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Christmas Checklist for Ecommerce Owners

By November 3, 2020April 14th, 2021No Comments

2020 was a crazy year. COVID-19 struck hard on us. As we reacted to the situation, we completely changed our lifestyle.

Influenced by this change, many industries had to change their ways. Some that failed to do so filed bankruptcy, while other that adjusted to online services had survived.

For ecommerce industries, it was an unexpected boost. People adjusted to the experience of shopping online, and the sales rate spiked up! Now, the most hectic time of the year is coming closer.

The Christmas holiday shopping spree.

This year’s Christmas is likely going to be even more hectic than the usual years. More competition and more orders. Are you prepared to tackle the holiday season?

For those ecommerce owners who are slightly not there yet, here is a Christmas checklist for ecommerce owners to follow.

1. Plan selling, shipping and fulfilment ahead

The first section on the Christmas checklist is about planning and making arrangements ahead of time.

The Christmas sale period is one of the biggest opportunities in ecommerce. Make sure you thoroughly get your processes organised. You wouldn’t want to mess up your fulfilment and delay those orders.

Prepare a Plan B for your shipping

One of the top items on the Christmas checklist. It is always good to think of a Plan B, just in case. Why? No matter how well you are prepared, accidents can happen.

Especially for something out of your control.

This goes even further during the busy Christmas season. It is common for couriers and their system to be overloaded. So, think of another shipping plan where you can start sending within a few minutes.

Sell to a wider market

With COVID in place, it is good to expand your sales channel. Try considering channels such as online marketplaces, brick-and-mortar shops (B&M) and cross-border.

Online marketplaces refer to big online shopping platforms, such as Amazon and eBay. Make sure that you keep your page as polished as your own website. Also, make sure you take control and ensure smooth customer service.

If you are a B&M shop, consider the option of buying online. You can also utilise the benefit of having a physical shop. How? By allowing pickups. (Known as BOPIS – Buy Online Pickup In-Store.)

The method of BOPIS has become more mainstream during the COVID pandemic. In fact, Adobe found that the BOPIS rate has increased by 195% YOY. The biggest benefit of this is that you can get the product on that day. Great for last-minute Christmas presents!

Lastly, cross-border. International sales are a great step for growth. The holiday season is one of the best time to try it. After all, many countries celebrate Christmas now! However, make sure you fully prepare beforehand. There are a lot of policies and rules in international shipping. It is not something you can go through instantaneously.

Overall, more people will see your product. That will lead to awareness and purchase.

Streamline processes

Besides the shipping dates and arrangements, try to look at other portions in your fulfilment process. It is going to be a busy period, slack off wherever you can.

For example, pre-pack some of your best-selling products or bundles. Invest in a label printer and stop using the normal office printer. Decide on your staff’s shifts early on.

Anything that will help you save time. You will then be able to use that time for focusing on fulfilment.

Provide clear return policies

According to BigCommerce, 96% of consumers will return to an online store that provided a smooth return and exchange process. Christmas is the best time to show that.

With more orders comes an increased rate of returns and exchanges. This adds up to your busy schedule. If you’re too busy without a proper return policy, it will get chaotic. Customers do not like chaos either.

So, write a proper policy to make things painless for both your operations and customers. Speaking of ‘painless’, make the return policy less strict during the holiday shopping spree. Customers love easy returns and exchanges.

Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • Use resealable mailers or send an extra mailer with the shipment.
  • Provide instructions on how to repack using the original shipping package.
  • Clarify policies by reviewing your FAQ page.
  • Utilise the RMA (Return Merchandise Authorisation) to lessen the hassle.

In-house vs Outsource

The holiday shopping spree is a good time to think about where you want your business to go.

If you are currently fulfilling in-house, estimate the number of orders you will get. If it is not too much and you can handle it, that’s brilliant. Just prepare early and you should be able to make it.

However, if the number of orders seems to be high, that is an alert sign.

More orders mean more shipment and inventory management. This can be costly and busy, that you will end up slowing down your business. Before that happens, try outsourcing your fulfilment process.

For example, there are many third-party logistics (3PL) that can help your ecommerce business (like KeepSpace!) Using a 3PL usually ends up with cheaper costs and higher customer satisfaction.

If you want to learn more about 3PLs, check out our other blog posts.

2. Best customer experience

The second section on our Christmas checklist is about customer experience. While you want to make more profit, that depends on the consumers. Look at this section of the Christmas checklist to figure out how to satisfy customers.

Optimise searching products

Potential customers will take most of their time browsing on your website. Provide a great browsing experience so that the customer will purchase your product.

Personalisation

Personalisation is the rage. People like it when they can easily find something that aligns with their preferences. Utilise personalisation on your website as well.

For example, let’s say you have gained access to the customer’s search history (at least within the site). Your website can then analyse the common points and show the product that has the closest properties.

You customer will be able to save time by skipping a step, manually searching for a product.

Recommend other products

There are two instances where you can recommend other products.

