eCommerce Success

Get your ecommerce store ready for the holiday season

If you, like many ecommerce businesses, make a significant chunk of your sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, then you want to make sure your store is optimized to increase sales and reduce abandoned carts. 

To do that, you need to make sure you’re converting as many shoppers as possible through a smooth checkout experience without breaking the bank.

To help you achieve your sales goals during this time, we've created an ecommerce Holiday Readiness Plan for you! Below, we cover everything from inventory planning to designing an optimal checkout experience, and even tap into actionable holiday marketing and sales strategies for your online store. Let's dive in! 

Make sure you have enough inventory on hand 

A successful holiday season starts with striking the right balance between having enough inventory on hand to meet demand without being oversupplied.  

Here’s how to make sure you have enough stock to sell during the busy holiday shopping season.  

Set up inventory forecasting 

If you are selling through multiple channels—be it your own online store, Amazon, Walmart, wholesalers, etc.— and are still keeping track of your inventory through spreadsheets, now is the ideal time to invest in inventory management software, like Cin7, Inventory Planner, Linnworks, etc. You won’t be able to set up an inventory forecast without it.  

Inventory forecasting is all about gathering insights that can help you predict future sales based on previous sales records and sell-thru rates. These predictions will help you when stocking for the upcoming busy season.

However, as shown in this Amazon case study, forecasting should be integrated into multiple levels of your business for the best chance of success. This includes strategic, tactical, and operational decisions. Don’t make the mistake of treating forecasting as an afterthought.

Pro Tip:  If you are reading this post in September or October, it might be too late to implement inventory forecasting for this holiday season. It is best to put this into action over the spring and summer months, so bookmark this post for next year!  


Negotiate terms with your suppliers

If you’ve been working with the same suppliers for a while, now is the perfect time to negotiate more favorable terms with them. Here are some tactics you can leverage to negotiate a better rate


Remember: It is not always about getting price breaks. Sometimes, you can “win” by getting more favorable payment terms that improve your cash flow cycles.  


Deliver an excellent customer experience

If you are like most ecommerce entrepreneurs, it has been a while since you approached your brand through the lens of a customer. With so much competition during this time, as well as a rise in demand for better customer experiences across ecommerce brands, this is the perfect time to audit the experience of buying a product (and all of your processes) from top to bottom.   

Pro Tip: If it is impossible for you to remain objective, asking a trusted friend or hiring a “secret shopper” to go through the experience can be a solid alternative. 


What to look for in your site audit 

  • Does your website load quickly? 
  • Is it intuitive to find what you are looking for and add an item to the cart? 
  • What’s the checkout experience like? Do you have “1-click checkout,” or do you have to fill out a ton of form fields that may or may not be necessary?” 
  • What’s the post-purchase and unboxing experience like? 
  • Are they getting the necessary support after purchasing, including follow-up emails about order tracking and incentives for future purchases?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, then you're good to go! 

If you answered no, then you might see an increase in abandoned carts during this time. 


Eliminate friction with one-click checkout

The fewer hoops your customer has to jump through to purchase your product, the more likely you are to get the sale. This isn’t rocket science, but the number of ecommerce brands that still require lengthy account creation processes, have too many form fields, and aren’t upfront about taxes and shipping costs are not doing themselves any favors.  

Consider using a one-click checkout solution like Rally Pay. The reason Rally works well is because the layout is a clean single column, which limits scrolling. It does not have pop-ups, and it seamlessly fits into your site including your existing tech and payment stack. So, you never have to worry. 

An added benefit of one-click checkout is that it can reduce the number of abandoned carts, which typically increases during the holiday shopping season.

While you can’t convert every visitor into a buyer, here are some additional best practices for increasing your conversion rate at the point of purchase (even if you don’t have one-click checkout functionality).  

  • Eliminate unnecessary form fields 
  • Allow for guest checkout instead of requiring user accounts
  • Include product thumbnails to remind customers of what’s in their cart
  • Be transparent about all costs and times upfront, including providing shipping timelines
  • Offer multiple, flexible payment options
  • Include progress indicators 
  • Send retargeting emails with discounts to entice visitors to revisit their cart


Add a buy now, pay later option 

Did you know that Klarna had 7.9 million total users in 2020? And that number is only increasing, particularly among Gen Z shoppers. 

You want to make it as easy as possible for a customer to buy from you instead of from Amazon, a direct competitor, etc. Offering BNPL options does that. 

