Prepare your ecommerce business for holiday shopping

Whether you’re a new online store owner or an ecommerce veteran, it can be difficult to know how to prepare your business for the holiday shopping season. Each year is different — but the one constant is that online commerce gets a big boost every holiday season.

If you’re looking for more ways to seize the Black Friday opportunity, read on for some best practices to help you make sure your business is set up to take full advantage of the 2022 holiday shopping season.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Deloitte predicts holiday retail sales will increase between 4% and 6% in 2022, including total holiday sales of about $1.46 trillion between November and January. In particular, ecommerce sales are forecast to grow by 12.8% to 14.3% compared to the 2021 holiday season, reaching $260 billion this year.

This year’s growth will be slower than last year’s, reflecting inflation and low consumer confidence, but these trends also create opportunities. While businesses may see less growth in sales volume, they will likely see increased sales overall due to higher prices, according to the Deloitte forecast. Higher prices could also drive consumers online to look for deals — giving ecommerce businesses an opening to position themselves as the best place to shop.

Forbes confirms that online sales will “reign supreme” in 2022, and consumers are starting their holiday shopping early to spread out costs over more paychecks. So, if you’re planning to take advantage of this year’s ecommerce holiday shopping trends, the time to act is now.

Get your website ready for holiday ecommerce shopping

Before you do anything else, it’s important to make sure your ecommerce site is ready to handle a surge in holiday traffic.

Start by testing your site speed and page loading times. If pages are slow or images don’t load properly, customers can become frustrated and leave your site entirely. Even minor delays can result in lost customers and missed revenue. Once you identify issues, take action to reduce delays. Depending on your situation, you might try compressing and optimizing your images, enabling browser caching, or eliminating as many redirects as possible.

Next, test your site’s security. Give particular attention to payments to ensure they are secure and protected from fraud. If your site relies on any third-party integrations or APIs, make sure they are up to date and functioning smoothly. Trust is essential for online businesses, so make sure nothing about your website gives customers a reason to doubt that their transactions and personal information will be secure.

Ecommerce sales are expected to grow by 12.8% to 14.3% compared to the 2021 holiday season, reaching $260 billion this year.

Finally, put backups and fail-safes into place so you’re prepared for unexpected problems. Make sure you know your support options, whether through an online support platform or your hosting service. If possible, make sure you have a backup option in case of issues or outages with your primary service.

Create a holiday ecommerce strategy for selling your products

Once your ecommerce store is ready for extra holiday traffic, it’s time to determine what you’re going to sell — and how. Your overall strategy should take into account every step of the ordering and fulfillment process, from the amount of inventory on hand to the variety of sales channels available.

Decide what to sell

Your bestsellers are a given, but you should also consider whether you want to add any new products to your list of offerings. New items give customers a reason to come back to your site, and holiday-themed items are a particular draw. Another idea is to think about which of your products or services would make good gifts. You might also do some competitive research to find out what similar online businesses are offering this holiday season.

Determine the best way to feature products

Whether you’re featuring existing, new, or holiday-specific products, you have choices about how to draw attention to them on your website. You could set off a product in its own category to highlight it, or you could put it in a category with other products to promote cross-selling. Another option to consider is creating bundles of similar or complementary products. Bundles can be good for customers who aren’t sure what to buy for a gift. You can target and assist these customers by guiding them to products that make good gifts for particular people.

Use multiple channels

Customers today are accustomed to buying things not only on websites but also through social media, especially Facebook and Instagram. They appreciate the convenience of making purchases without leaving the platform they’re already on. Also consider selling products through platforms like Amazon and Walmart Marketplace. While they charge a small fee, the number of customers they can reach makes it worth the cost. The more avenues you offer for customers to buy your products, the more sales you’re likely to make. Be certain you’re equipped to handle the logistics of multiple channels.

Make sure you have enough inventory

Plan for success by assuming that you’ll have a bump in orders and ensuring you have inventory on hand to fulfill them. If you’re shipping a product yourself or having a third-party store ship it, you can plan ahead and purchase inventory to have it on hand. If you use a dropshipper, you won’t have your own inventory — but you’ll want to check with your supplier about whether they expect shortages during the holidays.

Four tips for attracting ecommerce holiday shoppers

With your strategy for selling products in place, you’re ready to start attracting customers. Here are some tried-and-true tips for drawing customers to your online store.

