Optimize Your eCommerce Site for the Holiday Season

The holidays are fast approaching! If you run an e-commerce site, it’s about to get a lot more traffic. For many retailers, this is the busiest time of the year–and as a small business, it’s imperative that your website is running at peak performance.

With big sites like Amazon and Walmart to compete with, you can’t risk a poor customer experience.

Now is the time to prep and get make sure everything is in order–these are our suggestions for improving your holiday sales strategy:

Optimize for Speed

This holiday season, site speed should be your #1 priority. Studies have shown that 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less–and that 40% of them will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds.

Many retailers spend this time of year making sure their site looks perfect: they want to lure customers in with flashy graphics, big buttons, and fun videos.  But let’s face it: big impressive graphics and interactive shopping carts aren’t worth much if they won’t even load.

Before the big day arrives, make sure your web host is providing the necessary bandwidth to accommodate the increase in traffic. If you’re currently using a shared hosting service, it may be time to consider switching to VPS, where you’re guaranteed a certain allocation of resources and you can easily scale as needed.

Showcase Your Best Products

During this time of year, retailers typically get far more traffic than usual. Much of that traffic is made up of new faces–people that have either never shopped with you before, or who you haven’t seen in a long time.

You may look at this as a prime opportunity to clean out old inventory or get rid of some of the less-popular products clogging up your warehouse–but that’s not the right approach.

The fact is, when people are holiday shopping, they want the “hot ticket” items. They want what’s trendy, and fun, and bound to make an impression.

That’s why when you’re setting up your store, it’s important to highlight your top-selling merchandise. Instead of making your online store a jumbled mess with every single thing you offer, choose a few and really let them shine.

Optimize Checkout

Fact: Your visitors’ checkout experience is just as important as your page load time. Cart abandonment is a growing problem for many online retailers–and the number one reason cited is unexpected shipping costs.

Here are some other reasons customers bail at the last minute (and what you can do about it):

  • No express shipping available: During the holidays, people are anxious to receive their purchases–and the faster, the better. Offer a variety of shipping options, so they have a choice.
  • Couldn’t find a coupon code: Remember, there is always someone out there offering a better deal than you. If you want to keep your audience happy, make them feel like they’re getting a bargain.
  • Long and confusing checkout: Your checkout process shouldn’t take 15 different steps. Make it as fast and easy as possible. Bonus: don’t require customers to create an account before making a purchase–always offer the “guest checkout” option.

Optimize for Mobile

Last on our list, but certainly not least important, is mobile performance. It has been estimated that over 40% of purchases are made on mobile devices–and that’s a number you can’t ignore.

Keep in mind that the above statistics regarding load times and checkout experience apply to your mobile site as well–and make sure it’s functioning optimally before the big rush.

Other items to consider include:

  • Graphics and images, which sometimes look warped or just won’t load on a mobile device
  • Text, which can often look too small
  • Buttons, which can be hard to click if not large enough

Final Thoughts

Shoppers are already going to start heading to your online store–and you better be ready. It’s important to know how you can improve your site and create the best possible customer experience. From design, to hosting, to optimization, we can help you out. Speak to one of our knowledgeable, friendly agents today to find out how we can get you holiday-ready in no time.

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