Holiday Checklist: 10 Tips for Ecommerce Retailers

| By: Sasha Butkovich

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and ecommerce and omni-channel merchants have been busy preparing for months. Even with all the planning and organization though, there can be important items that slip through the cracks.

Before the busy holiday rush begins, take a look at this checklist. We’ve pulled together a few key ideas for the Marketing, Front-end and Back-end aspects of your online retail business. Read on for the top 10 tips from our ecommerce experts.

Marketing

1. Segment your email lists

Email is still a leading method for getting your holiday promotions in front of your customers. Because of this, it’s imperative to make sure your messages are reaching the right customers’ inboxes. Segmenting by location, purchase behavior, and other key indicators allows you to tailor your messages for higher conversions.

2. Promote gift cards

Gift cards and e-gift certificates are popular during the holidays. Promote these gift-giving products in your emails and other marketing channels, and ensure that they are easy for shoppers to find and purchase on your website. They should also be easy to redeem. This becomes especially important post-holiday when recipients will be coming back to the site to use them!

3. Try native advertising

As ad formats that match website content are becoming more popular, the holiday season is a great time to try out native ads. Leverage your customer data to target the sites or channels your customers use the most for advertising, whether that’s on social media, blogs, search engines, or somewhere else.

Front-end

4. Update shipping and return policies

Offering special shipping and return rates during and immediately after the holidays is a great way to improve the customer’s experience. Make sure the offer is easy to find, whether that means highlighting it as banners on the home and product pages or listing it on the policy page. Users shouldn’t be spending their time hunting for shipping information!

5. Develop a strong landing page strategy

Dedicated landing pages can help strengthen your marketing efforts by focusing customers in on the specific products you want to promote.  Those pages can then be easily promoted through email, social media, SEM, and more. Keep in mind, it’s a good idea to A/B test the components of these pages early to ensure the highest converting landing pages are ready to go for the holiday season.

6. Optimize for mobile

In 2014, 1 in 4 shoppers used a smartphone to purchase a gift. Don’t let your mobile shoppers down! Customers are motivated to buy on mobile when the shopping experience is intuitive, easy, and of course, secure. If your mobile experience doesn’t fit that bill, now is the time to optimize.

Back-end

7. Load test the website

The holiday season brings increased site traffic throughout all of Q4, with peaks on major shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Perform load testing now to be sure your site can handle the surge without crashing.

8. Clean up logs

Cleaning up log files and other unused files is a good idea any time of year. But tackling this chore prior to the holiday season is a particularly great strategy. It will help to improve the overall performance of your website, which will be especially helpful during the upcoming high traffic months!

9. Index at night

Indexing, the process of collecting, parsing and storing web pages (and metadata) so they can be quickly retrieved by search engines, is obviously very important for increasing online visibility. But it’s a slow process. Don’t bog down your site during peak traffic, or your users will experience slow page load times. If you’re going to index during the holiday season, wait to put this additional load on the servers until the off-peak nighttime hours.

Bonus tip: Customer Experience

10. Match consumers across channels

Customer data is your friend. Use it to determine what customers are engaging with, on which devices, and when. Your mobile strategy should be different from your desktop strategy, which should also be different from your in-store strategy. Each one needs to match and cater to the behaviors customers display in each channel. Now is the time to determine what those are and develop strategies that will unify your customer experience.

Want to learn more? View Corra’s 2015 Holiday Readiness Guide, or email your questions to hello@corra.com.

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Sasha Butkovich is Marketing Copywriter at Corra, a New York, Los Angeles and London based digital commerce agency creating unified customer experiences for fashion, lifestyle and beauty. With a team of 100+ ecommerce strategy, design and technology professionals, Corra delivers rich shopping experiences across all channels and devices. Corra is trusted by retailers of all sizes to implement and support the Magento, Demandware and hybris platforms.

Corra is a digital agency creating transformative commerce experiences for fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. With headquarters in New York, Los Angeles and London, Corra provides strategically led creative and technology solutions to a growing global market.