6 Tips to optimize your store for the holidays
There’s no denying that the holiday season drives most sales for all types of businesses. In 2017, U.S holiday sales reached $106.1 billion a 12% increase from the same season in 2016. In 2018, projected sales are $123.4 billion, which is a 15% increase in growth from 2017. If you haven’t started preparing your website for the 2018 holidays, you need to wake up and smell the coffee. According to the National Retail Foundation, 20-40% of yearly sales for SMEs take place during the last two months of the year. To make the most out of the holiday season, you have to optimize your online store to deliver what the consumers want, handle the increased traffic, provide a seamless user experience, and retain these customers.
This article explores some of the methods you can use to optimize your e-commerce store for the holiday season before it’s too late. Read on.
- Carry out an analysis and learn from it
If your store was still running last year, you need to have a look at the numbers before making any plans. It is important to use hard data for decision making in the online business environment as this gives you an edge over your competition.
Look at the successes and failures of your previous year’s holiday campaign, days when sales peaked, slow sales days, best traffic days, best conversion days, total revenues against projections, keyword optimization results, competitor analysis among other things. From this data, you can set out plans for the holiday season.
- Optimize your store hosting plan
Your online store is only as good as the hosting environment. Many online businesses fail because they use the wrong hosting plans. If you don’t choose a good and reliable host, you will experience downtime during the holiday season, which will lead to loss of business. Make sure you choose a hosting package that can handle increased traffic, offer 24/7 technical support, and flexibility to suit your store’s changing needs.
If need be, you can change your hosting provider to ensure you get dedicated hosting environment, CDN for faster loading, SSL, and increased bandwidth capacity.
- Speed up your online site
One thing that all shoppers hate is a delay when looking for products and during checkout. During the holiday season, you expect traffic to bombard your store and the only way to avoid high bounce rates is by delivering excellent load time.
Online shoppers want everything fast and research shows a 1-second delay in loading a page can lead to a 7% reduction in conversion. Evaluate your site speeds using online tools such as Google’s Page Speed Insights tool, compress, and optimize images and carry out other recommendations given by the speed check tools.
- Optimize the checkout process
It is one thing to take payments online and something totally different to do it right. You see, many shoppers will abandon their carts if they can’t find their preferred payment method. As such, provide alternative payment methods in addition to traditional ones and make sure the checkout process is smooth and convenient.
Look for the cheapest online payment gateway, which allows multiple secure payment methods as this will not only save you money but also help with customer acquisition and customer retention during the holiday season.
- Optimize your store’s database
Over the last one year, your website’s database has grown and you have a lot of unnecessary stuff, which could be affecting optimal performance. There are multiple tools you can choose for a quick database cleanup and before the holiday season, you should use them. Database cleanup speeds up your website and improves overall performance.
- Leverage user testing
If you want to understand how customers feel when visiting your store, it is time to dive into user testing. You need to get into the mindset of your target customer and explore your online store through the purchase funnel, check the ease of account creation, check the availability of coupons and discounts, page functionality, password recovery process, and everything else on your website. If you notice any problems, fix them instantly as you prepare for the holiday season.
Preparations for the holiday season must start early. Every year, shoppers start doing their shopping earlier and as an online store owner, you have to optimize your store. There is a lot of money to be made during this holiday season but this is only possible if your e-commerce store can handle the traffic and deliver an excellent user experience.