The holiday season is the most wonderful—and the most challenging—time of the year for  retailers as it leads to increased traffic both in store and online. With holiday retail sales crossing the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2018 — up from 5.8% the year prior (Source: bigcommerce.com), the pressure is on to get digital commerce sites, point-of-sale (POS) systems, effectiveness of the campaigns and overall store flow in top shape for peak trading season.

So retailers need to be well prepared for this influx of holiday traffic and sales to stay in the game. This blog covers a holiday readiness checklist to make sure you drive traffic, convert new customers, re-engage existing buyers, and provide a seamless customer experience.

E-commerce Holiday Readiness: Things to do to get your site Holiday Ready

With estimated growth at $2.93 billion of online sales in 2019, it would be a disaster for the retailers if their website or app is not ‘Holiday Ready’.

To maximize revenue for this upcoming season, setting up relevant promotions and campaigns for the right segments, ensure the success of campaigns through creating proper funnels, re-marketing etc. Use digital touch points effectively by providing seamless experience across the customer Journey.

A slow-loading e-commerce website or application is highly capable of killing your business and losing your potential customers. Your customers are definitely not going to be happy because 40% of users abandon a site that has the loading speed higher than 3 sec says a report. (Source: Search Engine Watch)

Key features such as enhanced in-app checkout options, improving product pages, abandoned cart reminders, newsletters, consumer review tools, personalized communication, banners on promotion can help locking in customers in your ecosystem. Apart from that, having a unified commerce platform can help you in delivering the most experiential and efficient experience for your customers as it offers a single view of the inventory. When the whole enterprise – distribution centers, e-commerce sites, stores runs on one platform, all departments are able to access, and operates on, the same data all of which guarantees a single version of the truth.

However to achieve the same, the e-commerce platforms should be subjected to different types of tests (performance, load, security, A/B etc.) so that there is no compromise on various crucial factors such as user experience, mobile responsiveness, customer data security, quick load time, and secure transaction. Additionally there are other things to be kept in mind while getting your website holiday ready:

  • Decrease the page loading time
  • Use a good web host
  • Check whether the website works flawlessly on all browsers, platforms, and operating systems right after you make changes
  • A TLS/SSL certificate is a priority for any website these days, as they provide customers the high assurance to shop without any fear. And, during the holiday season, this assurance is quite vital
  • Ensure there is support of the hosting provider; ask for extra resources to tackle the additional traffic.

Hence, ensuring every part of the site is tested against real world-scenarios will help retailers avoid pitfalls and drive superior customer experience. A team of testing experts or professionals can be employed to get the work done.

Checklist to get your retail stores holiday ready

  • The success of your holiday season relies partially upon your marketing strategies primarily on social media platforms. Try utilizing your POS as it is an extremely effective tool for new product launches to help the product stand out, as well as to educate, inform and entice shoppers to try something new. This way your customers are aware of the stores upcoming sales and promotions.
  • Apart from that ensure that your point of service (POS) configuration allows you to run stores 24*7 (test your specific scenario). Check dates and communicate procedures and make sure all necessary hardware is running as expected. Holiday promotions based on specific days or even times of days should be tested. Especially if you are running complex promotions, you will want to ensure these are run in a test environment prior to promoting to production. Have your retail POS solutions ready before the store open for a business day with all the required data like price changes, promotions etc. Additionally, your staff should be completely trained, including seasonal staff.

  • Many retailers have transformed the customer experience by integrating mPOS into the checkout. Often used for “line busting,” leveraging mPOS Systems ensures customers have a smooth, expedited checkout experience. However, one area in need of improvement is the battery life of mobile POS devices. Hence, retailers with extended sale hours, for example, would need to have mobile battery packs on hand to keep devices functioning, even if it they were fully charged when doors opened.

  • Keeping track of your inventory during the holiday season is a must. During the holidays, your levels of inventory vary.  Inventory control planning is highly important during the holiday season. To make sure you do not run out or overstock your inventory, try centralizing your inventory. Avoid overselling and implement an order management system that automatically orders products when they reach a certain quantity. Use your sales data to predict what items your store should stock up on for the holiday season. People who buy things online want them delivered in as little time as possible for as cheap as possible. Your fulfillment operations won’t be the same during peak holiday shopping times as they are during the rest of the year. If you don’t have in-house resources to handle the uptick in orders during the holiday season, consider partnering with an order fulfillment company to help manage inventory and get orders shipped on time.

Conclusion

The holiday season, is the busiest and most profitable time of year for retail and e-commerce. As a retailer, it’s important that you take all the steps possible to prepare your business to capitalize on this seasonal rush.

With so many moving parts, it helps to have a fully integrated Unified Commerce retail strategy, to guarantee you are touching potential customer at all crucial parts of the sales pipeline.

Shifali Dumpala

Shifali is a content writer and has a passion for exploring technologies that impact everyday life. She majorly focuses on retail domain and handles various kinds of marketing content including white papers.