It’s the calm before the holiday storm, and there’s no better time to get your online business ready! Here are five ideas / actions to get your business and e-commerce website primed for the holiday season.
Assess Your Inventory
Heading into the holidays, it’s imperative that you assess your existing inventory. Review your sales data and then determine if you have enough inventory on hand to fulfill orders in a timely fashion. If not, stock up on popular SKUs now. If you wait until early December to reorder, you may incur rush shipping charges, or have to pay a higher cost per piece from your vendors for smaller-quantity orders. For less popular SKUs, update your website to indicate “limited quantities available” and consider discounting the merchandise to spur sales.
Iron Out the Kinks in Your Website
E-commerce websites have a funny way of acting up during the holiday rush. Start troubleshooting today to minimize the hiccups that traffic surges can bring. Do your images load quickly? Do all your links work? Is your chat interface user-friendly? Is your payment processor secure? Are order confirmation emails reaching customers? Once you have all the kinks ironed out, go a step further. Have a digital marketing expert on call to solve any unforeseen issues.
Determine Which Payment and Shipping Options to Offer
You need to provide enough payment and shipping options to meet the needs of a majority of your customers without costing your business too much money and time. When it comes to payment methods, you are charged fees for every credit card and online wallet transaction, and those fees vary by networks. There are also fraud and dispute policies to consider. When it comes to shipping providers, you must make decisions regarding packaging materials, customs forms, pick-up and delivery services, carrier rates, insurance coverages, ease of tracking, and lost package procedures. Do your research and choose the payment and shipping options that make the most sense for your business – and that will perform reliably through the busy holiday season.
Take Control of Your Online Reputation
Many business owners make the mistake of opening up multiple social media accounts and not carving out daily time to monitor them. Choose one for your business and close all the others. Then commit to managing that one social media account exceptionally well. Build your brand awareness with high-quality content. Monitor online brand mentions. Acknowledge reviews. Answer questions. If you are too swamped to do this, hire a part-time social media manager through the holidays.
Decide Your Holiday Hours
Your online store is open for business 24/7/365, right? It can be, but only if the profit you’re making during your around-the-clock hours is significant. Otherwise, set holiday hours. Studies show that time away from work is good for productivity and morale. Be sure to post holiday hours on your website so visitors know what to expect. Examples include “Live chat is available 8 a.m. – 12 midnight EST.” or “Please note that any orders received after 2 p.m. PST on December 24th may not be shipped until January 2nd.”
The holidays will be here before you know it. There are five important moves you need to make in preparation for this hectic time: assess your inventory, iron out the kinks in your website, determine which payment and shipping options to offer, take control of your online reputation, and decide your holiday hours. Addressing these issues now will help to minimize business blunders and maximize profits.