Is your e-commerce store ready for the holiday season? A 13-Step Checklist

26 November, 2023 by
Is your e-commerce store ready for the holiday season? A 13-Step Checklist
Lameco JSC

Introduction

Hey friends! The holiday season is almost here. For e-commerce sellers like us, this is the most wonderful time of the year! People spend more, shop more, and we get to make more sales. But we need to make sure our online stores are ready to make the most of this holiday season.

I'm going to walk you through a checklist to get your e-commerce store holiday-ready. We'll cover everything from inventory and delivery to marketing and customer service. Follow this 13-step checklist, and you'll be well on your way to record holiday sales! Let's get started.

Step 1: Take stock of your inventory

The holidays mean an increase in orders. So you want to make sure you have enough inventory to meet demand. Take a careful look at your inventory levels for your top-selling items. Look back at sales from last year's holiday season to forecast how much of each product you'll need.

It's better to overprepare and have extra stock than understock and lose out on sales! Aim to have 20-30% more inventory than your average months. Don't wait until the last minute - order extra inventory at least 1-2 months in advance.

Step 2: Expand your product selection

Along with having enough stock of your current products, consider adding new holiday-themed products or gift sets. Shoppers love to buy:

  • Holiday decor - Christmas trees, wreaths, lights
  • Gift sets - pre-packaged beauty/gourmet gift sets
  • Toys and games - for kids' wish lists!
  • Cozy home items - blankets, warm pajamas

Brainstorm seasonal products you can add to capture holiday demand. Just make sure to order holiday products early - by Halloween at the latest. You don't want to be waiting on backordered Christmas ornaments in December!

Step 3: Optimize listings for gifting

During the holidays, many shoppers look for gifts for others. Make sure your product listings are optimized for gift-giving.

For each product listing:

  • Highlight if it's a creative gift idea
  • Suggest who would like the gift (women, men, teens etc)
  • Show gift boxing/wrapping options
  • Provide gift notes and gift receipts

Adding a "Gifts" section or filter on your store can make it easier for shoppers to quickly find gifts. Optimize SEO with holiday keywords like "Christmas gifts" too.

Step 4: Offer holiday discounts and bundles

Holiday deals and discounts - what shoppers really look forward to! Plan special holiday offers like:

  • Sitewide sales - 20% off all orders
  • Category sales - 30% off toys
  • Product bundles - buy 3 get 1 free
  • Free holiday gifts with purchase

Make deals tempting to encourage larger order values! Announce deals and offers on social media, email, and your site. Time deals to coincide with big spending days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Step 5: Review shipping carriers and options

The holidays mean tons of packages to ship! Now is the time to review your shipping carriers and options.

  • Compare rates across carriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL
  • Negotiate discounts for volume shipping
  • Ensure you have fast shipping options
  • Set order cut-off dates to receive by Christmas
  • Update handling time in listings

Providing fast, reliable shipping gives customers confidence during the busy season.

Step 6: Beef up customer service

In the holidays you'll see a spike in customer inquiries - shipping questions, order issues, returns etc. Make sure your customer service team is ready to handle the increased volume!

  • Hire seasonal customer service reps
  • Expand hours - evenings and weekends
  • Set up holiday coverage schedule
  • Train reps on common holiday issues
  • Monitor social media for customer comments

Waiting 3 days for a response when gifts haven't arrived frustrates customers. Providing prompt holiday customer service leads to happy repeat buyers.

Step 7: Create festive site design

A quick and easy way to get your store ready for the holidays is to give your site design a seasonal makeover!

  • Add a holiday header image
  • Incorporate holiday colors - red, green, gold
  • Show Santa, reindeer, snowmen, gifts
  • Play Christmas music on site
  • Create gift guide and sale pages
  • Show seasonal store policies

Festive touches help shoppers get in the holiday spirit. But don't go overboard - keep site navigation clear.

Step 8: Send holiday emails

'Tis the season for holiday-themed emails!* Send emails to your customer list with:

  • Holiday promotions
  • Gift guides
  • Christmas countdown
  • Order deadlines
  • Shipping information
  • Holiday greetings and wishes

Time emails around big shopping days - Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Free Shipping Day, Super Saturday, Panic Saturday.

Personalizing holiday emails with customer first names increases open rates. Spruce up emails with holly, snowflakes and Santa hats!

Step 9: Create holiday social media content

Holiday-flavored social media content spreads seasonal joy to your followers while reminding them to shop. Share posts with:

  • Holiday product photos
  • Countdown to Christmas
  • Gift ideas for him/her/kids
  • Behind the scenes holiday prep
  • Holiday shopping tips or advice
  • Christmas memes and fun
  • Holiday deals and promos

Ramp up social posting starting in late November through Christmas week. Just stay true to your brand voice - you don't want overly salesy posts feeling like a hard sell.

Step 10: Run holiday PPC and retargeting ads

Paid ads are essential for getting your holiday deals in front of shoppers.

  • Create Google Shopping campaigns for holiday-related products.
  • Make holiday-themed Facebook ads with special offers.
  • Retarget site visitors with reminder emails and ads.
  • Bid higher on keywords with "Christmas", "holiday", "gift", etc.
  • Use shopping-related ad imagery - wrapped gifts, Santa.

Allocate a bigger holiday PPC budget to maximize sales, then scale back in January. The merry months are when paid ads really pay off!

Step 11: Partner With Influencers and Bloggers

Influencers and bloggers are great sources for gift guides, product reviews and holiday recommendations.

  • Identify influencers whose audience fits your products.
  • Send free holiday products for consideration in gift guides.
  • Ask influencers to create special discount codes.
  • Sponsor holiday giveaways on blogger sites.
  • Share influencer holiday content on your social channels.

Holiday influencer partnerships expand your reach and introduce your brand to new audiences. Focus on micro and mid-tier influencers with highly engaged followers.

Step 12: Create holiday email drip campaigns

Holiday email drip campaigns gently remind subscribers about deals, ship dates, and more. Drip campaign examples:

  • Day 1 - Share Cyber Week deals
  • Day 3 - Remind of order deadlines
  • Day 5 - 15% off blanket sale
  • Day 7 - Last chance for free Christmas delivery
  • Day 10 - One day left for Super Saturday sale

Space campaign emails a few days apart and time key messages around busy shopping days. Use urgency and scarcity to motivate customers to buy ASAP.

Step 13: Plan for post-holiday sales

The holidays aren't over when Christmas passes! Plan ahead for post-holiday sales and returns:

  • Announce year-end clearance sales.
  • Prepare holiday return authorizations and labels.
  • Offer New Year's coupons and promos.
  • Swap holiday site images for New Year's.
  • Share holiday sales recap and thank you.
  • Evaluate what sold well to adjust 2023 inventory.

Providing a seamless returns process and continuing sales into January keeps shoppers happy. Analyze holiday sales data to make improvements for next holiday season.

Conclusion

There you have it - a complete 13-step checklist to get your e-commerce store ready for a spectacular holiday season!

Following these tips will help you fully prepare your inventory, marketing, operations, and customer service for holiday sales success. Let me know if you have any other questions to make your holiday season smooth and profitable! Wishing you the merriest of selling seasons. 

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