Ecommerce revenue reached $211.7 billion during the 2022 holiday shopping season. Even more striking: nearly 10% of those sales occurred in only two days. Consumers spent over $9 billion on Black Friday, and over $11 billion on Cyber Monday.
There’s no question that the holiday season has the potential to blow sales revenues for the first three quarters out of the water — if you’re well prepared.
So, is your ecommerce platform ready to scale up as 2023’s holiday shopping traffic surges? What about plans for promotions, boosting website performance and security, and inventory management for the holidays?
At Guidance, we want you to reach your revenue potential. That’s why we put together a handy holiday ecommerce readiness checklist that you can use to get ahead. It covers everything to ensure a spectacular holiday shopping season.
How to Prepare for the 2023 Ecommerce Holiday Shopping Season
Most retail companies spend a good part of each year planning for those final months. After all, there are a lot of big-spending holidays and shopping events to prep for in 2023, including:
- Thanksgiving – November 23rd
- Black Friday – November 24th
- Small Business Saturday – November 25th
- Cyber Monday – November 27th
- Hanukkah – December 7th to December 15th
- Christmas – December 25th
There are also opportunities for pre-season sales, post-season shopping, and everything in between.
Our holiday checklist enables you to get ready for everything. It covers:
- Inventory and supply chain management
- User experience (UX)
- Holiday ecommerce marketing
- Web security
- Post-holiday strategies
No question, there’s a lot to prepare for. And one oversight, like slow page loading speed or friction at checkout, could stop a business from bringing in the game-changing revenue numbers it needs.
That’s why being thorough is so important, so let’s get started.
1. Inventory and Supply Chain Management
If the last three years have taught B2C and B2C companies anything, it’s that good supply chain management can make or break a business.
If your contracts with suppliers are not setup by now, you might not have the products and materials necessary for the busy holiday season.
Here’s what you should do to plan:
- Forecast demand. Look at last year’s sales and previous years to predict how much product is needed this holiday season.
- Talk to suppliers about lead time. They’ll also be busy during the holiday season, so find out when orders should be placed.
- Create a supplier backup plan. Create relationships with other suppliers in case the primary suppliers can’t meet demand.
- Set a reorder point. This allows you to automatically reorder items that are low in stock.
- Expand your shipping network. Doing this will create a buffer against supply chain challenges.
2. Website Performance and Scalability
Faster website speed can translate to higher conversions. According to research by Portent, a digital marketing company, ecommerce sites that load in one second have a three times higher conversion rate than slower sites.
Also ensure your site won’t crash when traffic peaks on those high-sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If heavy user load causes a website to fail, customers aren’t going to wait for you to fix it. They’ll buy from the competition instead.
Here’s what you can do to boost performance and scalability:
- Implement a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is a network of servers located around the globe. It speeds up load times because data doesn’t have to travel far. A CDN will also prevent network traffic jams.
- Conduct performance testing. Run load testing to find out how your ecommerce platform will behave at peak traffic times.
- Create a backup plan. Make sure the site is automatically backing up every day. Create a plan for getting your site up quickly if it does go down.
- Be ready to scale. Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, Optimizely, and Adobe Commerce can help your business scale with ease.
3. User Experience (UX)
The holiday shopping season might be the first time some of your customers land on your website, so you want to make a strong first impression. A great UX will also help to drive more conversions every time someone lands on your site to shop.
A website that offers an intuitive, clean user interface (UI) invites visitors to explore, shop, and buy. A cluttered site, on the other hand, can increase your bounce rate.
Guidance refreshed the UX design for Rio Grande, a wholesale jewelry supplier.
After the improvements, Rio Grande experienced improved site performance and has been able to offer customers a far better customer experience, translating to more sales and sustainable success.
Here’s what you can do to enhance the user experience on your ecommerce website:
- Create an intuitive UI for holiday shoppers. To get site visitors in the holiday shopping mood, create a festive UX design to use for the holiday season.
- Streamline your checkout process. Test your login forms, product pages, search functions, and checkout process now to ensure everything’s frictionless.
- Give customers the option for self-service support. 77% of customers view brands positively if they offer a self-service support option. Consider adding a chatbot and robust FAQs or help page to your website so customers can answer their questions before having to reach out.
4. Holiday Ecommerce Marketing
Plan your email promotions, ad campaigns, and retargeting strategies now!
This way you can spend the holiday season tracking performance and optimizing your marketing channels rather than scrambling to create all your content.
Here’s what you can do:
- Create social media content now. Have your marketing team start developing a plan for designs, content, and advertising on social media for each holiday and big shopping days.
- Develop email marketing strategy. Set up email campaigns to promote holiday deals and post-season offers.
- Plan a digital ad strategy. On top of creating holiday-specific ads, try to create landing pages for your ads to help boost conversions during the holidays.
5. Web Security
In 2021 on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, 4,151 ecommerce stores were hit by a massive cyberattack. The hackers stole customers’ personal data, including payment information.
Security and compliance matter all year. But, you don’t want your ecommerce platform to be vulnerable during the intensive holiday shopping season.
Here’s a holiday ecommerce guide for boosting security:
- Make sure all software is up to date. Software updates often contain security patches.
- Use an SSL certificate. This web security feature ensures all data that passes between the web server and the browser remains private.
- Improve access controls. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) to prevent fraudulent users from logging in. You can use adaptive MFA, so you’re only requesting additional credentials when a user appears suspicious or is new. That way, you’re not forcing your loyal customers to keep verifying their identity.
6. Post-Holiday Strategies
When the holidays end, there are still opportunities to impress customers and sell more.
Here’s how you can be ready to capitalize on this critical shopping window:
- Create post-holiday promotions. Decide on post-holiday sales and promotions. You can change them later based on inventory, but at minimum, develop a plan now.
- Make returns easy. Review returns policies to make sure they’re customer-friendly and live up to current expectations. Research shows that customers prefer plenty of options, including home pick-up for returns and instant refunds.
- Expand the customer service team. Consider adding to the team during the holiday season so you have enough people on staff to meet your customers' needs.
Partner With Guidance for Your Holiday Ecommerce Plan
The more prepared you are now, the more ecommerce sales your business is likely to see. Don’t wait for the seasons to change. Holiday shopping can start picking up in October, and there’s a lot of ground to cover, from inventory management to holiday marketing planning.
Take a big step toward holiday season readiness today by making sure your ecommerce platform is prepared for the holidays and partner with Guidance. Our experienced team can help with everything from conversion optimization to UX design.