Perfectly Position Your Shopify Store for the Upcoming Holidays
What’s more, it seems, as consumers, we’re getting ready for the upcoming holidays a few months earlier. In fact, latest figures show that the holiday shopping season now starts as early as October. So, if you haven’t already opened the doors to your online festive shop, what are you waiting for?
It’s not just a case of listing a few seasonal offers and must-have gifts though. After two years of lockdowns and a global pandemic, online businesses continue to face a few obstacles and 2022 is bringing a new wave of challenges. We’re talking about rising inflation and gas prices all over the world.
If you own an online store, you might need to think outside of the box this year. Fear not though as our Shopify development agency is here to help. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to maximise your online store and take advantage of the rush during the upcoming holidays.
How to Prepare a Shopify Store for the Holidays
Choose the holidays you want to participate in
Begin by noting down the biggest dates. There’s plenty of holidays and awareness days in November and December but not all of them will be right for your business or your target customers. The most common holidays to be aware of are:
- Thanksgiving – 24th November
- Black Friday – 25th November
- Cyber Monday – 28th November
- Hanukkah – 18th December
- Christmas Day – 25th December
- Boxing Day – 26th December
- New Year’s Eve – 31st December
- New Year – 1st January
Once you’ve decided which holidays to focus on, you can really start thinking about how to prepare your Shopify store for holidays, and that’s where the fun bit begins.
Prepare a holiday sales plan
Armed with the holiday dates that you want to take part in, it’s time to prepare a sales calendar. For this to be effective, you need to have a rough idea of when your ideal customers are most active online. For example, if your target audience is Gen Z, you might want to release certain deals and offers later in the day or at the weekend. If you target young families or mothers, it’s probably better to steer clear from launching new products and deals during 5pm-7pm when bed and bath time routines are likely taking place. Simply use a printed calendar and write down what days you will start advertising and the times of certain communication.
It’s important not to forget rule 101 of being an online business: think mobile-first. In 2021 alone, it was revealed that nearly 80% of smartphone users had made a purchase through their phone while 39% of online sales from Nov 1 to Dec 31 in 2020 were made from a smartphone account. So, any changes and improvements that you do make to your online store need to look good and work well on mobile. If not, you’re most likely missing out on critical sales.
Have a holiday-themed makeover for your Shopify store
The festive season is a great excuse to update your branding and online store. Not only does it look good but it’s a sure-fire way to get online visitors into the festive mood. You don’t need to redesign your entire website. Instead, add a few festive colours and elements like a countdown timer or a themed jingle.
Lots of online businesses turn their attention to their logo during this period, giving it a little festive enhancement with the likes of falling snow, a Rudolph nose or even a Santa hat. Remember though, any updates you do make to your branding should also be rolled out to your social media, emails, and any other communications to ensure consistency.
Advertise offers on hero images and banners
You can’t expect your customers to know about any festive deals and promotions you’re offering if you don’t shout about them. Failure to do so means they’ll only see your competitors doing it. Use banner adverts and pop-up messaging to display your offers to exactly the right people and add internal links to keep customers on your website.
Update your shipping and returns policy and additional payment options
High-quality customer service is another way to impress your audience and keep them coming back for more. One way to do this is to offer quicker shipping options and extended returns. In addition to this, dedicated chat functions, tracking features, and additional payment options are all great ways to entice shoppers and keep them happy. Perhaps you could include PayPal or even Bitcoin to your accepted payment options or offer 30-day payments and split payments to give consumers more choice.
To do this, you might want to invest in a Shopify development agency. Not only will a Shopify agency be able to help with Shopify web development, but they’ll also be able to advise on Shopify store updates and Shopify best practices to improve the overall customer experience.
Creatively utilise announcement bars
Another great way to advertise your offers in your newly chosen Shopify theme is to use announcement bars. As visitors load your online store, your pop-up bar will automatically appear — detailing offers, deals, and new products. You could even include internal links to certain products, a blog page or even request that they enter their email address for an extra-special discount. Similarly, you could use pop-ups to offer time-limited specials.
Effectively manage your inventory and secure your back-end
You can do all the preparation in the world to ensure your online store is ready for the holidays but if you don’t have the stock — or your suppliers aren’t prepared for the increase in orders — then all your efforts won’t amount to much. For this reason, it pays to liaise with any external teams in advance and you can even ask customers what types of products they want to see ahead of time, and stock up before the busy period.
Offer special holiday discounts
Consider discounts for new and loyal customers as well as email subscribers and make sure it’s known about with regular and consistent communication. Some of the most popular discounts include money off, buy one get one free or even free products when you spend a certain amount. Bundle discounts are a great way of getting people to buy more too. While it can feel quite daunting to have so many discounts available, most consumers are typically looking to spend more and buy a larger amount around the holiday season.
