It is that time of the year when there is an expectant smile in everyone’s eyes. There is a glimmer of hope because everyone believes that the holidays will usher in prosperity and happiness. If you run an eCommerce Shopify store, you are in for a great time. Why? Because people are ready to open their purse strings without thinking too much as they want to share their joy. Store owners should invest time and effort in Shopify holiday preparation to get the best out of this wonderful season.
In this article, we look at some of the smartest ways to prepare your Shopify store for the holiday season. Your objective should be maximizing holiday sales which will result in several Shopify store holiday success stories.
2024’s Holiday Calendar:
- Halloween: October 31
- Black Friday: 29 Nov
- Cyber Monday: 2 Dec
- Thanksgiving November 28
- Christmas Eve: December 24
- Boxing Day: December 26
- New Year’s Eve: December 31
Major Concerns While Preparing for Black Friday on Shopify:
Let’s look at some of the major concerns to ensure that your Shopify store holiday optimization is on point. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to get the best ROI out of this exercise.
- With guaranteed Shopify holiday traffic spikes, you will find that the customer service team is burdened with extra support tickets, phone calls, and whatnot
- Ensuring that you have the right amount of inventory to fulfill customer orders is another issue that affects even huge e-commerce giants. Poor inventory management for holidays will surely affect your bottom line
- Even though there are several channels to advertise your store, the ad costs have risen significantly. If you have smaller pockets, your Shopify store will have to get creative
- Being prepared to offer the best Shopify holiday user experience
- While your holiday website performance must be at its best, your shipping and fulfillment ability must not be an afterthought
Top Influences for Maximizing Holiday Sales on Your Shopify Store:
We look at the results from Tinuti’s 2022 Holiday Shopper Study report on what affects holiday website performance.
- The presence of sales and discounts on products that customers were already interested in buying(22%)
- More than 50% of customers mentioned that price was a huge factor
- Holiday sales usually have an easy returns policy, say more than 4% of those who were part of the study
- Free shipping (13%) and fast shipping (7%) is also a purchasing influencer according to shoppers
- Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) is a huge attraction for customers who want to see, touch, and feel the product, according to 4% of consumers
Ecommerce Holiday Trends and Statistics:
- The 2022 holiday season saw customers spending upwards of $211.7 billion, according to Adobe Analytics
- Deloitte estimates 2023 holiday ecommerce sales to grow to 12.8% from 10.3% in 2022
- Cyber week sales delivered $35.3 billion in revenue in 2022, which is more than $500 million than the initial projections
- Gen Z is expected to spend $290 on gift cards in this year’s cyber week, an increase of 57% from last year
- Gift cards have been the most popular gift given for the last 16 years
- 88% of people think that inflation will have an impact on holiday spending, according to a Numerator survey
- The Buy Now Pay Later option is predicted to generate $17 billion in holiday ecommerce sales this year
21 Holiday Season Ecommerce Strategies for 2024
Shopify store owners in the US know that the holiday season is one of the best times to make bank. For those who are just starting out, it might be difficult to identify strategies that work. No matter which stage in the business you are, the holiday season e-commerce strategies mentioned below will make a huge difference to your brand.
- Plan Early:
If there is one mistake that most eCommerce businesses make while preparing for the holiday season, it is that they don’t plan too early. Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s is a stressful time for customers. Your best bet to cash in on the holiday season is to create a seamless interface. It will increase conversions and will also result in a great experience.
According to Tinuiti’s Holiday Shopper Study, more than 30% of shoppers start their holiday shopping as early as October, or even before. The best thing you can do is be prepared in advance and have an action plan ready. Only 15% of consumers wait until December to get started on their holiday shopping.
- Audit your Existing Business Processes:
Once you create a plan of action for the holiday season, the next step is to make sure your entire business is ready for the holiday season.
Below are the processes you must audit:
- What does the customer journey look like? Ensure that it is smooth for every customer. If there is friction at any of the touchpoints, work on reducing them
- Find areas to automate. List down the day-to-day manual processes and see what processes can be automated
- Make sure email marketing software is on point
- Have you written your marketing messages? Make sure that they are vetted with the help of communication specialists who understand marketing
- See if the buying process is frictionless for customers
- Ensure back-end systems and applications are sending and receiving real-time data to get accurate order information
- Check if your web application firewall technology is up to date and patched
- Properly get your inventory organized to meet the holiday demands. Stock-outs drive 41% of customers towards competitors
When you have the right technology and processes in place, managing the holiday rush on your Shopify store becomes easy.
- Get Your Website Holiday Ready:
The number of visitors to your Shopify store will differ during the holiday season. The last thing you want is to lose a customer because your website took a second or two more to load or if it cannot handle high traffic. More than 40% of users abandon websites if it takes more than three seconds to display content. Make sure you have all the necessary information added about the products, shipping, delivery, refunds, and so on.