The best part: if you use Stripe and Rally, you can offer Klarna as a BNPL option in your checkout. 


Optimize site speed

The highest eCommerce conversion rates happen on pages that load in less than 2 seconds. If your product pages take longer to load, visitors will leave, and your conversion rate will suffer. 

For example, a study by Akamai of 10 billion visits to top retail sites revealed that even milliseconds matter for mobile shoppers. The results indicated that over 50% of mobile customers left a page that took longer than 3 seconds, and a 100-millisecond delay hurt conversion rates by 7%.

Not to mention, you’ll also lose out on new organic search traffic, particularly on mobile devices, as Google continues to prioritize site speed as a ranking factor. 


Get shipping and order fulfillment dialed in

There are few things more frustrating than finding the perfect gift online, only to be duped by “extra costs” right at checkout, or worse, buying the item and it taking forever to arrive.  

This starts by being transparent about shipping costs and timelines from the get-go. 

If you don’t have your fulfillment and shipping processes in order, you risk upsetting customers and damaging your brand’s reputation. Not only are they unlikely to purchase from you again, but they could leave a public, negative review that deters others from buying from you.


Make sure you are staffed appropriately

If you don’t have the right staff or enough hands on deck to facilitate the orders and handle higher support volume, then you won’t be able to manage an increase in sales. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough seasonal support staff ready for when the holiday orders start pouring in.

For example, Workable’s research indicates that it can take an average of over 24 days to fill a warehouse or retail position. The busy holiday season can make it even more difficult. Don’t wait until the last minute to search for seasonal support staff, or you may not be able to find someone in time.


Where to find seasonal staff 

Here are some places where you can find and list seasonal retail and warehouse jobs. 

  • Post on large job boards, like Dynamite Jobs or Indeed 
  • Post on niche job boards that cater to seasonal work, like SeasonalJobs.com
  • Hire a temp agency
  • Post remote contract support jobs on sites like Upwork, Freelancer, Virtual Staff Finder, or FlexJobs
  • Incentivize your employees (with referral bonuses) to share job postings with their friends and family 


3 actionable holiday season marketing and advertising tactics 

Now that you’re ready for the busy season, here are three tactics to help you drive more traffic, sales, and increase both your conversion rate and average order value (AOV). 


Create post-purchase offers 

What if you could increase revenue by 12% with one feature? That’s exactly what you can do with Rally’s post-purchase offers. 

Post-purchase offers capitalize on the time when a buyer is the most excited and primed to buy again by surfacing a related deal between the checkout page and order confirmation page. With only one-click, customers can get personalized value without adding friction to the process. And, this means a higher AOV for your company.

For instance, if you sell jewelry, you might decide to create a post-purchase offer for matching earrings when someone buys a specific necklace.   

Pro Tip: In Rally, you can also create your post-purchase offers based on the product category. 


Set up email and SMS automation workflows 

Your best customers are the ones that have already bought from you before. And your next best customers are the ones that opted into your email list. All of these people won’t know about your holiday promotions unless you tell them. 

Using email marketing software, like Klaviyo, Drip, or Bento, to build out personalized email marketing campaigns will go a long way to increasing holiday sales as well as customer lifetime value (CLTV). 


Streamline your affiliate and influencer marketing processes 

Whether you have a traditional affiliate marketing program or rely on influencers promoting your brand/products on Instagram and TikTok, you want to make sure that your systems and processes are still working for you.

For starters, this is important for maintaining strong influencer relationships and being easy to work with. 

However, you also want to make sure that you are communicating your guidelines and expectations upfront. You never want to leave much room for chance, or bad actors can take advantage of your brand, particularly if you are too busy to notice right away, like during the holiday season.  

For instance, Bill D'Alessandro found this out the hard way when he lost over $100,000 when some shady affiliates started posting their codes on Honey and RetailMeNot. So, they were giving out 20% discounts to customers when they didn’t have to, along with losing more money in the form of affiliate commission payouts. 

*** 

If you take the time to plan ahead, you can increase the odds of having a profitable holiday season. This starts with getting your systems and processes dialed in and planning out your marketing efforts.  

If you are looking to streamline your checkout experience and increase average order value, you can give Rally a try. Request a free demo here. 

December 1, 2022
Author:
Jordan Gal
Founder / CEO
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Tags:

platforms, commerce, crypto, headless, checkout, one-click, web3, community-owned

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