As shoppers increasingly move online for holiday shopping, retailers must plan in advance with a Black Friday e-commerce checklist.
Time is running out to prep your e-commerce site for the busy holiday season, but we’ve got a last minute holiday e-commerce checklist to ensure your site is ready for the most wonderful time of the year (in retail).
Checking it twice: Internal preparationsCustomer service & fulfillment
Properly prep your customer service and fulfillment teams of all promotions and timing, thereby ensuring staffing is in place during high order volume and/or heavy demand.Review prior year’s performance
Clearly outline products and promotional schedule with demand planners to ensure inventories can support demand. Evaluate positions throughout the holiday season to avoid out of stock positions, especially on products in paid ads.Optimize content on site
Images should all be SEO friendly, with ALT text and specific file names. If you are diligent in SEO, organic search listings will communicate offers 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.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.Verify analytics tracking/tagging
It’s important to verify current and newly created pages are being properly tracked in your analytics software/tooling.
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No dashing through the snow (until it’s safe): Load testing and securityLoad 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.Emergency plan
Confirm that 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.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.
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Inviting sales: Email frequencyIncrease 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.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.
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Don’t lose them at the finish line: Cart & checkout optimizationTest 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.Examine shipping communication
Customers want to know when they will receive the product, and the last day they can purchase an item in order to receive it prior to the holiday.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 is.
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Standing out among the crowd: Search advertisingUtilize 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.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.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.
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Know thy enemy: Competitor researchReview previous emails
Most of us aren’t strangers to signing up for our competitors’ emails. Take a look at what they sent last year, and map out frequency, content focus, and offers.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.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.
Hopefully this holiday e-commerce checklist helps to ensure nothing slips through the cracks prior to the season.