Ensure that the design and copy of the website match your brand identity elements. The messaging should be tweaked for the holidays to welcome your customers for this special season.
Analyze the performance of your website and keep improving it. The jump in website visitors during the holiday season shouldn’t affect the performance of your website. The last thing you want is to find that your cyber monday strategies not giving the results you want because your website isn’t ready.
- Update Product Photos:
The quality of the photos you use has a huge impact on the customer’s perception of your brand. Add multiple photos from different angles for each product. Don’t make the customer wonder how the product will look.
- Make Sure You Block Bots:
A major portion of the bots that account for your website traffic are malicious. It will come up with devious ways to mess up your customers’ shopping experience. They are even more active during the holiday season. It can slow down your website or even make it unavailable for your customers. Make sure your IT team is prepared enough to provide an excellent experience.
- Go Big on Personalization:
No, we are not referring to addressing the customer by name or other trivialities. When a customer visits your Shopify store, imagine if they get recommendations based on their saved searches, website history, wish list, and so on. You get the gist, right? If customers get the right recommendations, they will feel engaged and appreciated. Businesses that do this consistently can easily curry favor with customers.
Netflix saves more than $1 billion with its recommendation engine. Since it shows the right TV shows and movies based on the viewer’s interests, they will end up spending more time on the site, directly affecting the streaming giant’s profit numbers. That’s exactly what personalization can do for your Shopify store too.
- Reach Out to Existing Customers:
Having an influx of customers every day is a great sign of a fledgling Shopify store. But there is something much better than that– existing customers who keep shopping from your store. It is in your best interests to make your existing customers a huge part of your marketing efforts. Customers who have already purchased from you are more likely to take up on your offering. They will also be easier to upsell and cross-sell.
- Include a Referral Program:
When you reach out to your existing customers, make sure to include them in your referral program. If your Shopify store hasn’t had a referral program, this is the best time to add one to your marketing stack. Offer customers an incentive for each referral that they make. It will add more customers to your store, some of whom would not have been your customers otherwise.
- Incorporate a Loyalty Program:
While a referral program is a great way to offer incentives for customers to refer their close ones, a loyalty program is more valuable. Why? Because the recommendation of a loyal customer will result in more conversions. The conversions from loyalty programs are going to stick with your brand for a longer time.
Below are a few strategies to make the best out of the holiday sales
- Offer exclusive discounts, promotions, and offers. It could also include early access to products, BOGO deals, etc
- Come up with limited-time rewards only for your loyalty program members
- Make loyalty program customers get points or rewards when they complete tasks, as a part of festive challenges
- Create co-branded loyalty rewards by tie-ups with complementary products
- Come up with social media contests to get loyalty rewards
- Create different tieres of loyalty rewards for customers based on their loyalty
- Implement Live Chat or Chatbots:
Imagine losing a customer because they couldn’t find a piece of minor information about the product they chose. Something like this could have been easily solved had you installed a live chat or chatbot. Also, consumers don’t want to reach out to sales representatives to get an answer. Chatbots deliver instant results, and so does a live chat representative, sitting on the other end. They can single-handedly increase your conversion rates. Juniper Research expects chatbots to save up to 2.5 billion hours of work for businesses in 2023.
- Leverage Social Media for Holiday Sales:
One of the most powerful channels that Shopify stores can use is social media. You can be sure about having your entire customer base lurking in at least two or three channels. More than 56% of Gen Z respondents said that they look at TikTok, while 38% of Boomers check out Facebook, for inspiration, when making purchasing decisions.
Post product updates or add interesting tidbits about your store on social media sites. Create a constant stream of content for various social media channels. Do remember to follow best practices for each of these sites. Run contests on Facebook and Instagram and lure them in with exclusive offers that get you more visitors. Make sure that holiday marketing for Shopify has social media as a big part of your campaigns.
- Prioritize Mobile Experience:
HubSpot says that mobile-optimized websites have a 64% higher conversion rate than their non-optimized counterparts. Offering a flawless mobile experience has a strong effect on the customers. If the experience is less than pleasant, it will be an immediate turnoff, and they are less likely to visit your Shopify store again. Mobile optimization is also a big part of your Shopify holiday SEO tactics.
Smartphones are convenient for people for most activities, including online shopping. When you prioritize mobile shopping, it shows that you value their patronage and want to give them an excellent experience.
- Test Product and Checkout Pages:
Is the latest price mentioned on the product pages? Are all the buttons working properly? Is the page layout clear and consistent? Is the checkout page working properly? Are you able to make purchases with ease? Do remember that your customers have several choices. If they have a subpar experience, you will see them exiting your site and checking out your competitor. That’s not something you want, right?
Ensure that there is no stone unturned when it comes to the product pages. If there is an unnecessary step on the way to the checkout page, cull it with immediate effect. Make sure the product-to-purchase journey is seamless, clear, and transparent.