1. Start early

The earlier you start building up your customer base, the better. You don’t want to be scrambling to attract customers on the days before Cyber Monday or Black Friday. Instead, start early to target customers, ask for their contact information, and nurture relationships with them. That way, when the shopping season is in full swing, they’re past the stage of gathering information and weighing options, and they’re ready to make a purchase.

Advertising is the art of attracting customers’ attention to your products in a way that motivates them to engage with you. Ads are especially useful for targeting specific customers by focusing on a pain point or problem they need to solve and then offering your product as a solution. Start with paid ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Google. One approach is to highlight specific products in your ad. Another is to offer a promotion, such as 10% off in your store.

According to Forbes, online sales will “reign supreme” in 2022, and consumers are starting their holiday shopping early to spread out costs over more paychecks.

3. Use email efficiently

Email remains the most effective channel for reaching customers. Take advantage of email during the holidays to bring back customers who haven’t ordered in a while by offering exclusive discount codes. Remember that the amount of text displayed differs by device, so you’ll want to make sure the subject line is succinct and clearly communicates the content of the email.

4. Offer promotions

Promotions are a good way to not only attract new customers but also retain existing ones — particularly in a year when customers’ budgets are tight, and they are shopping around for the best prices. Here are some examples of promotions that can boost your holiday sales:

Six ways to provide a great holiday shopping experience

Once you’ve attracted customers, it’s important to consider what kind of experience they’ll have with your ecommerce business. Customers increasingly expect high-quality online experiences, and a bad customer experience can undermine even the best promotion or product selection. On the other hand, a good customer experience can set you apart from the competition, particularly in a year when people are shopping at more stores and sites.

Here are six ideas for small things you can do to make a big difference in customer experience.

1. Make it personal

If you have the data, use it to personalize what your customers see in your store by reminding them what they looked at last time or by suggesting related products. You could also target relevant reviews to shoppers or offer product education tailored to specific users. For example, some retailers are also using augmented reality to help customers envision how clothes might look on them or how furniture might look in their living room.

Not only can an ineffective search experience keep customers from finding products, but it can also be frustrating and drive people away from your store. Make sure your onsite search function returns the right products, whether customers are searching for specific products or making general queries like “gifts for mom.” You can also link to popular categories or products near the search bar or in a dropdown menu.

Your holiday ecommerce strategy should take into account every step of the ordering and fulfillment process, from the amount of inventory on hand to the variety of sales channels available.

3. Make checkout smooth

Try to limit your checkout process to one page. The more pages a user has to click through, the more chances they have to abandon their cart. You can remove even more barriers by including a guest checkout option, then inviting customers to create an account after checkout or in a follow-up email. It also helps to offer a variety of payment options, including PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. The same goes for shipping options — such as two-day, next-day, free shipping, or in-store pickup.

4. Have a plan for abandoned carts

More than two-thirds of online retail carts are abandoned, but you can recover some of those sales by notifying customers who haven’t revisited their cart after a certain amount of time. Use push notifications if you have an app or send an email. You could also offer a discount or free shipping option.

5. Make returns easy

A hassle-free return process is a major factor in customer retention, so make sure returns and exchanges are as easy as possible. Your returns policy should be easy to find on your site and prominently displayed on receipts and invoices. Include instructions for returning the product if it was received as a gift.

6. Offer support

Ideally, every customer will have a smooth experience — but unanticipated issues inevitably arise. Create an FAQ page to help customers. For those with issues beyond the most common questions, make your contact information easy to find. Have a clear plan for who will handle calls or emails and how they will address issues.

Get ready for holiday ecommerce shopping

Whether it’s stress-testing your website, using promotions to attract customers, or offering excellent customer service, preparing your business will help you have a successful holiday shopping season.

Because you’ll need to start early, marketing efforts should be a top priority. Start planning your advertising and email strategies now, including any promotions you might want to run.

Adobe Commerce helps you manage your ecommerce store, allowing you to easily add new items, recommend products, and even support all of your sales channels in one place. It’s the world’s leading digital commerce solution for merchants and brands — and it enables you to build engaging shopping experiences for every type of customer.

To learn how Adobe Commerce can help manage your ecommerce store needs, take an interactive product tour or request a demo.