Fall colors and pumpkin-flavored everything can only mean one thing—the holidays are right around the corner!
Holiday retail ecommerce sales are expected to jump to $94.71 billion this November and December, representing 10.7 percent of total holiday retail sales, according to eMarketer.
If you haven’t done so already, you need to be prepared so your ecommerce business won’t be left out in the cold. The holiday season can represent as much as 30 percent of annual sales for some retailers, according to the National Retail Federation, and the sooner you get started, the better – about 40 percent of consumers start their holiday shopping before Halloween, says the NRF.
Wondering where to get started? Here are three areas where you can focus your efforts:
Plan, plan, plan!
In order to minimize any unpleasant surprises during the holiday season, sit down and take stock of your current order fulfillment process to determine where you need to ramp things up in order to be ready for increased traffic and sales. If this isn’t your ecommerce business’ first holiday season, think back to last year in case there were any snags you’d like to avoid again. Review your product inventory and make sure you’re happy with what you have in stock, paying special attention to best-sellers as well as items that might have more appeal during this gift-giving season. Are you properly staffed in order to handle increased orders, and are your employees set up for order-fulfillment success? You might want to consider designating certain times of day where everyone devotes their time to processing orders and getting shipments out the door in order to minimize the potential backlog. And speaking of shipments, don’t forget to stock up on packing and shipping materials!
Review and update policies
It’s important to make sure your policies are easy to find and easy to understand. Communicate your holiday shipping cutoff dates so your customers understand when they need to buy in order to receive gifts and other urgent items in time. Clearly state your customer support contact information and hours so shoppers know how and when they can reach you with questions. Free shipping is a huge draw for customers, with 60 percent of people surveyed by Bizrate Insights earlier this year saying they’d be more tempted to buy if offered free shipping with no minimum purchase. Determine whether your ecommerce business will offer free shipping for all orders or, if that’s not feasible, if you want to offer free shipping when a customer hits a certain spending minimum. Your returns policy is also something that requires a holiday-season spruce-up—consider adjusting it to accommodate gift givers and recipients and the fact that there may be a bit of time between when a gift is bought and when it’s actually received.
Appeal to your customers’ needs
Everybody’s busy this time of year, so do what you can to make holiday shopping fun and easy for your customers. Add holiday cheer to the shopping experience with limited-time sales and promotions. You could save your customers time by providing giftwrapping services, or appeal to the last-minute shopper with free expedited delivery. No matter how close they are to finding the perfect gift for everyone on their list, these little bits of holiday cheer can help the customer but also help your ecommerce business close out the year on a high note.