The holiday shopping season is a major opportunity to increase sales and attract customers. And though a majority of retailers focus on Black Friday, more customers are starting to shop well before October’s end.
Last holiday season, consumers spent 80.22 billion U.S. dollars online, with ecommerce sales expected to increase nearly 16% this year. Is your ecommerce store prepared for the onrush this shopping season brings?
First, find out the key sales dates for holiday shopping. Then, increase your revenue and keep customers coming back with 5 questions to prepare your ecommerce store.
Holiday Shopping: Key Dates
As traffic slows between June and August, savvy retailers spend summer preparing for holiday sales. More than half of holiday shoppers begin before October’s end, and with summer coming to a close, now is the time to ready your site.
Check out the following calendar for key holiday sales dates. Targeting a few dates will help you choose where to maximize your time, and focus.
2017 Holiday Shopping: Key Dates
- Sep 4: Labor Day (Marks the end of summer and beginning of back-to-school)
- Oct 31: Halloween (4th largest ecommerce sales holiday)
- Nov 11: Veteran’s Day
- Nov 23: Thanksgiving
- Nov 24: Black Friday (The average shopper spends around $400 on Black Friday)
- Nov 27: Cyber Monday
- Dec 11: Green Monday (The largest day for online sales in December)
- Dec 16: Free Shipping Day
Holiday Shopping: 5 Questions to Boost Your Online Sales
Now that you’ve picked your key sales dates, the following questions will focus your efforts; to enable seamless purchasing, boosting online sales and winning customers.
Depending on your greatest area of need, this process can take anywhere from a few weeks for a content overhaul, to 6–8 weeks for mobile optimization, to 3 months or more for an infrastructure change. Taking stock of your needs well before the season is your best chance to get ready for the holiday rush.
1) Is my site appealing and up-to-date?
It takes about 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about your website. With 94% of first impressions related to design, there is no better time than now to ensure your site makes a memorable first impression.
That’s how fast it takes a user to decide if they’ll stay or leave your site.
Take stock of the layout, imagery, and content on your site. An effective site is built around delivering the best possible user experience (UX) to clearly guide customers to action. High-quality product photography and action-driven copy work together to convey your brand persona which is key to setting your store apart.
Bonus: search engines favor websites that are regularly updated. Updating content—whether tweaking product descriptions or changing out your visuals—will not only refresh your image for customers, but on search engines, too.
2) How fast is my site load time?
According to Kissmetrics, 47% of people expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. With the onrush of online visitors this holiday season, your storefront must be prepared to handle all the traffic.
40% of people will leave your site if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less.
Work with your developers to load test your site in advance of the holiday season. Stress testing your store in summer, a slower time for retailers, will help you get ahead of the holiday rush.
3) Is my website mobile-optimized?
Spending on mobile devices during the 2016 holiday season reached 17.12 billion U.S. dollars. Make sure you’re not missing out on a slice of these sales by optimizing your site for mobile.
Optimizing for mobile means more than compatibility; it means ensuring intelligent site and URL structure for mobile, giving your customers a fluid brand experience between devices. At Miva, our Professional Services team designs all merchant sites with the user—and this omnichannel experience—in mind. If you aren’t on Miva, make sure your design team is up-to-date with the best design practices well before the holiday shopping season hits to capitalize on the increase in traffic.
4) How fluid is the checkout process?
Oftentimes, customers abandon their carts because checkout takes too much time. Navigate your site from a customer’s perspective to check for kinks. Features such as MivaPay and one page checkout help expedite the process.
28% of users will abandon their shopping cart if presented with unexpected shipping costs.
Another conversion killer? Unexpected shipping costs. During an already busy shopping season, customers expect to receive their items fast and for free. Make free shipping work for you with these 6 strategies to maximize profits from free shipping, and then learn how to add it to your store in this short video.
5) Am I sufficiently staffed and supported for the holiday rush?
As fast and appealing as your storefront can be, it’s equally as important to optimize your workflow. Holiday shopping is a time-sensitive event; delaying delivery or, worse yet, missing a deadline could spell out a loss in customers.
Expect a major spike in traffic and sales this holiday shopping season and beef up your processes and staff. Stock up on your hot-ticket items and work with your trusted ecommerce partners to deliver the best possible product, and experience, for your customers.
Holiday Shopping: We’re Here to Help
Planning for the holiday shopping season can be overwhelming. By readying your online store well in advance, you can ensure that your site—and team—are prepared to deliver a seamless experience for all.
Our Professional Services team is at the ready to help your ecommerce store make the best impression, turning new visitors into lifelong customers. In addition, our Professional-level Managed Account Program can provide the right support for your ecommerce needs.