First, is in the ‘you may also like’ section. This is the same as the personalisation functionality. Your website should check the properties of the product the customer is currently looking at. Then, present the products that have common characteristics.

That could be simply the brand. The type of material. The type of product. Or more.

Another instance is when there is no match to what the customer is searching for. Usually, customers look for products using the search bar (which hopefully is on your website too).

Seeing a ‘not found’ page after typing in what you want isn’t a pleasant feeling. Therefore, instead of showing an empty page, show recommendations. For example, products on a Christmas bargain or a limited-edition product.

Optimise checkout page

If a customer navigates to the checkout page, it means they have already decided on making a purchase. Done. Make the check out smooth so that you won’t lose that customer.

Simplify checkout page to one page

Waiting for multiple pages to load, and clicking on the ‘next’ button? These will give the customer the time to navigate away from your store. Do not let them have that time!

Just load all of the checkout content on one page. After all, we are now so used to skimming through information just by scrolling down. (As in, flicking your smartphones!)

Let your customers checkout in the easier format that they are used to. This will lead to customer satisfaction.

Enable guest checkout

Anonymous checkouts are especially important for new customers. Many customers do not feel comfortable providing their information to a first-time store. It requires trust in the merchant.

Requiring registration also interrupts the shopping process. Again, customers have already decided to buy a product. They want the checkout process to be simple and quick.

The importance of anonymous checkouts increases during the Christmas period. After all, everyone is probably searching all over the place to find the perfect Christmas present.

Guest checkouts are quicker and are less of a burden. It also erases the potential perceptions that you are after the user’s data. Let your customer get what they need with less commitment. If they liked it, they will probably come back to make an account.

Enable multi-recipient functionality

Presents require wrappings. Can you provide that? Good.

Multiple presents have different destinations (or recipients). Can you allow your customer to send them all at one go? If you can’t, enable multi-recipient functionality on your online store.

This functionality allows customers to send specific items to different addresses. The function will make your store a one-stop-shop.

Checking out each gift and sending to each recipient can be stressful. Take that unnecessary stress away from your customers.

Allow multiple payment methods

Customers will have different preferences in payment methods. If your site doesn’t allow those methods, you can easily lose them.

Try to offer more payment methods, such as PayPal and American Express. Provide as many secure payment methods as possible. That way, it is convenient for the customers. They will appreciate being able to pay in the way they wish.

Brand packaging and unwrapping experience

Alongside their ‘brand’, ecommerce stores usually have a deep story to tell.

The story is what drives people to buy from that specific store. It differentiates itself from other online stores and retail shops. Besides telling your story on your website and social media, you need to have a physical component to get your story through.

That is where your packaging comes in. Customers will be reminded of your story through your package design. They will be reminded when they unwrap and find your marketing materials. It makes the experience unique.

That is where your packaging comes in. Customers will be reminded of your story through your package design. They will be reminded when they unwrap and find your marketing materials. It makes the experience unique.

Use packaging to enhance your brand imagery. Not only does it improve customer experience, but it also conveys your store’s resourcefulness and sustainability.

And again, don’t forget to add the spice of Christmas in your storytelling.

Provide customer loyalty programs

Another way to enhance customer experience is to provide content that is based on loyalty or membership.

One common example is giving a gift card. Not only can they use it themselves, but they can also give it to their friends as a Christmas present. A chance to gain new customers!

Another example is a reward point system. It may usually be associated with retail stores and their points cards, but you can do it for ecommerce too! First, provide earlier opportunities for collecting points (such as other holidays earlier in the year). Their points will accumulate and they can use them during the Christmas sale period.

For new customers, you can promote the benefits of becoming a member. This slightly overlaps with marketing, which we will look at next.

3. Marketing strategies

The last section on the Christmas checklist is to let the world know about how Christmas-ready your store is!

Your store must be fully ready to release its promotions and campaigns before the actual holiday spending season. Why? It’s because people shop their Christmas presents earlier.

Therefore, to sell your products, people need to know about them even earlier.

Here are some marketing strategies to boost your store’s performance during the holiday season.

Get into the Christmas spirit

No, this does not mean emotionally get into the Christmas spirit. (Although, that is important as well.) It means to modify your overall content, to evoke the heart-fluttering Christmas sensation.

Even though you are ready for the holiday shopping spree, if your customers don’t sense that enthusiasm from your content, they may feel it is not worth it. It may also lower your brand perception, as customers may think you were too lazy.

To avoid this, create attractive banners, logos and marketing content that give off a Christmas vibe. Also, highlight your offers and discounts to convey the sense that your store is doing something special for Christmas.

Everybody loves the cheerful aesthetic of Christmas! So make sure to check this off the Christmas checklist.

Email Marketing

The loved classic in digital marketing, emails are still a crucial factor in holiday marketing.

Unlike social media, one of the strengths of emails is that you can create the content to be more personal to the recipient. Therefore, you can target specific customers in a certain way that raises the possibility that they will buy your product.

Except, you need to tweak bits and pieces to thrive during the Christmas holidays.

Send holiday offers

Let your customers know about what you are offering during the Christmas season!

