Getting Your Shopify Store Ready for the Holiday Season
Brace Yourselves: Christmas is Coming
We know: everyone seems to start talking about the festive season earlier each year. But is your Shopify store ready for the Christmas rush? October is the perfect month to start preparing your online store. Don’t get snowed under in November and December.
The US saw $108 billion in online sales during this period in 2017. Customers are more willing to spend money than any other time of year. You need to make sure potential customers can find and use your store. Marketing during this period can really drive those festive sales.
Keeping up with demand is another tricky task for the holidays. We know that it can be challenging for those sellers who also manufacture their own products. This makes production planning and deadline scheduling super-important in the festive season.
Don’t get caught out by sudden spikes in demand. We here to help you anticipate these. Let your Shopify store run smoothly throughout the final months of 2018.
You need to fulfill your orders, with plenty of time for them to get to their destinations by Christmas. Missing deadlines can seriously disappoint customers — that is not good for any business’ reputation.
You need to have a game plan for the holiday season so it can be both a lucrative and enjoyable time of the year.
The holiday season should bring you many happy long-term customers. Get this right, and many customers will return all year round.
You want to get the most out of your Shopify store, while still having the time and energy to spend the holidays with your loved ones. Keep reading to find out how.
The Holiday Season
Understand the important dates from this time of year. This lets you plan your marketing strategy and pre-empt periods of high demand.
The important dates for your calendar for 2018 are:
November 22 — Thanksgiving (US)
November 23 — Black Friday
November 26 — Cyber Monday
December 10 — Green Monday
December 14 — Free Shipping Day
December 22 — Super Saturday
December 24-25 — Christmas
December 31 — New Year’s Eve
There are numerous other events and holidays, but we recommend you focus your marketing and sales strategy on the above dates.
Maybe your business manufactures party supplies. In that case then you might prioritize December 31 more than the average online store. It’s up to you to fine tune your strategy.
Some events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming more popular in Europe too.
It’s important to get this right, so you make the most of these days.
Black Friday puts retail businesses well into the black for the financial year. It makes sense to start marketing for this weekend well in-advance. Once one important date is over, get ready for the next one straight away.
Remember to pay special attention to dates concerned with online retail:
Cyber Monday — make sure your website is mobile-friendly and your point of sale is working like clockwork. You do not want to lose sales on this critical day.
Green Monday is the biggest day for online shopping in December. You can use this to promote last-minute Christmas deals, while still being able to ship your orders in time for the big day.
Free Shipping Day is where both large and small online retailers offer free shipping with a guaranteed delivery date by Christmas Eve. Use your time wisely — build up your stock beforehand so your order fulfillment cycle is at maximum efficiency.
How to Get Your Shopify Store Ready for the Holiday Season
Customize your Shopify store so customers know you mean business this holiday season. Here are some suggestions.
Seasonal Heroes: The hero section of your store page is the first thing your customers will see. You can use this to promote seasonal discounts and special offers.
Theme your heroes appropriately. For example, a black banner is a good way to promote Black Friday deals. Festive colors are a good choice for December. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here.
Seasonal Themes: These can be subtle changes, like adding a snowfall animation to your home page, or you can go all-out and Christmas-up everything. Do what fits with your company’s brand.
Festive Product Catalogs: Ask yourself which of your products will be the most popular Christmas gifts. These are the products you want to give a prominent position to on your store page.
Make related products easy to find and suggest festive bundles with discounted prices. Your aim is to make the shopping experience as easy as possible for the customer. They want to get the chore of Christmas shopping done in the most pain-free way.
Suggest related products, and upsell by offering discounted accessories to increase average basket values.
Point of Sale: It is imperative that your checkout page is functioning perfectly. Take out anything that is not necessary or could cause confusion. Having extra buttons, or too many inputs are likely to cause customers to abandon their cart, losing you money.
Think about increasing your payment options. If you are more accommodating, the customer may be more willing to part with their money. Paypal is pretty standard, and Bitcoin is becoming a more popular way to pay.
Ship to other countries? You can also set up different currencies on your store.
Mobile-friendly: Give customers the opportunity to access your store anywhere, and they are more likely to make a purchase at some point. They could be in the mood to buy when they are away from their computer. 35% of online purchases are done on mobile devices. Check out these Shopify hacks for optimizing your site for mobile.
Make these changes early, so they run smoothly when the festive rush kicks in. You do not want to be troubleshooting when you should be taking orders.
Preparing for Increases in Traffic to Your Shopify Store
Say your site receives the average traffic of 100 hits a day. You know that your page can handle this no problem. But what if you receive 1,000 visitors? Could it handle that? What about 50 customers paying for orders at the same time? If you don’t know, then you could get caught out when your site goes down due to high traffic.
There's nothing worse than receiving a bunch of orders and running out of inventory. This would seriously harm your order fulfillment time. Not to mention leaving unsatisfied customers and cancelled orders. This is the time of year where it is the most important to ship your orders on time.
More strain on postal and shipping services means you need to get your orders out ASAP.
* Your inventory management, production scheduling, and manufacturing orders will be in one package.
* You can track everything that's happening in your workshop from your own home.
* Never run out of raw materials by setting up reorder points.
* Manage your deadlines and know exactly when everything is due.
* Assign team members to new tasks that you can update at any time.
* Don’t rely on spreadsheets when you need to hit deadlines.
