Prepare Your Ecommerce Store For The 2020 Holiday Season
It’s the 2020 holiday season!!!
In between May to July, retailers all around the world start preparing for the highest holiday season sales every year. A few weeks to go and people are going to start buying gifts for their family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are considered the swarm pullers. The increase of sales and website visits starts particularly these days, then it turns into a shopping frenzy and continues till the new year.
Now the questions are – what if you haven’t started preparing up until now?
Is it too late to optimize your eCommerce store, you think?
Well – let me tell you that it’s not too late. So, if you still want to get the most out of the holiday sales, you need to act quickly.
Adobe Analytics revealed that eCommerce holiday sales jumped from $108.2 billion in 2017 to $126 billion in 2018. Based on Business Insider’s study, the increase in sales in 2018 compared to 2015 was 52.7 percent. So, it’s comprehensible how eCommerce sales, especially in the holiday season, are rising every year.
As the 2020 holiday season is already knocking on the door, you must start preparing your eCommerce store right now, better than later.
2020 Holiday Season: Challenge For eCommerce Business Owners
For retailers, preparing for 2020 holiday shopping is a challenge than the previous years, as the Covid-19 pandemic added an extra layer of uncertainty. Needless to say that the scenario is radically different this year. Due to the upheaval of the coronavirus outbreak worldwide, many retailers are going through a crucial time than ever.
Covid-19 and social distancing impacted people’s lives unexpectedly as well as customer’s purchasing behavior. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the first quarter of 2020, eCommerce sales growth was 14.8% resulting in 160.4 billion dollars. Surprisingly, in the second quarter of the year, the growth rate was 44.5% that led to $211.5 billion in sales.
So, it’s crystal clear now that buying things, no matter if it’s daily life stuff or a gift, isn’t going to stop. It’s a matter of rejoicing for eCommerce business owners because the online purchase is the only solution now to maintain social distancing. It’s now, however, necessary to concentrate on preparing your eCommerce store for this global pandemic holiday season.
Here is the 2020 holiday calendar for your convenience:
- Canadian Thanksgiving – October 12
- Halloween – October 31
- American Thanksgiving – November 26
- Black Friday – November 27
- Small Business Saturday – November 28
- Cyber Monday – November 30
- Green Monday – December 14
- Free Shipping Day – December 14
- Hanukkah – December 10 to December 18
- Christmas Eve – December 24
- Christmas Day – December 25
- Boxing Day – December 26
- Kwanzaa – December 26 to January 1, 2021
- New Year’s Eve – December 31
To help you prepare your eCommerce store for the 2020 holiday season, I have broken down the preparation strategies into concise and understandable points:
- Optimize Your Customer Experience
- Diversify Your Product Source & Suppliers
- Study Sales History & Manage Inventory Beforehand
- Email Marketing Campaign
- Social Media Campaign
- Prepare Your Fulfillment, Shipping, and Distribution Channels
- Integrate The Right Customization Solution
#1 Optimize Your Customer Experience
It’s easy to attract customers with offers like discounts, coupons, or free shipping. But, depending on those techniques frequently might lead to destroying your profit margin. Remember, providing the best deal is essential, yet more necessary to win your customers by providing the best customer experience.
You must work on building a long-term relationship with your customers and increase your conversion rate. Take the initiatives to provide your customers with a frictionless and user-friendly shopping experience.
Consider implementing these ideas into your business to optimize your customer experience:
A Simplified Checkout Process Is A Must Required
To increase the conversion rate of your eCommerce store, streamline the checkout process. Both your customers and prospects prefer a more simplified checkout while buying something.
Days before the holiday, amidst intense busy work schedules, people don’t have time to waste on filling up a long-form to buy something. Last-minute gift shoppers mostly want quicker solutions. A study revealed that 69.57% of cart abandonment happens every year, and the purchase processes are left incomplete.