Send coupon codes for them to use and provide information about your other promotions and campaigns. Suggest sets or bundles and other products on sale. Add that sense of urgency so that they don’t miss out.

Don’t forget to add the Christmas decorations to make your email compelling! (Banners, logos, and other Christmas like designs.)

Notify cart abandonment

A bar graph titled: Cart Abandonment rate in Australia (2018). Left green bar shows a rate of 57% for all period, while the bar on the right shows an increase by 10% during the Christmas season (indicated by a red section on the top of the right bar). Results in a rate of 67%.

Christmas is a busy season when everyone is searching for the best gift with the best offer. Customers are likely shopping across multiple online stores during the season. It is no wonder that they might forget about yours.

One study from BigCommerce found that the cart abandonment rate in Australia during Christmas shopping was about 67% in 2018. That is approximately 10% higher than the rate for all period (from the SAP Consumer Propensity Study in 2018)!

Therefore, it is good to send a kind reminder to your customers if they have forgotten about their cart. With your personalised online store, they will likely go back and continue their shopping, leading to a boost in your holiday sales.

Reach out to old customers

Do you miss those customers that used to visit your online store? Well, let them know that you do!

Send an email to that customer who has not been browsing your store for a while. They have probably forgotten about your site as well, so make sure to remind them about what you can provide.

Also, try to target customers who have previously purchased from your store. Selling to your previous customers is more undemanding compared to new customers.

Thanks to their previous experience of buying your product, it is also more likely that they will be friendlier to your Christmas sales.

Social Media

Next is the newer component of digital marketing, social media.

Opposite to emails, social media allows you to reach out to a wider audience. Unlike emails, it is the best place to gain engagement as well. All you need is quality content and campaign ideas to post on your account.

You will also need to slightly differentiate your campaign and content depending on the social media platforms you use. For example, post a story on Instagram, create an original hashtag on Twitter, post a good post on Facebook, and so on.

When you post your beautiful photos, it is good to know the best ratio for each site as well.

But overall, don’t forget the Christmas atmosphere for your content, profile, header and description!

Holiday contests and giveaways

A brilliant way to gain engagement and spread your product on social media is holding contests and giveaways. Everyone loves a little challenge and a freebie!

The most basic yet effective example of a contest is the ‘like/share-to-win’ campaign. People only need to tap or click that one button, and they are in the contest. The post spreads, and more people will be aware of your store.

Want to have more fun? Try the ‘best photo/comment’ contest! Everyone wants to share their photography skills and figure of speech. Provide the opportunity and reward them with your freebie.

Holiday blog content

You can write a blog related to the upcoming Christmas season. (Just like this Christmas checklist blog.) However, make sure it is still relevant to your blog. Have a clear vision of your target audience as well.

Also, remember to provide useful and engaging content. People search on the web because they want answers and good tips. They want to see something new or fun.

Give thanks to loyal customers

It is almost the end of the year, and your loyal customers have followed your brand till now. It is probably the best time to tell your hearty and warm gratitude to them.

Not just by your services, but directly through words.

The last two items on the Christmas checklist are simple ways to give thanks and to give back to your loyal, loving customers.

example-of-a-thank-you-card

Send a thank you card

If you usually attach a personalised thank you card as a part of your fulfilment, this is probably not new to you.

Attach one during the holiday season as well! Only remember, design it for Christmas! Be the ecommerce Santa Clause!

Send an eyecatching e-card

If you don’t have the chance to attach a paper card, try sending an e-card that expresses your utmost gratitude. Since it is digital, you can easily customise it with gif animations and other illustrations.

Conclusion/Review

Finally, we have gone through the entire list. Here’s a shortened version of the Christmas checklist for ecommerce owners.

  1. Plan selling, shipping and fulfilment ahead
    1. Check courier shipping days
    2. Sell to a wider market
    3. Streamline processes
    4. Provide clear return policies
    5. In-house vs. Outsource
  2. Best customer experience
    1. Optimise searching products
    2. Optimise checkout page
      1. Simplify checkout page to one page
      2. Enable guest checkout
      3. Enable multi-recipient functionality
      4. Allow multiple payment methods
    3. Brand packaging and unwrapping experience
    4. Provide customer loyalty programs
  3. Marketing strategies
    1. Get into the Christmas spirit
    2. Email marketing
      1. Send holiday offers
      2. Notify cart abandonment
      3. Reach out to old customers
    3. Social media
      1. Holiday contests and giveaways
    4. Holiday blog content
    5. Give thanks to loyal customers
      1. Send a thank you card
      2. Send an eyecatching e-card

Think ahead to the next season

After a busy period and patting yourself on the back, try to plan ahead and think of next year’s Christmas.

First, reflect on how you carried during this year’s holiday shopping spree. If you found any difficulty in some parts of the fulfilment process, try to improve it.

Did you have problems with couriers? Were you shorthanded? Were there less traffic than you have expected? Refine your Christmas checklist, and you will be on the way to a successful holiday season for next year.

Looking to outsource for the Christmas season?

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