Earlier this month, I wrote about Marketing steps to take now to prepare your online store for the holidays. Today, I’m going further into that subject, but this time addressing the technical side of your site. But if you’re not a techie, don’t stop reading! If you are a Marketing professional responsible for your site (or sales from it), read this and go through these things with your web team so that you are sure you’re ready for a holiday season filled with good cheer as well as sales.
- Create a Gifts Page. If you don’t already have one, create a page on your site that might not be targeted to your normal shopper. Make it easy for anyone to find and select the perfect gift for that special someone. If you sell hunting equipment, be sure your Gifts page is organized so that a non-hunting woman can easily find a suitable gift for her husband. Enable the customer to place an order right from the Gifts page if they wish, and test to make sure the order carries through correctly.
- Perform a checkup on your complete shopping system. Start with the load speed of the important pages on your site, especially those in the order and checkout process. Use webpagetest.org to measure them. See my earlier post on improving load times. Review your recent web metrics to be sure your host can handle an increased load of traffic during the holidays. If not, now is the time to upgrade! Make sure your host’s data pipe is sufficient to allow fast data transfer between the server and your credit card payment gateway as well.
- Ensure a smooth user experience on mobile devices. The growth of mobile browsing is staggering, and each holiday season, a larger percentage of sales come from smartphones and tablets. Be sure your site is easy to use on both. Links should be spaced out enough so that they are easy to touch with your finger. If your site uses Flash, be sure that something else is served up on mobile devices that don’t support it. And if you have any mouse-over effects, make sure they are not critical to the shopping process.
- Implement Badging dynamically. In the previous post, we talked about the importance of specialized holiday badging. The badging needs will typically change frequently during the holiday season in order to test different badges or products. Now is the time to enable a badging solution that does not require editing of new photos, etc. Develop a solution that allows you to overlay a badge over a product picture in a non-evasive spot.
- Implement customized messaging. With a well-designed shopping solution, you have the ability to gather legitimate data about your visitors. Who has ordered before? Who is visiting your store for the first time? Who has already added items to their cart from the Gift page without ordering, but is now back? If you know these things about some of your visitors, you can tailor their experience accordingly to be more helpful. This technique has been shown to provide a significant boost to a site’s conversion rate. If you can’t determine these characteristics of your shoppers, now is the time to implement the code necessary to do so.
- Be sure that the web site and your promotional emails share a common look & feel. The Marketing team must be working with the Web Development team when designing holiday email marketing campaigns to ensure that the emails utilize the same look & feel as the site, and that if nuances change to the site during the holidays, those changes are easily transferred to the next email that goes out. Email marketing is important during the holidays, and you want your shoppers to have as seamless an experience as possible.
The holiday season is a huge opportunity for every ecommerce site. And when planned well, it can be a real boost to the numbers. But the planning must include the technical team in order to maximize your odds at success.