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The Ultimate Ecommerce Stores Survival Checklist for Holiday Season 2020

October 10, 2019

7 Min Read
Survival Checklist for This Holiday Season
Reading Time: 7 minutes

[UPDATED] Holiday Season 2019 is just around the corner. Have you started prepping up for the grandest sales of the year?

Is your website ready to take on the traffic surge that every ecommerce store experience during the season? These are some of the questions you might want to consider before putting up big sales on your store. If you’re ready, pull up your socks. It’s the time of the year when ecommerce stores make the most of the shopping frenzy. But, this madness requires some method!

I want you to have the best sales ever. After brainstorming for days and talking to experts in ecommerce, social media and SEO, I have compiled the following essential aspects that will turbo charge your holiday season revenues.

Here is a quick checklist to help you survive the upcoming holiday season:

1. Start Preparations ASAP

The most important action item is to understand the interests of your target customers so that you could come up with tactics that would attract visitors to your store and convert them into paying customers.

You should also decide the range of products that your store would offer during the holiday season. To sell this product range, a creative strategy is the basic requirement. This strategy could include waiver of shipping charges, competitive discounts and giveaways. A great trick is to offer volume discounts that slash the prices as the volume of the purchase go up.

Remember that you should plan all this BEFORE the holiday season. When the month of November begins, you might not have time to start planning.

Adel de Meyer, speaker, mentor and author at The Next Web, gave a brilliant piece of advice in the context of early preparation:

2. Deploy Chatbots To Maximize Sales

The great thing about chatbots is that they work 24×7 without any significant expenses. Online stores could use chatbots as the first tier of customer service. In addition, these intelligent shopping assistants are a great way of responding and nurturing potential leads that could be used after the holiday season.

Chatbots can be easily deployed on your store and take the pressure off from the human customer support agents. According to experts’ estimates, online stores could easily reduce about 29% of customer support expenses by opting for chatbots as the first line of customer service. This estimate could easily translate into billions in savings annually.

Let me illustrate the benefits of chatbots through a real-world example: SnapTravel, a company that allows users to discover and book hotels over messaging services has recorded over $1 million in revenue on Facebook Messenger in less than a year. For ultimate holiday season success this year, I strongly recommend deploying ecommerce chatbots at your store.

Here is a great tip from the #1 marketing influencer, Sam Hurley:

3. Marketing Automation Can Help You Earn Big

In general, a vast majority of clients buy at least one gift card for the holiday season. My question is: why are you missing out on this opportunity?

Many store owners simply ignore gift cards and other “boring” activities because it is too much work. For all such store owners, the good news is that marketing automation has matured enough to be an effective store improvement tactic this holiday season. By leveraging marketing automation you can offload tediously repetitive tasks to tools that would handle them more efficiently. This efficiency ultimately translates into revenues and enhanced brand visibility. You can automate email workflows, schedule social media posts, use predetermined email replies and automate Facebook ads for better reach.

Jennifer M Greenberg, a publisher and editor at ‘The Pink Armadillo’ gave her thoughts on automation:

4. Artificial Intelligence Is Your Ultimate Friend

Experts have long predicted the benefits and unlimited potential of the AI powered ecommerce solutions. AI is now used to generate personalized shopping experience for the visitors that results in better conversion. For store owners, these solutions form the basis of smart business decisions.

AI is used to add more power to product suggestions. In many cases, smart algorithms
judge the context behind the user query and generate much better matches that induce
visitors to seal the deal.

Holiday season offers the perfect backdrop for experimenting with AI powered shopping experiences. In many cases, the technology has matured enough to be easily deployed at online stores

According to a research by Accenture, “AI could potentially boost profitability rates by an average of 38% across 16 industries by 2035.”

5. Scale up the Hosting Plans (and The Revenues)

It is a sad fact that many online stores fail to stay live during the holiday season. Since the traffic increases exponentially during the last quarter, the hosting plan for the store is unable to cope up with the demands. The result is “Page Not Found” error that the online shoppers really hate to see!

An important part of your holiday season planning is a through review of the hosting plan that powers your store. Make sure that the current specification (CPU, RAM, Disk Space and Bandwidth) are able to deal with the projected traffic.