- Create Gift Ideas for Shopify Stores:
Each of you reading this would have struggled to pick the right gifts during the holiday season. Help your customers by designing gifting guides, making the buying process so much easier. The gifting guide needn’t be an exhaustive list of products from random places. Your entire suite of products should be a part of this guide. Come up with interesting ways to club the products that offer the highest value for the buyers.
List the products on sale, special offers, exclusive events, discounts, seasonal goods, etc. It will give your customers interesting ideas to utilize the gift card. With gifting guides like this, it is also a testament to the fact that you care about your customers.
- Create Holiday-Themed Gift Cards:
One of the best Shopify holiday sales tips is to create gift cards that have holiday themes. For example, you can create a limited-edition gift card series for Thanksgiving. Since it will be limited in numbers, you can easily sell it at a premium or use scarcity as a ruse to increase gift card sales. You could persuade customers to use the themed gift cards as souvenirs that the gift card recipients can keep.
- Include Videos in Product Pages:
89% of people have admitted that they were convinced to buy a brand’s product after watching a video. If your Shopify store doesn’t invest in videos, at least for the product pages, you are losing out on revenue. Customers want to see multiple content pieces that will help them with the purchase decision.
Let’s look at how you can increase holiday sales with videos
- Explain to your customers how your product can be used
- Leverage user-generated content and customer testimonials to get customer trust
- Include an explanation video on how to make the best use of the product
- Create lifestyle videos which feature people and places they identify along with your brand
With 94% of first impressions being created with visual effects, it is no wonder that videos are a big deal. If you aren’t creating the right type of videos for your brand, you are the one losing out on holiday sales.
- Email Marketing:
If you have an eCommerce store, not using email marketing is one of the biggest mistakes you will be making. With an ROI of 4,200%, it is simply the most powerful way for Shopify stores to increase their sales. Email marketing can be used for nurturing customers for holiday offers, informing them about promotional offers, sharing ways to get better discounts, and so on.
Almost 70.19% of people abandon their carts after choosing the products they like. You can send cart abandoned emails to remind customers to complete the purchase. This will increase the conversion rate by a huge margin. A pop-up message on no other channel will elicit the same response. Your Shopify holiday email campaigns will be a game changer if you use the power of email marketing wisely.
- Offer Better Customer Service During the Holidays:
Under-promising and over-delivery are things that customers will love you for. You must go above and beyond to delight them. Since they least expect it, they will be even more grateful to you for your service. This will certainly have an effect on your holiday sales. Guess who will get more recommendations?
- Offer Incentives:
As a part of season promotions on Shopify, you must offer incentives for customers to shop from you. Black Friday sales in 2022 were $9.1 billion in the US. That’s a telling indicator of the fact that consumers are ready to shell out money. As mentioned earlier in the article, your customers are spoilt for choice. To give them the much-needed push, offering incentives is a no-brainer.
Let’s look at incentives for Shopify store holiday success stories
- Discounts/Bulk discounts
- Free gifts
- Free product samples
- Free one-to-one business consultation
- Referral discounts
- Loyalty programs
- Exclusive community access
- Store credits
- Free bonus items with purchase
- Access to latest products
- Subscription boxes
- Create Sales Lists:
A majority of your customers are going to look for discounts while making the purchasing decision, especially during the holidays. As a business, it is best to offer customers a reduced rate on several products. Make sure to mention clearly on the product landing page if there are promotions or discounts going on. You are at the risk of getting these products ignored if customers don’t immediately know that there are offers going on.
Remember, most customers are looking for holiday deals. Ensure that the sales prices are correctly entered everywhere necessary. Customers who see a different price on the checkout page are more likely to abandon the cart. This will also be a PR disaster since they will believe that you were misleading them.
- Make the Checkout Process Smooth:
People abandon their shopping carts for a variety of reasons. It could be due to technical issues, too much information requested, lack of payment options, unexpected costs, high taxes, unexpectedly high shipping rates, or even because of a lack of transparency.
Use the below steps for smoother checkout
- Make sure there are no hidden charges anywhere. Be clear about the shipping, taxes, and fees
- Allow guest checkout process without them having to sign in or register
- Mention the return and refund policies clearly in an unambiguous language
- Keep the checkout process less time-consuming
- Make sure your website is compliant with all the standards and regulations
The holiday season is the best time to invest in sales strategies that will 10x (or more) your sales. Do not make changes that will confuse your regular customers. The preparations for the holiday season should be completed well in advance. There are several customers who plan ahead as well. It is better to leverage the services of a promotional platform that can help you acquire, engage, and retain customers.
For Shopify stores that want to stand out with the best of technology and marketing tools, 99minds is here to take care of your needs. Get in touch with us to understand how we can help you with gift cards, loyalty and referral programs, coupons, and more.