Holiday Season Tips for Your Shopify Store
Start early: It’s important to start getting your Shopify store ready for the holiday season well ahead of time;
Focus your efforts: Don’t try to market your store for every single holiday. Pick a few, and make sure you’re 100% ready for them;
Know your site’s limits: Anticipate changes in traffic levels. Make sure you optimize your store page to handle a little over this;
Optimize your site: Most visitors won’t wait more than five seconds for anything to load. Don’t have anything that could cause confusion and abandonment;
Imagine the worst-case scenarios: Make sure you have a backup plan if the worst happens. This is another reason to have extra landing pages. This way, you cut down on lost sales; and
Make it easy for customers to pay: Make putting a payment through as convenient as possible.
Forget your loyal customers: This is a good time to make your best customers feel valued. Show your appreciation for their year-round custom. Consider VIP incentives like points or vouchers;
Ignore timing: Get your ads, landing pages, and promotions rolled out before the big dates. You can’t afford to lose hours by waiting until the day itself. Remember, customers could be shopping at all hours, and ordering from other time zones;
Make major changes: The busiest time of year is not a good opportunity to redesign your site. You need a well-tested and reliable site; and
Make promises you can’t keep: Be completely transparent with your customers. If you say that you can deliver by Christmas Eve, then your order fulfillment process needs to be on point.
How Do I Market a Shopify Holiday Store?
Ads — Online ads get more expensive the closer you get to Christmas. Get this secured as early as possible. Facebook ads are still well-priced for the amount of traffic they can generate. The holiday season shows increased conversion rates, but also increased competition.
Promote your store — Write to trade magazines or websites in your industry. You can pay to have your store featured on their site. This is a cost-effective way to speak directly to your customers. If you go to independent sites you can negotiate your price. A deal, or long-term sponsorship could be mutually beneficial.
Email List — make sure you have your contact pool set up before the holiday season. Brand awareness is what is going to get customers to choose you for their Christmas shopping. Email is a powerful tool that can significantly increase sales revenue, so take the time to get it right.
Holiday Email Tips For Shopify Stores
Build up your contacts year-round with a strong, converting store page;
Write emails in advance so you don’t have to write under pressure;
Set a schedule and automate sending out emails;
Manage your contacts into groups like active and inactive customers. This way you can target these groups with specific emails; and
Create emails that convert with customizable email templates.
Promotions — Make them relevant to the holiday season. Suggest gifts by having festive collections: “Gifts for Him/Her”, “Gifts for the outdoor enthusiast”, and so on. Offer deals, like discounts for multiple-item baskets. There are so many difference incentives you can offer.
Go the extra mile — Offer convenient services like gift-wrapping options. This could be a deciding factor when a potential customer is choosing where to spend their money.
Blogging — A great way to get more people to visit your site. You can build up a following, who will be more open to become your customers.
Photo and Video — Social media features like Instagram Stories is super-popular right now. There are many creative ways to market your business using multimedia.
Holiday Marketing Campaigns on Shopify
No matter what you manufacture, you are also a marketer. Even with the best product in the world, if you don’t market it, your online store won’t live up to its potential.
Make sure your brand communication is on-point. This is the time when people are eager to spend money, and you need to go straight to your target audience. Consider your target user carefully. Is your marketing campaign set up to reach them?
Companies like Walmart cast their marketing net wide. But this is not a good strategy for a small businesses. Market deep, not wide. This allows you to get the most out of every dollar and minute spent on marketing.
Make sure your marketing message is clear. Consider that most shoppers are buying gifts for others. We don’t have the same insider knowledge about our friends and families’ hobbies and tastes. Make your content is understandable for the layman.
Remember it’s easier to market to existing customers than gain new ones. Do what you can to let your existing customers know they are valued. Show your appreciation by offering them exclusive access to things like VIP discounts or unique sales.
Shopify Post-Holiday Sale
A post-holiday sale that starts on December 26 is a good way to get rid of excess stock. If you do this early, then you can get your new year’s inventory orders in early too.
That way, you can start 2019 in a strong, organized position.
Have your item markdowns ready for the day after Christmas. You should not have to think about it, as you have your game plan.
Have your returns policy and logistics set up just in case.
Remember: Your Shopify store does not have to take over your life. There are ways to keep selling, even if you choose to take a break from your store.
One solution is to let customers on your site know that there may be some delay before shipping. That way, they can place an order without disappointment, as your fulfillment time is completely transparent.
Receive Shopify orders without logging into your Shopify account. You can integrate Shopify with your production planning and inventory management software.
Katana’s Smart Workshop Software will automatically receive all your online orders.
This way, your team can get manufacturing orders done even when you are away from your workshop. You can use the cloud-based system to manage inventory, track orders, and assign tasks to your team.
Manage your workshop from home at any time.
You can also set deadline priorities and queue up lower priority orders for when you get back.
The more prep you do, the better. If something doesn’t quite go to plan, take note of it and do it better next year.
Remember that working smart is better than working hard. There’s no need to bust a gut trying to keep your store together, when there are easier and more effective ways.
October and November are the months to invest in marketing your online store. This can bring a lot of customers to your business.
You can integrate your Shopify store with Katana so you always know what is going on with your online store.
It reduces the time it takes to receive, plan, and manufacture an order. This saves valuable hours and days during the busiest time of year.
Katana is a response to the confusing modular software already on the market. It brings your order fulfillment process into one piece of software. It updates automatically, even if you are out of the workshop.
Manage your workshop down to a T from anywhere and beat the Christmas rush.