My advice to all ecommerce store owners is to migrate to a managed ecommerce hosting provider before the crunch of the holiday season. These hosting providers often offer real time resource scaling capabilities that ensures that as the traffic increases, so does the available resources.

Now remember that this rule applies to ALL supplies including packaging, labels, tapes and such materials that are essential to the holiday season operations.

6. Connect All Promotional Channels

You know  your customers and this include all past, current and potential customers. You know how to reach each segment. However, online stores often fail to leverage the full potential of their marketing capabilities simply because they overall an important fact:

All digital marketing channels should support each other.

Here are several common promotional channels that stores could leverage during the holiday season.

Email Marketing: Your email marketing strategy should be based on a thorough analysis of the customer segmentation. Each segment is different and require a personalize approach for improved message effectiveness and open rate.

Social Media: Holiday season campaigns are designed for social media channels. However, you need to work out which channels work for your store. Instead of diluting your efforts by targeting a host of social media channels, you should choose a few and focus all the efforts. Remember to coordinate your email marketing with social media marketing for maximum impact.

Affiliate Networking: Affiliate marketing is an excellent way of tapping new markets in minimum cost. You can expand the reach of your product line through your affiliates. The best strategy is to brief your affiliates with precise details of your offers including discounts and coupons. Remember to integrate email and social marketing into the mix.

Paid Advertisement: Plan and execute paid advertisement that focus for the most appropriate keywords for your products.  TheSocialMs and Kissmetrics have really good introductions to Facebook ads.

Partnerships: Work on partnering with businesses with similar and related product lines. You can offer coupons to your partners that they can include in their holiday season campaigns. This strategy brings in traffic from a wide range of sources with good potential of conversion.

Content Marketing: Holiday season content marketing requires careful thought. You need to decide a theme that will form the core of your content production efforts. Once you have the content, bring in email and social marketing to expand the reach of your content marketing efforts.

Q1. How to Improve Site Up time?

This should be your top priority if you are preparing for the holiday season. The site’s up time depends on the type of hosting it uses. For ecommerce stores, move to a dedicated server or a cloud host. In my opinion, cloud hosting is a better option for the holiday season sales because it is low cost and provides you a lot of freedom. You can try Cloudways for three days absolutely FREE. It offers five cloud hosts to choose from, each with its own pricing type.

Q2. How to Increase Sales During Holiday Season?

You have many options available to increase holiday season sales. The best way to start it is by experimenting. For example, you can promote through paid marketing, or try new channels for organic marketing.
Here are certain points you need to keep in mind:
-) Experiment with new ways of marketing your products. The more you market, the more people will see your product and eventually buy it
-) Make your website more pleasing for your visitors. As an ecommerce store, make sure you have the essential pages for your store.

Q3. How to Reduce Cart Abandonment Rate?

Cart Abandonment Rate is when a user leaves your cart in the middle of the buying process. This can happen if:
-) He is no more interested in your product.
-) He has found a better deal somewhere else.
-) You have some hidden prices displayed on the checkout page.
-) Discount code isn’t properly working.
There are ways to reduce it:
-) Be transparent with prices.
-) Add an exit popup asking his feedback.
-) Target him with remarketing emails.
-) Offer working discounts.

The Final Countdown

Now that you’ve read the article, you know how to go about this holiday season with a plan for success. Pull up your socks, put the pedal to the metal and give it your best shot.While the tips offered above are great,  you can always innovate new ideas to maximize sales.

First up, the right month. September is what I think is a good month to start your preparations. Not too late, not too early. Tweak up your website, try different things or strategies, and if they don’t work, you still have time to get back to the drawing board.

IMPORTANT: Your hosting provider should be reliable and trustworthy. Come November, make sure the provider has the potential to handle the herd of shoppers flooding in.

If you find out that your current provider can’t handle the load, Switch To Ecommerce Cloud Hosting And Grow Your Business.

Do let me know if this composition helped you in the comment sections below.

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Sajjad Shahid

Sajjad is an Ecommerce Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves helping out Ecommerce store owners, merchants and marketers in establishing their businesses and startups. Sajjad enjoys playing table tennis and cricket over the weekend.

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BFCM 2019