2020 has definitely been a year for the history books for online stores, with COVID-19 and social distancing requirements impacting many aspects of people’s lives and hugely influencing consumers’ buying behaviors. Ecommerce sales have seen hyper-growth and while surveys find that consumers are still expecting to do some in-person shopping, online buying will be hectic.
Based on sales data from the Wix network of over 500,000 online stores worldwide, in August 2020, online gift stores already saw over 490 percent year-over-year growth in monthly revenue. This means that holiday ecommerce sales will be out of this world, all online businesses need to be prepared. Liat Karpel Gurwicz, Head of Strategic Marketing at Wix, outlines ten key steps in preparing your ecommerce business for the holiday season:
1. Diversify Your Suppliers
Make sure your source products from multiple, diverse suppliers – preferably located in different states or countries. This can help ensure you have a dependable selection of suppliers to rely on. If some suppliers need to close or sidder delivery delays, you can always ramp up orders from another supplier to help cover the load.
2. Plan and Stock Inventory in Advance
Most resellers have already stocked themselves for the holiday season, which is the right move. You want to stock well in advance of the busy shopping season. You can plan ahead by anticipating your customers’ needs by reviewing sales data for the past few holiday seasons, as well as for the first half of 2020. Use this information to make informed inventory decisions about which product assortment to stock.
3. Prepare Fulfillment Operations and Staff
It’s important to assess how social distancing and safety measures could affect your business management, fulfillment operations and staff. Most markets will have their own safety regulations in place, but even so it’s better to be as prepared as possible and have all the proper equipment necessary to make your shoppers feel safe. Be careful of hiring additional staff for the holidays as markets will have a max capacity to ensure proper social distancing, and one additional staff member can take away from an additional shopper.
4. Offer Both Delivery and Pickup Options
Make it easy for customers to buy from you and get their orders quickly and conveniently. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, offer curbside pickup and local delivery to make shopping safer and more convenient for your customers. This will also ease the burden on you and your staff for shipping and fulfillment during the busy holiday season.
5. Get Your Ecommerce Website Ready for the Holidays with Updated SEO
Make it easy for customers to find and ship your holiday promotions by:
- Clearly promoting seasonal offers and holiday deals. Use a banner or site badges to let your customers know your store is offering discounts.
- Provide a seamless buyer journey with optimized product pages, shopping cart and checkout flow.
- Update and clearly display your shipping and return policies so customers know what to expect.
6. Make Sure Your Payment Solutions Are Ready
If you are selling online for the first time, then make sure to connect a payment provider to your site and complete the account setup. Also be sure to check that your account has been approved by your payment provider and that you are eligible for payouts before running any holiday season sales. Lastly, you should do a few test purchases to make sure everything is working smoothly.
7. Stagger Marketing Efforts and Promotions
Plan and stagger your marketing efforts carefully so that you generate a good flow of ongoing sales instead of just a few big peaks. This will make it easier for you to manage and fulfill orders, and allow you to provide customers excellent service and timely delivery. It’s also important to plan your sales strategy based on when you want to generate sales peaks.
8. Don’t Overlook the Flash Sales
Flash sales are crucial to increasing sales, no matter what the promotion may be. Based on Wix data from ecommerce merchants who ran flash sales in 2020, on average, online stores increase monthly revenue by over 64,000 percent with a flash sale.
9. Establish Active Automation
Set up abandoned cart emails to re-engage with shoppers and encourage them to complete their purchase. Wix sites with active automations, like abandoned cart emails, get 2.7 times more visitors and 3.3 times higher turnover. These automated emails for abandoned carts remind shoppers about the products they were already considering from your site and help to close the deal.
10. Set Up Customer Service Response Rate Standards
Consumers want to reach you how and when they want to reach you. So offer multiple customer service channels. Make sure to offer dedicated customer support via phone, email, live chat, and social media, and the best practice would be to respond to all inquiries within 24-48 hours.
To turn shoppers into loyal repeat customers, you want to ensure that they have a positive experience on your site. By following these ten steps, you can ensure a positive holiday shopping experience for both you and consumers.