Practical Ecommerce

Holiday Tips for 2010, Part 4

The 2010 holiday season is nearly here. With that in mind, we are publishing a few good holiday-selling tips each week. Our fourth installment, provided by experienced ecommerce professionals, is below.

Test for Usability Issues

“Find usability issues by using new crowdsourcing services like uTest. Make sure your site isn’t standing between you and lots of holiday sales. If you want to mimic the behavior of your site’s users, there is no better way than to use a large pool of everyday Internet users.

“Crowdsourcing platforms like uTest give you the ability to send lots of users to your website and quickly see where they have problems. Remember that what is obvious to you, isn’t obvious to your customers. Never before has such a powerful and real-world testing system been available to everyday online merchants. If you already know of site issues like poor image quality or incomplete descriptions, the power of the crowd can help there as well. Fixing those things on your own can take a lot of time.

“Services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or services built on top of it like ScalableWorkforce.com can be very handy in helping you get those issues handled in just a day or two. For more intense design tasks, try crowdSPRING or 99designs.”

Stephanie Leffler
CEO
Juggle.com

Have a Backup Plan in Place

“Get your backups in place. If possible, get a backup for every crucial piece of equipment or software in your business. If you do your own fulfillment, make sure you have a backup printer in case yours dies. Buy postage online? Make sure you can sign up with a competitor in an instant if yours suddenly has technical issue. What would you do if your box supplier suddenly goes bankrupt? Most of us receive 40 to 60 percent of our annual sales in a six-week timeframe around the holidays. You simply cannot afford to have any disruptions during this time of year. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

Jamie Salvatori
Owner
Vat19

Revive Last Year’s Landing Page URLs

“Search engines value age and link popularity, and brand new pages with brand new URLs have neither. Build from past successes rather than starting from scratch every year by hosting holiday content at the same URL year after year.

“For example, if 2009’s holiday landing page was hosted at www.example.com/holiday/, update the content at that URL with the 2010 campaign to take advantage of any links pointing to last year’s campaign. If the 2009 content continues to have archival value, move the old content to a new URL to make room for the new. If the 2009 URL had the date in it (like www.example.com/2009-holiday/) then create a new URL at www.example.com/holiday/ and 301 redirect the old date-based URL to the new URL.”

Jill Kocher
SEO Manager
Groupon

Spice It Up With Holiday Flair

“Spice up your site and your brand with a little holiday flair to keep with the spirit of the season. Even online shoppers can get stressed out and associate those negative feelings with your brand; little visual cues that remind shoppers of what the holiday is all about helps put them in a happy place.”

Jimmy Rodriguez
Chief Technical Officer
3dCart

Mind Your Store Year-Round

“Don’t just focus on holiday promotions or the frenzy around Black Monday. Make sure you are doing the things that will make your business successful year-round.

“Manage your inventory, respond to customer requests, ship promptly, pay bills promptly, watch your marketing campaigns, do weekly promotions, and post to social media. In addition, be sure to stock up on inventory, staff appropriately for the season, create holiday specials, and so forth. But, never lose sight of the core things that make your business run smoothly.”

Dale Traxler
CEO
Beaded Impressions, Inc.

Got a great holiday idea? Email Kate Monteith at kate@practicalecommerce.com.

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Andrew August 20, 2010 Reply

    Great tips once again Practical Ecommerce, I really respect the content you guys are putting out for merchants leading up to the holiday season. Thank you.

  2. Elizabeth Ball August 25, 2010 Reply

    I really appreciate these tips and especially like Jill Kocher’s suggestion to use the same holiday URL to keep links and to do 301 redirects to new dated URLs to save SEO work.