2020 has been the year of the layoff. In Europe, England has just announced another national lockdown while France, Germany, Belgium, and Ireland have shut down large portions of their societies. Meaning e-Commerce businesses are now in demand more than ever.

All business owners need to be on high alert, because as worldwide COVID-19 cases continue to climb, they could be ordered to shut down at a moment’s notice. Many assume that airlines were hit the hardest from the pandemic, but retail layoffs were about 40 times higher, and affected nearly 2 million people in the United States alone.

The reason for these mass retail layoffs is quite simple, people either can’t, or don’t want to shop in stores right now when they can shop online from the safety of their homes. We witnessed a huge increase in online sales of 43% just this September, it’s probably safe to assume that figure will grow during the busiest shopping months of the year – November and December.

e-Commerce businesses have never needed more guidance. So without further adieu, let’s dive into how your online store should look and function during the 2020 holidays, some seasonal marketing strategies, and ultimately how you can learn from it for the future.

Look the part

During the holidays, shoppers are used to walking through malls filled with 30ft evergreens wrapped in dazzling lights. While that may not be possible this year, it doesn’t mean that your website can’t get into the holiday spirit. Some best practices to keep in mind when giving your site a holiday makeover are:

  • Double check your feature image. Your feature image is the big (should always be big) picture of your product. It’s the first thing customers see. So be honest with yourself when assessing it and deciding whether it would prompt a customer to look at your gallery of images.
  • Keep the gallery short and sweet. Your gallery images are the additional product shots that customers can look through. Only use as many as you need to give your customer a good look at your product.
  • Use white backgrounds to display your products. It creates less clutter on your site and makes your products stand out more than they would over a darker background.
  • Only use hi-res images. If you’re going to add holiday imagery, make sure Prancer isn’t pixel-y. A couple of great resources for finding free hi-res stock images are Unsplash and Pexels.

Also make sure that everything you do to your site transitions smoothly to mobile, after all, 75% of online shopping on is done through our phones.

Act the part

You ever bite into a rotten apple? Not only do you feel disgusted, you also feel deceived. Deceived by its pristine shiny skin hiding a mushy mouthful underneath it all. You don’t want your website to be like a rotten apple. You’ve worked so hard making it look great, and now need to make sure what’s inside it functions to the best of its ability. Here are some tips to assure just that:

  • Automate shipping, selling, and fulfilment. These are time consuming tasks that don’t need to be done by you. Talk to the warehouse where you keep your product about their fulfillment services, or someone like us who can help automate selling.
  • Enable cart abandonment functions. Sometimes online shoppers will put items in their cart and then leave before purchasing. If this happens on your site, you can enable functions like follow-up emails that notify your customers of their abandoned cart.
  • Enable product recommendations. Let’s say you’ve noticed a correlation in sales between product X and Y. You can use that data to sell more Y when people are looking at X or vice versa. Enabling product recommendations for correlated sales is a great way to increase online sales.

Having a great site experience is the online equivalent of having a good in-store shopping experience. It’s what your customers are going to remember and what’s going to get them coming back in the future.

Strategize the part.

Children across the globe aren’t going to write to you about the gifts they want these holidays. So unlike Santa, you’re going to have to be strategic about how you get your customers’ business. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Highlight your holiday promotions.e-Commerce businesses should be offering special promotions these holidays (which you should be, everyone else will) make sure that they’re front, center, and impossible for anyone to miss.
  • Use seasonal gift wrap. Marketing doesn’t stop once someone has made the purchase. Remember, people are going to be posting on social media some of their favourite gifts. So make sure yours is beautiful enough to share, and your logo or company name is easy to spot.
  • Sell experiences. Everyone can be and has been buying things since the pandemic, but what we’re all yearning for are experiences. If your company can sell an experience that makes sense, then do it. For example a restaurant that sells an online cooking class.
  • Gift cards. It’s not always easy finding the perfect gift for someone. But what is easy is buying them a gift card so that person can buy their own perfect gift. Don’t miss out on this opportunity for added revenue.

The holidays are a very cluttered time competing for customers’ attention, so also be strategic about where you show them these deals. Try targeting social channels that you know your customers are already on.

Measuring success

You’ve got a good idea of what you need to do before the holidays, but what good is all the hard work if it can’t be measured? To make sure every holiday season is not just a selling experience but also a learning experience you can do the following.

  • Set holiday specific KPIs. KPIs are a great way of measuring success, and I’m sure you use them throughout the year. You can tweak or create new KPIs for the holiday season to see how you fared during the most business competitive time of the year.
  • Evaluate the data and use it to guide you for holidays 2021. Some of the metrics you should track are sales, average order value, conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment rate, mobile site traffic, and site speed. Take the time to go through all the data and see where you were successful and where you can improve for next year.

Remember, what you’re doing isn’t easy. Holiday shopping is the most competitive time of year for e-Commerce businesses and you deserve credit for stepping up to the challenge. We believe in you and want to give you all the tools for success. Now it’s up to you to use those tools.