So, a complicated checkout process can easily create irritation in customers’ minds and lead to cart abandonment quickly. Do not make it difficult and time-consuming for your shoppers. Experts’ opinions regarding the optimization of the checkout process are:
- One page easy going checkout
- No unnecessary information requirement
- Less data or information entry
- Straight-forward and streamlined
Earn Customers’ Trust
Shoppers demand transparency. Leave no room for doubts. Be transparent to your customers or prospects regarding your brand, shipping, return policies, and all other information. It’s time to change your policies if they aren’t customer-friendly or least be straight-forward. State clearly at the early phase of the ongoing shopping process. Full disclosure of your eCommerce store policies will create trust in your customers’ minds.
Display social proof like customers’ purchase feedback and add Five Star ratings right next to your products to make your business reliable and trustworthy. Many happy customers are willing to provide video feedback about your products. Video feedback is a great attention-grabbing tool.
Highlight Your Special Offers On This 2020 Holiday Season
You are going to run special deals like discounts, coupon codes, By One Get One (BOGO), free shipping, etc. throughout the holiday season. Display the offers in a way easy to find. Advertise your latest offers using a banner on your site, through email campaigns, social media promotions or ads, influencers, or any other channels possible. Make an easy guideline for your customers or prospects that help them get the offers that lead to successful sales without any complication.
Prepare Your Ecommerce Store For Fully-optimized Smartphone Navigation
It’s hard to think about daily life without smartphones now. In the eCommerce industry, the importance of smartphones is increasing surprisingly. A fully optimized smartphone navigable online store is vital to increase your conversion in the holiday season sales. According to a study, 79% of people use their mobile devices to purchase online.
Another study showed:
- Cyber Monday’s online revenue was $9.2 billion in 2019. 54% traffic generated, and 33% of purchases performed from smartphones
- In 2018, 79% of customers ordered a product using their smartphones
- 40% of Black Fridays sales came via mobile in 2018
- 84% of users face complications in finishing a mobile transaction, and 40% of them go to the competitors
So it’s easy to understand how smartphone purchase is rising every year. As the Coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on human life in 2020, online shopping is the safest solution to maintain social distancing. You have to prepare your eCommerce store in a mobile-friendly way. Make it easily accessible and navigable for your customers.
- Quick and smooth navigable menus
- Optimize your search option – make your products easy to find
- Pages should load instantaneously
- Integrate as many as digital wallets or payment options possible
- Less information input in the process
- Make the checkout process quicker and comfortable.
#2 Diversify Your Product Source & Suppliers
Make sure you have diversified product sources or multiple suppliers. It will be better if your sources are from different states or countries so that your business crosses the local and international borders.
Multiple dependable suppliers will ensure help in the time of crisis. If one supplier fails or even delays, another supplier can take its place and help you cover the load.
As eCommerce businesses run under a supply chain, always having a backup plan is helpful. Dropshipping helps you expand your business and maximize your product catalog. It unburdens you from the extra load of shipping and fulfillment issues.
#3 Study Sales History & Manage Inventory Beforehand
In-depth knowledge regarding your customers’ needs is necessary. What were the sales rate and growth in the past few holiday seasons? What are the sales rates in the first and second quarter of 2020? A study by Wix has revealed the present trend of products’ category during the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Food & Groceries
- Home & Garden
- Pet Care
- Clothing & Apparel
- Games & Leisure
- Health & Beauty
- Art & Crafting
- Books & Music
Use proper data to reconstruct your inventory decisions and which products you should stock. If you have the history of any product return repeatedly, you should consider discontinuing those before the holiday sales begin.
Moreover, you can buy products from your suppliers to make sure that you won’t run out of stock during the holiday sales peak. If you own a physical location or if you afford to rent, then you better move your inventory closer to the place where customers’ demands are high. Thus, it becomes easier and faster to pick up and make the delivery without wasting time.
#4 Email Marketing Campaign
Here are some tips for your email marketing campaign to prepare your eCommerce store for 2020 holiday sales:
Make Outline of Strategies Before The Holiday Sales Start
Create a map of strategies where there is a well thought out plan for:
- Segmentation of your customers and prospects is very important to know who is your target and which product fits them best
- Frequency of your messages and emails
- The suspense of special offers and discounts’ emails will lead to special events like Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Christmas, New Year, etc.
Keep the email language tone personal as you are talking to them personally, not as to a broad range of audiences.
