For many businesses, the months between November and January are the busiest of the year – and just because Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed doesn’t mean it’s over. There are still last-minute gifts to be purchased and sales to be had. In fact, over half of holiday consumers wait until the last minute to get their shopping done.
As a retailer, that means December can make or break your online sales for the year. Now, more than ever, it’s important to stand out from the slew of other online marketplaces and carve your own niche. So, how can you do that? Take an integrated approach. Marketing is important, of course, but so is SEO strategy, website performance, and even security.
Here are our tips for not only surviving but thriving, in the last weeks of the holiday shopping rush:
At this time of year, it’s important to think beyond just your website and social media. Today’s consumer does a lot of shopping online – but they also like to browse the shelves of the local retail outlet or flip through a catalog they got in the mail.
In fact, 86% of shoppers utilize at least two different channels when making a purchasing decision. Think outside the box and consider what you can do offline to help drive people to your website.
As a retailer, you need to branch out if you want to be successful. It’s not too late to get a mailer out to your audience or set up a table in a local marketplace. Not sure what to do? Consider sending out a coupon or discount code – holiday shoppers always love getting a deal!
Once you drive those prospects to your website, looking holiday-ready can be key. In fact, there are few times of year when it’s more important to visually catch the attention of would-be buyers. Here’s what you can do:
- Update your theme to give your site a festive look. WordPress offers dozens of holiday designs, from classic and elegant, to silly and fun. Bonus: create a custom header for your Facebook and Twitter to match your website’s new theme.
- Promote special offers and holiday sales right on your homepage. Holiday shoppers are stressed and often rushed, and they don’t want to dig around looking for the good deals.
- Make the checkout process simple. Have a clearly visible icon to access the shopping cart and allow customers to complete a purchase without having to create an account.
Retailers aren’t the only ones that look forward to the increased holiday traffic – hackers do, too. With the massive upswing in online purchases at this time of year, it’s the perfect time for less-than-savory individuals to try to access your website and steal private information.
On top of that, PHP 5.6 and 7.0 (the scripting language that underlies over half of all WordPress sites), will stop receiving security updates this month – making those sites inherently less secure.
To keep both yourself and your customers safe, consider taking the following measures:
- Review your plugins list and delete anything that you no longer use or that is no longer relevant, and make sure anything you are using is up-to-date
- Update your password using WordPress’ built-in password strength checker
- Use a plugin like Jetpack to limit brute-force login attempts
- Use a third-party payment gateway, like PayPal, rather than storing user’s credit card information in your own system
- Install a WordPress security plugin
- Do a WordPress backup on a regular basis just in case there is a holiday rush, security issues or glitches on your site during this busy season.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure your website’s performance is up to par. Let’s face it: customers aren’t going to hang around and wait for your page to load when they could be off shopping somewhere else. Here’s what you should do:
- Check with your hosting provider to plan for any surges in traffic. They can let you know if you need to upgrade for more resources so your site won’t unexpectedly crash when things get busy.
- Make sure your payment gateway will be able to handle the upsurge in transactions. In addition, consider offering additional forms of payment not only for your customers’ convenience but to take some of the pressure off your gateway provider.
- Optimize your site to reduce load times. That could mean getting rid of complicated graphics and huge videos, leveraging browser or caching, or about a million other things!
Completing a WordPress backup is the first step, and then you can work on the other ways to optimize and protect your website or ecommerce site during the month of December. If you have questions about how you can optimize your WordPress site for that final rush in holiday traffic, reach out today.