While COVID-19 threw a wrench into in-person retail earlier in 2020, eCommerce has been thriving, and this trend looks like it’s unlikely to slow down this holiday season.
But are you ready for the 2020 holiday season? In this guide, we’ll take a look at a few simple steps you can take to make sure your eCommerce store is prepared for a record-breaking holiday shopping season.
1. Make Sure You’re Ready For Higher Traffic Volume
You don’t want your website to grind to a halt during the peak shopping season. Whether you use physical servers or cloud-based hosting services, you need to make sure you’re ready for higher traffic volume. You may need to upgrade your server or hosting plan to get more bandwidth and overhead.
This is where past data can be beneficial. If you have data from 2019, you can use this information to predict how much bandwidth your site will need in 2020.
If you don’t have traffic data from 2019 handy, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Spending a little more to get extra capacity is worth it if it prevents downtime, keeps customers happy, and boosts sales.
2. Perform System Updates & Upgrades Before The Rush Begins
Taking down your website to perform a Magento update isn’t an option on Black Friday or Christmas Eve. If your store is overdue for any major updates or upgrades, you need to make sure you get them done well in advance. This will help prevent downtime and security vulnerabilities during the peak shopping season.
3. Run Security Testing To Check For Vulnerabilities
Last year, we saw record levels of hacking during the holiday season, and this trend is only becoming more common as eCommerce grows in importance.
Hackers and other malicious actors know that this is a busy time for eCommerce stores. Many eCommerce companies may not have the time to implement preventive measures during the holiday season and protect their data.
That’s why you need to run security tests, check for vulnerabilities, and patch up any issues before traffic starts to surge and you struggle to keep your head above water. Get this out of the way now to make sure that customer data is protected.
4. Check Page Performance & Loading Times
Even if you have invested in extra bandwidth for the holiday shopping season, you should test out your website and its loading times to ensure you’re set up for success.
Page loading time and performance is a major factor when it comes to conversion rate. According to Cloudflare, a web page with a 2.4 second loading time has a 1.9% conversion rate.
This drops to 1.5% at 3.3 seconds, less than 1% at 4.2 seconds, and 0.6% at 5.7 seconds or longer.
Nobody wants to wait around for products to load, so do everything you can to optimize your website and speed it up – this guide from 121eCommerce may be helpful.
5. Make Sure You’re Ready To Collect Data With Analytics Tools
The data you collect in the 2020 holiday season will be useful next year – and can help you predict traffic, ensure you keep the right stock on-hand and provide a better overall shopping experience.
So make sure you have the proper analytics tools on your eCommerce website. Google Analytics is always a good choice for general analytics. The other analytics tools available to you vary depending on your platform.
Magento, for example, offers the Magento Business Intelligence suite, which is a very powerful analytics tool that’s only available with Magento Commerce.
6. Optimize Your Website For Mobile Devices
Mobile eCommerce is growing at a dramatic rate. By 2021, it’s estimated that it will overtake desktop-based online sales with 54% of the market share at a market value of $659 billion.
For that reason, you need to make sure that your website is fully responsive and optimized for mobile devices. Customers should be able to do everything they do on a laptop or desktop on their smartphone. If they can’t, you may be missing out on revenue.
7. Streamline Your Checkout Experience
According to the Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate is about 70%, meaning that 70% of people who add an item to their cart won’t buy it.
To reduce cart abandonment, we recommend streamlining your checkout experience. Do some usability testing to make sure it’s intuitive, follows modern checkout best practices – such as single-page checkout – and offers the option to check out as a guest.
That last point is essential. Again, according to the Baymard Institute, mandatory account registration was the reason for 28% of cart abandonments. This was only to “Extra Costs Too High (shipping, taxes, fees), which was cited by 50% of surveyed customers as their reason for cart abandonment.
8. Beef Up Your Customer Support Team
With the holiday season comes more customer questions – and more customer returns. Make sure that your customer support team is ready for the rush.
Empower them with the tools they need to communicate effectively with customers, such as customer service software, and hire additional staff to ensure your customers get the best possible service with short waiting times.
Follow These 8 Tips For eCommerce Success This Holiday Season
The holiday season is a great time for eCommerce entrepreneurs and companies and always brings in lots of revenue, but it can also be challenging. So follow the 8 tips listed above to prepare – and make sure you’re ready for whatever the 2020 holiday season brings you. If you’re looking for a fixed-cost, quick-launch solution to get a Magento site up in 8-10 weeks, check out 121eCommerces’ Magento Rapid Launch Packages.