Ecommerce Marketing Tips For the Holiday Season

 In Ecommerce

The holiday season is estimated to make up anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of all retailers’ sales. Therefore, a successful Q4 is critical to the success of online retailers.

Here are some tips and considerations to guide your ecommerce holiday season, which you’ve hopefully already started planning and implementing:

Practical Considerations

Look at data from last year

If this is not the first holiday season for your ecommerce website, make sure to look at all data from last year. This is some of the most invaluable information you have to guide planning for this years holiday season. What worked last year? What didn’t work? Also, identify which days of last year were the busiest for you.

Also, consider looking at a competitors website at this time last year to see what kind of promotions or offers they were leveraging. You can use a tool like Wayback Machine to achieve this.

Make sure your website can handle the increase in traffic  

Can your website handle an influx in traffic? Spikes in traffic can put a toll on the server and increase page load times. Consider that 57% of visitors will abandon a page that takes 3 seconds or more to load. If you are not sure, talk to your hosting provider and be sure to optimize your website for speed months in advance.

Make sure you have enough inventory

Do you have enough inventory? You don’t want to run into fulfillment issues during the holiday season, or lose potential sales. Therefore, it is important to accurately forecast what products you will sell and plan inventory accordingly. 

Plan for an increase in customer service requests 

With a huge boost in traffic in orders, you can expect a corresponding increase in customer service requests: questions, orders, returns, etc. Staff accordingly.

Website Considerations

You must be mobile

With mobile usage continuing to increase, ecommerce websites that do not have a mobile optimized website risk losing customers daily, but especially during the holidays. If your website is not already optimized for mobile purchases, this should be your top priority! Why? The high percentage of online shoppers and search engines rank mobile websites higher for mobile searches.

Consider that in 2013, US sales over mobile devices on Black Friday leapt nearly 43 percent year-over-year, to 21.8 percent of all sales. Mobile sales on Cyber Monday made up 17.2 percent of total online spending (IBM).

Offer Competitive Shipping Options

Consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to shipping prices, even coming to expect free shipping, especially during the holidays. Last holiday season, about 66% off all ecommerce shipments were sent at the merchant’s expense (Practical Ecommerce). For more information, read: The Power of Shipping For Ecommerce.

Beyond competitive pricing, be sure to offer overnight or two-day shipping options to cater to last minute shoppers. Make sure you spell out shipping deadlines on your website clearly. For example, “order by Dec 20 to receive your package by the 24th”.

Display Return Policies Prominently

During the holiday seasons, customers pay extra attention to your return policy. Make sure your policy is clearly outlined and easily accessible. If possible, consider offering a more lenient or extended return policy for the holiday season.

Promotional Considerations

Plan Promotions

Promotions are everything during the holiday season. Start brainstorming promotions centered around the 4 key periods of the holiday shopping season:

  1. The beginning of November
  2. Black Friday/Cyber Monday
  3. The beginning of December
  4. Final days before Christmas

Offer Gift Cards

Gift cards are a great way to increase revenues without the need to add more goods to inventory. Consider offering both a digital and hard copy versions. The digital version is great for last minute shoppers who need something immediately.

Want to get holiday customers to come back to website? Get customers back to your website after the holidays are over by offering a free gift card. For example, give customers a free $5 gift card if they spend $50 or more in December.

Increase Email Frequency

Consumers have come to expect an increase in promotional emails around this time of year. Email marketing can offer loads of traffic and even a great ROI. Leverage your existing customer database to provide them with exclusive offers.

Use Paid Search Ads and Remarketing

With gift related queries increasing rapidly during this time of the year, adjust your campaigns to include holiday-related keywords like “gifts” or “presents”. Update remarketing ads to feature a holiday graphic theme.


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Lindsay Brown
Lindsay Brown is Operations Director of the Small Business Center of Excellence (SBCoE). Lindsay is Director of Digital Marketing and a partner at Modern Marketing Partners. Lindsay specializes in startups of all types, along with experience with technology brands. She is Google Analytics and AdWords certified, earning a Bachelor of Science from the Illinois State University.
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