Cart Abandonment Email To Prospective Shoppers
Sending an email to your prospects telling them that the cart is still waiting. This way a customer or prospect abandoning a shopping cart can be lured back, and save the sales. It could be an effective way to reduce cart abandonment rates. Tell the prospective shopper that the shopping cart is still waiting and describe the benefits and discounts they will receive by placing the order.
Make Segmentation of Your Customers
Take some time to make the segments of your customers. Thus, you will be able to tailor your messages and emails based on each segmentation of the customers’ and prospects’ preferences. This particular effort can quickly boost the ROI (Return of Investment) of your business.
Moreover, segmentation of customers lets them feel you’re talking to them individually, and you care about their likes and dislikes. You will be able to obtain in-depth knowledge through segmenting them. This way, you get the psychological understanding to rule the customer purchase decisions.
Extract Full Benefit From FOMO
Make sure you’re creating a sense of urgency through your email campaign. People always have a fear of missing out (FOMO) on something. That could be your perfect weapon to draw sales from your customers or prospects. Be a little thoughtful — let your customers know when the special offer ends or how much time left to make the purchase.
Moreover, if any product stock is running low, persuade them to buy theirs before it stocks out. Through email reminders, there’s a probability you can bring back a shopper to place the order they abandoned before.
Appreciate & Reward For Your Email Subscribers
Appreciate your email subscribers by rewarding them with special discounts and offers. The ones open the emails and click the link to your products or make any purchase, give them an extended offer. To the newly email subscribed customers — send them a message with special discounts or attractive coupon codes for placing their first order.
Provide subscribers with advance access to all the sales events. Let them know they are your priority, and their orders will be ahead of others. Appreciating and rewarding can help you grow your email subscribers’ list, which can easily lead to a significant increase in sales in this holiday season.
#5 Social Media Campaign
The eCommerce industry is dependent on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., especially to reach a wide range of customers. Instagram or Pinterest is providing a direct sales option that links to your online store. You can boost and promote your product’s post and advertise it easily to your followers. Here are some tips I would recommend to prepare your online store for this holiday season:
Build Partnerships With Influencers
Build a partnership with social media influencers to promote your products and offers. In the busiest hours of the day, people hardly miss checking their social media feeds. Customers’ trust can simply skyrocket if they find out their favorite social media celebrity is talking about your product.
Not Hollywood celebrities, but micro-celebrities with 10-20k followers are familiar amongst people these days. These micro-celebrities are known as Insta-celebrities on Instagram. They are often seen advertising products through their posts, stories, or IGTV videos. These celebrities are also known as micro-influencers.
Build partnerships with these micro-influencers and let them promote your products on their social networking pages. It won’t cost you much, but it will kickstart your holiday sales.
Start Building A Momentum In Advance
Develop strategies beforehand to build momentum that will carry out through the significant holidays like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and such. Consider Installing a countdown clock on your store site to create a sense of urgency in your customers of how much time is left to buy gifts. This psychological game has proven to always boost sales.
Moreover, you can spend more on advertising and promotions during the peak hours of holiday shopping. Create a calendar for yourself as a reminder of what and when you will post and how it will go parallel with your marketing strategies.
Create Eye-catching Social Media Content
The downside of online purchases is that customers don’t get a chance to experience the product in real. A blurry image of the product creates confusion about whether to order or not. Promote eye-catching social media content like high-res product photos and videos to attract your target audience.
Hire a professional product photographer for your product photoshoot. Though it’s costly sometimes. If you have a smartphone with a high definition camera, you can take images of your product all by yourself. There are many freelancing companies that will easily help you edit your photos at lower costs.
Carefully Observe The Trends
It’s easier to sell a product that people want and have sentimental value than to sell what you are offering. Make data-backed decisions based on the research on the customers’ purchase pattern rather than assuming what to promote on your social media platforms.
You can easily use tools like Google Trends through which you can study ongoing trends and consumer sentiment. Your center of focus should be on the prospects that fit the characteristics of your future customer profile. Find out:
- The problem that bothers them the most
- Desired solution
- Can you solve the problem?
If you are ready to solve their problem, then time for you to approach them and let them know what you have.
