sale service. You can also offer holiday gift certificates to attract more customers and boost sales. Here is what you can do to make gift cards work to your advantage.

  • Invest in marketing your gift cards
  • Ensure your gift cards are visible to every website visitor
  • Provide appealing and customizable gift card templates
  • Offer coupons to attract customers for goods such as balloon sticks

As the pandemic continues to cause havoc and panic on the economy and the lives of consumers, it is still uncertain whether selling may be exciting this holiday season. 

Some retailers, especially in the fashion and luxury goods industry have taken a hit while others in the meal delivery and personal hygiene have benefited. Besides, supply chains have been disrupted and certain ads banned.

The pandemic is thus presenting growth opportunities but at the same time uncertainty. These thoughtful preparations should not only help you adjust to the current happenings but also to stand out and open up new growth opportunities for your E-commerce store.

Author bio

Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.