The 2010 holiday season is nearly here. With that in mind, Practical eCommerce is publishing a few good holiday-selling tips each week. Our second installment, provided by experienced ecommerce professionals, is below.
Plan Ahead for Holiday Rush
“Make sure all of your website improvement projects are scheduled to end in September so that you have plenty of time to test and launch the projects to your ecommerce website in early October at the latest. Avoid launching new projects in November or December.
“Also, plan for inventory availability. Make sure vendors will commit to holding stock for you, or provide solid inventory forecasting plans to vendors so that you don’t run out of your bestselling products. In the case of long lead-time, be sure to have products on order to satisfy forecasted demand. Take seasonality into account. In many industries, holiday buying differs from the rest of the year.
“Operationally, prepare your facility for the increase in inventory coming in so that you are able to manage it, with personnel and all systems ready to handle the increase in volume. Shipping on time during the busiest days is very crucial, as customers expect to get their gifts on time.
“Have an escalation plan for marketing. Like any aspect of your business, all marketing and advertising aspects need to be planned in advance. Shoppers are much more likely to make a purchase in November and December than any other part of the year.
“Plan for the increase in phone orders and customer service questions. You can’t just hire additional reps in November and expect them to be knowledgeable in your business. Allow time for proper training.”
Include ‘Free’ in Meta Descriptions
“Enhance your meta descriptions so that they include any offer you are providing during the shopping season. The description tag is the first thing a user sees after the title tag on the major search engines, so make sure you’ve got a topnotch description that is going to tell the searcher to shop here.
“The word ‘free’ can be a great attractor. Including ‘free’ in your description tag, title and content, adds value to the customer. Consider offering free gift-wrapping, free shipping, or a free gift card for all purchase over a certain amount. Create an offer that will attract searchers during that first instance when they are looking for something you can provide.”
Articulate Shipping Cut-off Dates
“Have a shipping page that details clear ordering cut-off dates for your different shipping methods. Indicate any products that require special shipping considerations. And remember, there may be other holidays besides Christmas that need their own cut-off dates articulated.”
Freshen Up Your Gift Shop
“If you don’t have a gift shop on your website, be sure to create one before the fourth quarter begins. If you already have a gift shop, start making plans now on how you can improve upon it. Monitor your sales at least once a week by creating a campaign in your analytics program tied to the gift shop page URL.
“Keep the gift selection fresh by deleting any products that are out of stock. Highlight your best sellers and any other merchandise that you need to move. Make it simple for shoppers by categorizing your gift shop by price, category, or age (if appropriate).”
When Is Holiday Season for Your Business?
“When is your holiday season? Yours may be different than the traditional November-December dates.
“Because we sell jewelry parts, our season starts in September as our customers begin building inventory to sell to their customers in November and December. We stock up on all the seasonal parts and start promoting them aggressively in September. If we have done our marketing properly in September, we are busy filling reorders by November.”
Got a great holiday idea? Email Kate Monteith at email@example.com.