Why Should You Optimize for the Holidays?
As per a report by Deloitte, 2023-2024 holiday season eCommerce sales are projected to grow from 10.3% to 12.8% year-over-year, with total sales accounting for $278 – $284 billion. Given the anticipated increase in volume of traffic and sales, and the whopping growth numbers, the last quarter of the year brings a massive opportunity for online retailers to offset some of their pandemic losses by boosting their holiday sales.
In fact, at Noibu, we see eCommerce brands experience an average of 9.25% increase in sessions during the holiday season and a 19.48% increase in Nov alone!
While the statistics look as promising as ever, making the most of this time comes down to optimizing your eCommerce store for the holiday rush and preparing to deliver flawless shopping experiences. With holiday shoppers eager to check out their carts and bring their wishlisted items home, you really can’t afford to lose out on those sales to a competitor because your site couldn’t handle the rush.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right into the best practices and tips to optimize your eCom store for the holidays:
Preparing Your Online Store for the Holiday Rush: Best Practices and Last-Minute Tips
You’ve probably streamlined your inventory for the holidays and have a bunch of promotional campaigns running at this point. However, if your online store is not optimized to fetch you the best results out of your operational and marketing efforts, all of it could be ineffective in making this your most successful holiday season so far. Let’s look at some best practices and tips to streamline your eCommerce store for the holidays and prepare for the impending rush.
Monitor Your Site for Technical Errors and Implement Hot Fixes
At Noibu, we’ve seen eCommerce brands witness a whopping 175% increase in website errors during the holiday season! It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as the massive influx of traffic is bound to lead to additional site performance issues and higher-than-average bugs due to integrations, third-party elements, and multiple new features.
But, this is not the time you can afford to lose out on sales to abandoned carts and stranded checkout processes. Instead, you want to stay on top of whatever issues your site is facing and resolve them proactively, in real time.
Dedicate your engineering team’s bandwidth toward monitoring your site for unexpected errors and implementing hot fixes to resolve them before they lead to any further revenue loss.
Noibu helps eCommerce brands across the world streamline their error monitoring processes, especially during the holidays when every small bug could have a significant revenue impact.
Noibu’s three-fold approach towards eCommerce monitoring ensures that bugs are:
Detected proactively, with teams being alerted in real-time to minimize impact on customers
Prioritized based on revenue impact, so they can be addressed efficiently based on criticality
Resolved in record time by providing all the necessary technical information needed to make the fix (down to the exact line of code)
In one of our recent episodes of The eCommerce Toolbox podcast, our guest Lisa Camm, Head of Digital Transformation at Fortnum & Mason, talks about how her team relies on Noibu during the Holiday season. As they go into a code freeze during this time, her team uses Noibu heavily to uncover site errors and address them in their fortnightly sprints, and ensure that the site runs smoothly when the peak traffic hits.
To experience how Noibu’s eCommerce monitoring can redefine how you detect and resolve errors, sign up for a free checkout audit to uncover what’s really happening on your site.
Improve Customer Service Accessibility
It’s not surprising to note that for 74.5% of eCommerce businesses, efficiently managing the customer service needs of the hugely anticipated rush is the second-biggest holiday season concern. And rightfully so! If you’ve spent thousands of dollars on stocking up inventory, running promotional campaigns, and optimizing your site for conversions, poor quality or inefficient customer service could hurt your potential holiday ROI.
Therefore, it’s wise to streamline all your customer service channels and prepare to resolve a much higher volume of queries during these busy months. Here are a few items you can add to your checklist to optimize your customer service efforts for the holidays:
Implement an AI-based chatbot and self-serve options that address common queries
Build a dedicated FAQs page for the holidays that can be accessed from the homepage
Keep all customer response templates updated with the latest holidays information
Optimize inquiry forms to obtain all customer information in the query upfront
Identify your most commonly used customer service channels and improve bandwidth across those
Extend customer support via social channels as well
Make Quick Tweaks to Your Site Copy and Design
To align with the general theme and sentiment of the holidays, make simple tweaks to your site copy that immediately grab buyers’ attention and make them stay. From adding certain design elements that evoke the feeling of holidays to editing the copy to share wishes, and promote relevant gifting products, use your digital real estate wisely to make the most of your holiday promotions and campaigns.
You can also include key information that shoppers usually look for on the homepage itself to improve accessibility and reduce overall shopping times. This could potentially include updated shipping timelines and pricing tiers, information on deals and promotions, and revised customer support timings.
Here’s an excellent example from Pottery Barn of how making small tweaks to the homepage copy can make a huge difference in elevating the aesthetic of the site, while providing all the relevant information shoppers would look for in one quick glance:
Optimize Your Website Speed
Did you know that more than 50% of customers expect a web page to load within 2 seconds or less and about 40% of them end up abandoning the site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load? Clearly, nothing kills conversions like a slow-loading website! This is true, especially during the holidays, when online shoppers are impatient and desperate to check out and receive their items in time. A delay of an additional second could cost you thousands of dollars in lost sales this time of the year.
To leave nothing to chance, make sure to be overly vigilant of your site speed and regularly monitor it for downtime, slow-loading pages, broken links, and overall performance during these two months. You are highly likely to experience these issues during the holidays when your site receives more than average traffic.
Enable Cart Abandonment Notifications
If there’s one time of the year when cart abandonment notifications can make a world of difference in your online store’s sales, it’s most definitely the holidays. Shoppers probably have tons of tabs open on their computers – browsing products, creating carts, comparing prices, calculating shipping, and very often, moving on with their days without making a decision.
Since these are high-intent shoppers who probably need the most minimal nudge to checkout those thoughtfully created carts, not reminding them to do so would be as good as leaving money on the table.
Create (or update) your cart abandonment notifications strategy to instill a sense of urgency that encourages potential shoppers to checkout before it’s too late. You can also include social proof in the copy by highlighting how many people have bought the particular item or simply remind buyers how soon the promotion is going to end. Either way, the aim should be to not lose touch with any shopper who expresses interest in your products by creating a cart.
Offer Express Shipping Options
Even if you don’t normally offer multiple shipment options, Holidays are normally the time when shoppers expect to receive their ordered items sooner than usual and are willing to pay more for it. Increasing your logistical bandwidth to offer express shipping options (such as same-day delivery) or tier-based shipping can go a long way in boosting your sales at this stage where time is literally money. You can even set a minimum shipping fee on all orders when 7-10 days away from big events such as Black Friday or Christmas.
Your eCommerce Store is Now Holiday-Ready!
As you wrap up your holiday season prep, these few last-minute optimizations can go a long way in ensuring you make the most of the anticipated rush spike. Shoppers have the highest purchase intent this time of the year. So, the key to boosting your conversion rate and average order value is delivering delightful shopping experiences. Therefore, regularly monitoring your site for any inconsistencies or broken experiences and making hot fixes can bring you a lot closer to your goal. On that note, here’s wishing you a successful holiday season for your eCommerce store!