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Steps to Optimize Your eCommerce Site for the Holidays

The holiday season is one of the most profitable times of the year for online retailers. Everyone dreams about the great end of year profits, but many people discount the work and preparation it takes to reach those profits. Getting your eCommerce site ready for holiday shopping involves more than lowering prices and opening your digital doors. The best eCommerce businesses will optimize their sites beforehand so that holiday sales go off with as few problems as possible. Here are a few ways you can optimize your eCommerce site so you can make the most out of the holiday shopping season rush to end the year on a high note. 

Audit To Find Your Starting Point

Before you can improve and optimize your current ecommerce site, you must understand where it currently is and what the current issues are. You can’t improve if you don’t know where you are starting, so conduct a proper site audit to ensure you see the whole board before taking on new projects. Look at error logs, customer feedback, last year’s holiday metrics, and analyze the different data streams to find any hidden gaps in your system. Review your site through a customer’s eyes to find what could be better designed or more clearly explained. Only once you understand your starting point, foundation, and goals for this year’s holidays can you start optimizing your site. 

Have Your Listings And Promotions Ready

Do not decide your holiday promotions, sales, discounts, and deals at the last minute. Use your audit to see how much inventory you have and what items you can reasonably discount. Finding the right sales to offer is a balancing act that takes time to nail down; otherwise, you risk offering sales you cannot support with inventory or financials. Before you start running ads or direct response marketing campaigns, make sure your deals are solidified so you don’t have to issue a retraction or alteration later when customers will be less than pleased. 

Once you have your holiday prices set, test out the new prices and discounts before the sale goes live. Test your website to make sure prices and sales are accurately reflected in checkout. Testing all your holiday changes before your customers can access them helps you eliminate potential technical difficulties once the sales go live. Slashing prices is not enough if the sale falls apart at checkout, so take the time to test everything before publishing the new prices and sales. 

Shipping Options

Even if you offer the best sales and the steepest discounts, a sale can fall through in checkout when customers reach the shipping stage. To increase the odds of a customer completing the sale rather than abandoning their cart, offer a range of shipping options and prices that are backed by APIs. Add different shipping and payment options, so there are as few barriers between the customer and a finished order as possible. Adding Paypal alongside credit card options is a minimum that customers worldwide appreciate. The more options you offer customers, the higher the chance they take one of them and finish the sale. You can even go above and beyond by offering or linking to 3rd party shipping insurance so customers can buy with peace of mind knowing that their orders will arrive intact. 

Prepare Your Support

All the prep and planning in the world will never prevent every possible issue. During the holiday shopping rush, issues are bound to pop up, and it will be up to your support staff to handle the issues. Train your support employees so they know how to handle common issues and have the resources to work their way through more complex issues in the face of stressed customers, whether they are in-house or contracted through another company. Ensure your staff are comfortable with email, phone, live chat, and any other type of support you offer with the resources and guidelines on hand to manage more challenging issues. Support is often the last department customers talk to, and the conversation can end on a happy note with the issue resolved or a sour note if the support staff was unable to solve the problem. The training you give your staff now will result in more happy customers in the future. 

The holiday season is a magical time of year for everyone, but for ecommerce retailers, it is also the season of sales. However, raking in those sales is easier said than done and takes preparation before the sales start for the best results. Start by auditing your current site to find hidden problems that need to be fixed first. Plan out your holiday sales and test them on your website before the sales go out to the public. Add more shipping options or features to reduce the percentage of customers that walk away from shopping carts. Prepare your support staff to handle the holiday madness by giving them the training and resources they need to navigate support tickets and keep customers happy. 

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Andre Bourque (@SocialMktgFella) is a cannabis industry media influencer, brand executive and advisor, blockchain marketer, and cannabis columnist. He specializes in cannabis industry partnerships, distribution, and funding. He is a ranked social media marketing and content strategist.

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