Make additional services like gift wrapping and handwritten notes available
It’s thought that there are around 24 million eCommerce stores across the globe. That means there’s a lot of competition and noise to cut through. One of the best ways to do this is to offer something that your customers really want or that few other stores are doing. Perhaps you could include Christmas gift wrapping at the checkout? Another idea is to offer hand-written notes to add that coveted personal touch for those who are sending gifts from afar.
Create gift bundles and introduce holiday products
The holiday season is a time when consumers shop for friends, family, colleagues, and even gifts for themselves. Consider your target audience and come up with a list of people that they might be shopping for as well as what kind of gifts they might want to see. Not only is it a good idea to offer discounts and deals on these products but launching new festive collections is sure to attract the right buyers.
Keeping a close eye on tools like Google Trends means you’ll know some of the most searched phrases too, which could help you to create a winning product range. For example, in 2021, ‘homemade gift ideas’ was one of the biggest searches and hampers are also ideal for those who want a quick-fix gift solution.
Smart and optimised checkout
Research from Google shows that most mobile website visitors will leave a site if it doesn’t load within three seconds. So, not only does your store need to look good and have the right products but it needs to be up to speed. And, in busier seasons you need to consider how and if your site will cope with an influx of visitors.
It’s not just about the speed it takes your store to load though. It also needs to be easy to navigate and have a smooth, stress-free checkout. After all, too much information or a slow checkout process could result in some people abandoning their cart. Shopify eCommerce development experts will be able to add features like a countdown timer to quicken the process, guest checkout, upselling opportunities, and multiple payment options.
Provide a wish list feature
If you haven’t already, now’s a great time to release holiday-themed gift cards, as well as wish list features which customers can send onto friends and family members. Wish lists are an easy way for people to keep a track on their favourite products and you can even set up emails or SMS messages, advertising the products and any relevant offers. When stocks dip, you could send a reminder message, nudging them to purchase so that they don’t miss out.
Keep an eye on cart abandonment
The upcoming holiday season is notoriously busy. As an online store owner, you need to look for anything that’s going to make your life easier and is likely to increase sales. One of the best ways to do this is to set up automatic email marketing campaigns that target those customers who have left something in their basket. You can also achieve this via retargeting or SMS messages.
The idea is that you offer potential customers an enticing discount to get them to come back to your site and complete the transaction. It’s a great way to boost your profits and, when it’s fully automated, all the hard work will be done for you.
Track and measure your conversion rates
If you don’t track how well your online store is doing, how will you know what’s worked and what hasn’t? Without this information, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts in the future. Google Analytics is a great starting point and there’s plenty of online tutorials if this is the first time that you’re using it. What’s more, individual social media channels and your online shop domain should also come with analytics meaning you can easily track the number of visitors, engagement rates, and those all-important conversions. By keeping a close eye on this throughout the season, you can easily tweak your promotions to ensure success.
Identify the ad channels you need to focus on
Blogs, email marketing, and social media are all essential tools for businesses to shout out about products and services, as well as any deals. However, it’s not just a case of picking one. Instead, you need to carefully decide which platform is going to be best for your business. To do this, you need to think about where your target audience will go.
For example, older retired audiences might not see Instagram posts and the younger generation might not have the time to read long articles. Retargeting is another popular tactic as it shows your adverts on Google and Facebook to those who have previously visited your website. Spend some time looking at all the channels and strategically choose the ones that will best suit your business.
Optimise your store for SEO
SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation, is when you take certain actions to increase the ranking of your online store. It can get very technical which is when it can be helpful to hire Shopify developers. But one of the most basic tactics is to ensure that your store pages and product descriptions have relevant keywords in them. These should be tailored to your store and products. Some examples include ‘Christmas gifts for her’, ‘homemade Christmas gifts’, and ‘Christmas gifts under £10’. Other SEO techniques include using internal linking and making sure that your pages are easy to navigate.
Take Advantage of the Festive Rush
No matter how far away the holidays might feel, the truth is, it’s never too early to prepare for them. Have an eye on product development, come up with a list of marketing campaigns for the year ahead, be aware of shipping deadlines, and make sure you know about any local markets and events so that you can get your brand in front of more potential customers.
Now that you have a bigger picture of how to prepare for the upcoming holidays, you can start taking action. Our Shopify development agency is available to assist you with everything from picking Shopify holiday themes to marketing and even plug-in development. Contact us today to find out more about how our Shopify development company can help you ensure this holiday season is your best yet.