#6 Prepare Your Fulfillment, Shipping, and Distribution Channels
Customers ordering a product online prefer fast delivery at a shipping cost as cheap as possible. The holiday season is a crucial time. During the peak shopping time, you won’t be able to fix management and operational issues other than concentrating on customers.
No matter if it’s the rush of Black Friday or Christmas, you don’t want to let any of your customers down. So, you must prepare your inventory now and if product restocking is needed instead of doing it at the peak sales hours. Here are some strategic ways to reconstruct the management of your inventory, shipping, and distribution sectors in this 2020 chaotic holiday season:
Be Ready To Fulfil Customers’ Demand – Reinforce Inventory
You don’t want to run out of your product stock amid the holiday sales frenzy. So, you need to rearrange your inventory. You must obtain in-depth knowledge about your management as well as the market.
- Trends that are currently on fire in the market
- Suppliers well-stocked or not
- Inventory well-supplied to meet delivery demand
- Is there any temporary storage you need, and can you afford it? Or can you create more space at your present warehouse?
You need to reinforce your inventory before you prep your eCommerce store for the upcoming sales rush. Remember, receiving customers’ orders is just part of your business. Production, delivery, customer support, and shipping in time all are equally important. Altogether, these are the pillars of any business.
Provide As Many As Shipping Options Possible
As one size doesn’t fit all, then one strategy might not work for everyone as well. It certainly goes with shipping options in your business too.
What are the popular shipping methods usually seen in business?
- Within 2-3 or 5-7 working days
- Second-day shipping
- 24/48 hours
- Free to pick-up in the store
- Free shipping
- Free shipping over a target amount spent
- Pay extra to get a quicker shipping
Some might happily pay extra for a quicker delivery, or some might not even buy from you until you are not providing free shipping. So, you must give your customers as many options as possible. Keep the delivery and pick up option open. To avoid customer dissatisfaction, make the shipping easier for them.
Automation of Order Fulfillment
You may not have enough in-house resources to handle the increasing demands of the products you are selling. You surely don’t want to disappoint your valuable customers or prospects by running out of product stock or delaying shipment.
It’s alright, and you need not worry!!
In this 2020 holiday season, partner with one or more fulfillment companies or integrate third parties to automate your order fulfillment. A fulfillment company enables you with products, warehouse, packaging, shipping, and even return orders. This way, you won’t run out of inventory and meet your customers’ demands and make the shipment on time. You don’t need to rent space for a warehouse or double your employees for a few months anymore to handle the sales and shipping rush.
#7 Integrate The Right Customization Solution
If you are a custom product business owner, you already know how vital the customization solution is for your business. Finding and integrating the right customization solution into your business is not easy. There are hundreds of customization solutions for businesses on online platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, etc. Choosing the right solution for your business could be difficult.
From many, Inkybay – Product Customizer has a strong reputation in the eCommerce industry. It is considered a web-based ultimate self-customization solution for the custom product business owners and their customers.
Inkybay offers a wide range of self-customization options for your customers. Customers get the ultimate liberty to select products from the customization interface, choose sizes, edit colors, add objects like logo, fonts, graphics, etc. It also allows sideways customization. The best thing about Inkybay is that after the customer places the order, you will receive print-ready vector files (SVG/PDF).
Inkybay offers a wide range of product customization solutions such as – toothpick, T-shirts, bar blades, Pendrive, house and business signs, sublimation, laser engraving, etc. Even luxurious cars or house interiors can be designed using Inkybay.
2020 started in a very tragic way for most people around the globe. Consumer sentiment has dropped unexpectedly. Covid-19 pandemic has impacted life and financial solvency. A study showed, in the United States, consumers prefer less expensive products to save money now.
So, it’s clear how crucial this holiday season is for the retailers to generate sales and boost revenue. Put yourself into the shoes of your customers and try to understand the ongoing condition of the lives of people. Try to understand their psychology. You must prepare your eCommerce store to support your customers and prospects in a more empathetic way in this 2020 holiday season.
In this challenging time of the pandemic, boosting sales and revenue should not be your only target. Instead, be compassionate and attend all your customers with the utmost importance and patience. Try your best to help them out with whatever problems they might face. Remember, your customers will only remember your hospitality and consider you first whenever they think of buying something online.
Happy Holiday Sales 2020.