Holiday Prep 2016 Tip List – Friendly last minute reminders heading into the busy holiday season

Oct 25, 2016 | eCommerce

Internal Preparations

You worked hard to get them to visit, don’t let poor communication and planning negatively impact sales. These are a few tips for keeping ops running smoothly:

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Customer Service & Fulfillment

Properly prep your customer service and fulfillment teams of all promotions and timing to ensure staffing is in place during high order volume and/or heavy demand.

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Review prior year's performance

Clearly outline products and promotional schedule with demand planners to ensure inventories will be there to support demand. Evaluate positions throughout the holiday season to avoid out of stock positions, especially on products in paid ads.

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Optimize Content on site

A lot of images are going up that should all be SEO friendly, with ALT text and specific file names. If you are diligent in SEO, organic search listings will communicate offers just as well as your paid ones. Make sure any new products, categories, and sales areas are showing up in your sitemap, properly linked in navigation.

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Site Inventory availability

Verify with your development team that inventory update feeds are working, properly buffered (more applicable to non-real time systems) and refreshing in a timely manner.

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Verify Analytics Tracking/Tagging

It’s important to verify current and newly created pages are being properly tracked in your analytics software/tooling.

Load Testing & Security

A server crash or security breach can be devastating not just this holiday but for holidays to come. Here are a few basic steps to take now that can help mitigate problems down the road:

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Load Testing

Be sure your network and development teams have properly tested the site and have contingency plans in place for traffic spikes. Properly plan out promotional campaigns to mitigate any concerns.

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Emergency Plan

Make sure your teams are familiar with site outage procedures and communications. Have a landing page ready to go with customer service instructions and contact numbers in case of any unplanned/planned outages.

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Site Security

Clearly display certifications and adherence to industry standards to comfort customers during their shopping experience. Double check your system’s compliance with PCI guidelines.

Email Frequency

You’ve worked hard to grow your email list and want to get the most out of it during the holiday season. Here are a few helpful hints:

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Increase Relevancy by Segmenting

Not every business has access to the data to build out completely dynamic, personalized emails. Look to leverage recent products or categories viewed, past item purchases, and demographic info to tailor a message to that segment.

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Review Send Frequency Leading up to Holiday

Companies that closely manage their promotional activity leading up to holiday typically see better open and click through rates during the season. Don’t overpower them before the holiday season.

Cart & Checkout Optimization

Be sure to run thorough testing on your checkout to prep for the rush with these helpful tips:

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Test Coupon Offers

Pay close attention to conditional coupons such as “buy one, get one” and “buy this, get this off”. These are especially prone to breaking when adding and removing items in the cart.

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Examine Shipping Communication

Customers want to know when they will receive the product and when the latest day to purchase in order to receive the product prior to holiday.

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Clearly Display Return Policies

Customers are very sensitive to return policies, especially with gifts during holidays. Customers want to know prior to purchasing, what your policy states.

Search Advertising

It’s always a good idea to review your ad campaigns to see how you can squeeze a little more efficiency out of your spend. A few things to help prep:

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Utilize Holiday-Specific Terms

Keywords like “gift ideas” or a product name plus the word “sale” are often low-volume throughout the year but have a big bump during the holidays. These are not only relevant, but potentially great for conversion.

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Bid Up For Increased Conversion

Compare the holidays to the time leading up to it, and you can see conversion rates surge. Bid up to capitalize on the increased conversion. Equally important and constantly overlooked… bid down as soon as you aren’t able to convert orders.

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Take Inventory Into Consideration

Both shopping and keyword campaigns should be adjusted based on inventory. Set up a way to proactively lower bids and take ad groups offline when inventory positions get low.

Competitor Research

It’s important to keep an eye on what the competition did in the past.

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Look Up Previous Emails

Most of us aren’t strangers to signing up for our competitors’ emails. Take a look through what they sent last year, and map out frequency, content focus, and offers.

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What Are My Competitors Doing?

It goes without saying, you need to be aware of your competitors’ offers this time of year. Look at your promotions through the eyes of your customer – you can’t create promote deals in a vacuum.

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What Did My Competitors Do?

Wayback Machine is a great way to see what the competition did last year. Review prior year pricing records of your competitors’ offers and pricing strategy on specific products.

Reach out to us to learn more about holiday preparedness and what we can help with for future holidays.