3 Overlooked Holiday Planning Must-Haves

Beach breezes and backyard barbeques may mean summer is in full swing for most people. For e-commerce marketers, these events signal that it’s time to start planning for the busy holiday season.

The pressure to build a holiday plan that will deliver record-breaking revenue can be stressful. A solid holiday plan needs to be detailed and comprehensive, yet flexible enough to accommodate unexpected shifts in consumer behavior and counteract underwhelming sales.

The need to focus on the details and prepare for every potential outcome will cause many marketers to unintentionally overlook key pieces of their e-commerce puzzle that significantly affect shopper engagement and may mean the difference in getting the sale or losing the order to a competitor.

Take the time to confirm that these three e-commerce essentials are ready to help boost your holiday sales.

1. Automated Messages

Automated messages impact so many moments in the customer lifecycle – from welcome messages to shopping cart reminders and post-purchase emails. Yet many retailers will not factor these messages into their holiday plan.

As your email frequency increases during the holidays, you should consider how automated messages can add to the total number of emails a shopper receives. Prioritize which messages are most important. Consider combining certain triggered emails or suppressing messages that may be excessive during the busiest time of the year.

Launch holiday-specific promotions like “Free Shipping for the Holiday Season,” or add festive holiday-themed design elements to your site and emails. When you announce new shopping tools or services, such as extended store hours or live chat customer support, tout them in your automated messages. This will help new shoppers find the information they need and show existing shoppers that you are trying to make holiday shopping convenient.

2. Shopping Cart and Checkout Optimization

Testing and optimizing your shopping cart and the checkout process is an ongoing task for any commerce marketer. With the flurry of the holiday season just around the corner, take the time to review your shopping cart.

Ask your e-commerce platform provider if there are new tools you can implement before the season is in full swing. Cart features like a cart preview on your site navigation, order customization in the cart (size, color, quantity), and immediate shipping estimates could help decrease cart abandonment rates.

Ask a teammate to step through your checkout process to observe where they struggle or where expectations are not met. Perhaps they wanted to test a promo code before entering their billing information, or want to see estimated tax and shipping costs before they got to the order review page. Reordering certain elements of your checkout process and streamlining steps can also help to decrease order abandonment. Additionally it makes an excellent first impression for first-time holiday buyers.

3. Customer Support Accessibility

You probably invested in your customer support infrastructure at some point during the past year. Don’t forget to highlight the tools you developed that help your shoppers find answers to questions, learn more about products, or solve an issue with an order. Include seasonal service offerings like extended store hours, 24/7 phone support, or live chat. Update email templates to include mentions of these and other ways customers can get help – help centers, user forums, product videos, and FAQs.

If you haven’t made any improvements to your customer support offerings, at least take the time to ensure all links and phone numbers are current and functional. Broken links and disconnected phone numbers are not the best way to spread holiday cheer to customers who need help.

Holiday planning is a massive undertaking. It’s both stressful and exciting to think about the busy months ahead. While you refine the details of your plan, take the time to step back to consider what you and your team may possibly be overlooking. It can be easy to lose sight of some of the fundamental e-commerce components, but they are essential to your holiday success.

Homepage image via Shutterstock. 

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