How to prepare your online store for the holiday season?

A  well-thought-out plan and creative approach to such days as Black Friday or Cyber Monday are essential for any e-commerce store. Only a full stock of the most popular goods would not work here, though. Is your e-shop ready to generate maximum sales?

Before we start, just a little bit of statistics. Only several numbers to cover the scope and remind about the potential. Last year Black Friday online sales hit over $7.4 billion. Whereas Cyber Monday even came out on top with $9.42 billion brought by e-shop sales.

Opportunities for 2020? Even with the downfall of the global economy, this year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday e-commerce activity sparks promise to be different. Not without the COVID-19 pandemic impacts and forced changes in the shopping habits - shift towards online purchases- of course. Experts predict that e-tailing sales for 2020 in general will reach $4.13 trillion. Get ready. Or maybe you are already ready? Let’s see.

To make the most of the upcoming shopping weekend, there is no need to reinvent the wheel and think up something extraordinary. Trust already tested methods.

WEBSITE. Prevent your customers from your ERRORS

First of all, even before kicking off with sales communications, it is crucial to take care of your website. And it is all not only about the product, hard-to-resist offers, lovely banners or engaging texts.

Primarily, it is about the technical side of your online store. If the web traffic doubles, will your servers cope with it? Although the number of requests at once has to be huge to crash your site, nevertheless, extra caution is always a good idea. Particularly, if you are relatively new on the market. So, make sure your host can handle the spike.

TIP! You can test the load capacity of your server using, for example, k6. Or simply reach out to your hosting provider to double-check if everything runs smoothly. 

What about your website speed? Keep an eye on it! Every additional second of waiting adds to growing irritation and increases the possibility of losing your customer. The websites delivering content instantly and without delays have:

  • better user experience
  • better user retention
  • better conversions
  • more sales!

Did you know that according to Google, only two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability? Just TWO SECONDS. Does the website of your internet shop pass this barrier?

Depending on the case study results, decreasing your page speed by at least two seconds can boost conversions by 66%.

TIP! Get to know what Google thinks about your website. Check it at PageSpeed Insights. Have a free test of your website and enjoy numerous suggestions on how to improve it 

Apply any maintenance needed. Take care of your online store’s scalability and stability. Prevent your customers from unpleasant technical bugs, too long page loading, unnecessary frustration and shopping cart abandonment.

TIP! Also, you can monitor the overall performance of your website using, for example, Pingdom, which will instantly notify you in case there is any downturn.

MOBILE. Seamless shopping experience

It is not a secret that in many cases, mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic. Therefore, checking and monitoring the mobile performance of your website is essential.

In 2019, on Black Friday 24% of website traffic came from mobile, on Cyber Monday it accounted for 18%. This year the convenient couch-commerce trend is likely to outpass previous statistics.

Last year Shopify revealed that in 2019 businesses using their service saw mobile or tablet transactions account for 69% of all Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Only 31% made purchases through the desktop. So, having user-friendly and responsive mobile performance is a must.

TIP! To check if your website runs well on mobile devices, test it through, for example, Mobile-Friendly Test Tool or GTmetrix. Run tests, identify the errors to fix and get prepared for the mobile-related jump.

Sometimes desktop and mobile experience might vary, even on the same page. Different layout, different buttons calling to action. And there is a solid reason behind. Mobile design is different from desktop; it has less space and has to be extra convenient to navigate. And yet contain all the necessary information.

To understand your mobile users and offer them the best experience possible, you can:

  • use any tool of your choice to gather analytics about your website performance.
  • construct and trace your visitors’ journey on your website. This way, you will know which pages require the biggest attention.
  • get help of website heat maps to identify which parts of your pages are TOP performing and have the biggest engagement, or are irrelevant to your visitors. 

You can compare your visitors behaviour when coming through desktop or mobile, identify differences and apply modifications.

Get rid of any extra information your pages contain. Make it clear, simple and super easy to navigate.

CHECKOUT. Make your customers check, not go out

On Black Friday and Cyber Monday competition is… ENORMOUS. If you do not eliminate any extra barriers on your website and put additional efforts to keep the customer until the very successful purchase... no worries, your rivals will do it for you.

Checkout stage is one of the parts that must be as simple to use and clear as possible. Do not give your shoppers a reason to leave your site. How to do it? How to improve your checkout?

These are three major technical aspects to take into account when preparing for spikes on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any other big event.

Even the best marketing tactics and sales strategy will not work if your online store is not ready to welcome everyone interested in your production. Make it as simple as possible.

Therefore, after you prepare your site… then the next question comes into the spotlight: HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR PRODUCTS?