Your 2016 Ecommerce Holiday Prep List

| By: Ike Vinpa

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas all approaching, ’tis the season for a rush on your ecommerce site.

Shopping, cooking, and traveling are a few of the stresses we humans endure this time of year, but if you’re an ecommerce merchant, you have one more: the stress on your website. Here’s a quick checklist of actions you can take now to make sure your site doesn’t suffer from the holiday blues!

1. Add holiday features and design
Just like storefronts beautify their window displays with holiday adornments, savvy website owners spruce up their site with holiday cheer. Special holiday categories, images, or even adding some design ornaments to your logo can turn a cold visitor into a warm customer.

2. Give holiday gifts
Holiday time is a gift-giving time, but what about the gift givers? Offering your customers a branded gift or holiday-themed freebie with their purchase is a great way to build customer loyalty and drive referrals. Whether it’s a special discount code, a free download, or even a candy cane in their order, people love to get something free and are likely to spread the word about your brand.

3. Offer promotions
The National Retail Federation predicts that sales in the US this season will increase 3.6% to $655.8 billion. Consumers are ready to spend their gift-giving budgets, so use promotions to make sure they spend it with you. Giving your customers value-proposition offers and money-saving deals ensure they shop with you instead of your competitors.

4. Share your email calendar internally
If you’ll be sending out promotional emails to your customers, hosting experts recommend creating a schedule and a calendar. Having a calendar that you can pass to your tech team really helps them prepare for the throughput increase your servers will experience, and helps them make sure your site performs the way it should. If your email list is big (over 10x the size of your average active browsing customers), make sure to stratify your emails and send them out in waves rather than all at once. This will make sure your site isn’t flooded with more users than it can handle.

5. Stress test your site
Testing your site to find its vulnerabilities in a controlled environment can really help a business stay ahead of problems before they occur. Will your site crash if too many users visit at the same time? If you upload a new product collection, will your users experience a slowdown? A stress test can reveal exactly where and how your site could use a tune-up. Remember, a performing site is a converting site.

6. Increase server capacity
Servers are like utility companies for websites. Just like buildings need the right size generator to power each room, websites need the right size servers to power your user base. If you are forecasting a large boost in traffic this season, it’s a good idea to call your hosting provider and make sure your servers can handle all the increased traffic. Your bottom line will thank you.

7. Do a code review
This one requires a developer who knows what they’re doing. When the shopping holidays hit, you want your site to be free from quirks and bugs. These user frustrations often live deep under the surface in the code. Having a skilled developer give your code a checkup could save you a lot of money in future breaks, and ensure your site is performing in tip-top shape for the holiday season.

8. Install security patches
Holidays always have a Grinch. Make sure to keep security doors closed to unwelcome guests by installing all security patches for your web software, and make sure it is updated and working. If you’re on the Magento platform, visit Magereport.com for a free check.

9. Use uptime monitors
Even though you sleep, your website doesn’t. Use the help of an uptime monitor to make sure your site stays up through the entire holiday season. Most uptime monitors will notify you immediately if there an issue with your site, so you can fix the problem as quickly as possible.

10. Have an emergency plan
No one wants to think about the worst, but it’s always best to be prepared. In the event something happens to your site, make sure you, your team, and your service providers have a plan of action in place for any technical difficulties. This plan can include action items, like when to contact your support provider and access the servers, as well as guidelines, like assigning in-house personnel to be on call at certain times.

Questions? Email ike@corra.com to learn more!

Find more holiday tips from Corra and our partners at our Holiday Resource Center.

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Ike Vinpa is Technical Account Manager at Corraa New York, Los Angeles and London based digital commerce agency creating unified commerce experiences for fashion, lifestyle and beauty. Corra’s ecommerce strategy, design and technology professionals are trusted by retailers of all sizes to implement and support the Magento Enterprise and hybris platforms.