20 Oct

Top 5 E-Commerce Holiday Planning Tips

When you’re expecting an increase in traffic, it’s best to plan ahead to make sure your eCommerce site is ready to handle the surge of shoppers. These tips will help you prepare for all your new customers while offering a stellar user experience and tricks for boosting performance.

The Basics

Seriously folks. I really mean basic here. You may already have these in place. If so, kudos to you. You’re one step ahead of the curve.

Renew your hosting plan and domain name

When you’re promoting your products this holiday season, the last thing you want to happen is for your website to go down. And one of the silliest ways that can happen is by forgetting to renew your hosting plan or domain name. I cannot tell you enough how many times we get phone calls from people saying that they can’t access their website because their domain name wasn’t renewed. Now this can happen for many reasons, expired credit card, tied to an employees email address who is no longer with the company or maybe it just slipped your mind.

Before you space it off, open those accounts or check your inbox – when is it time to renew? Especially if you paid for a year of service during a holiday sale (looking at you, Black Friday shoppers), make sure you’re set to renew before the expiration date hits, that way your own holiday traffic isn’t impacted. Sure, it seems obvious, but it happens.

If your domain name is registered with Big Hippo Host, fear not, we monitor our customers accounts for this.

Update your site information

Even if you’re not necessarily doing a big promotion for the holidays, other people might start driving lots of traffic towards your site. And if you are doing a major sale, you can guarantee an increase of new visitors to your site. So, make sure they can find the information they need.

Go through all of your products – are prices and descriptions correct? Are there any specs missing that people frequently ask about? And if you’re doing a holiday promotion, does the discount code work? Try to test everything you can before the traffic hits, to ensure you’ve got a smooth checkout process. The better your user experience is, the more sales you can expect to make! If you are struggling with identifying the pain points, let Bluehive Interactive help you out.

And last, be sure to cover your bases with things like return policies and promotion details. During the holidays, you truly never know who will stumble onto your site, so try to foresee any unique cases you won’t be able to help (such as foreign shoppers, if you only do domestic shipping). Better to be upfront with those policies than to let people down after they’ve added to their cart, or worse, put in their credit card information. That makes for a very unpleasant user experience, and could result in some negative PR.

Be prepared to run out of inventory

Along the lines of user experience, what happens on your site when you run out of an item? Will the site inventory reflect what’s actually available or update estimated production times? This is information your potential customers would definitely like to know prior to purchasing.

Step One

Make sure your site details update (or you manually update them) as things start disappearing from your inventory.

Step Two

Optimize your site so you don’t lose any leads. For example, if an item runs out, instead of an “Add to cart” option, you could replace it with an email opt-in to let the user know when the item is back in stock. Then, even if they can’t partake in the current sale, you can bring them back to the site in the future. Let’s face it – people won’t always remember to come back on their own, but if you send them an email, it’s like a personal reminder in their inbox to check out your next round of products and get them back on the site.

Purchase an SSL certificate

Much like the hosting plan and domain name, hopefully you’ve already got this one squared away. But just in case you’re launching a brand new eCommerce site, you’ll want to install an SSL certificate. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), is a protocol used to secure and encrypt communication between computers. In other words, it helps keep sensitive information on your site incredibly secure. This includes things like passwords, credit card information, banking credentials – basically all of the information your site stores that you (and your users) would want to remain safe. So as an e-commerce store, it’s critical to have an SSL certificate installed on your site.

Optimize your images

Images are often some of the largest files on a page, meaning they can be responsible for some of the longest delays in load time. As an e-commerce site, you’re naturally going to have a lot of images to display – not much you can do about that. But what you can do is optimize those images. By compressing the file sizes instead of just throwing any old picture on your site, you can drastically cut load time and keep things running fast.

The best part is that image optimization is actually pretty easy to do! All you need are the right tools. Basically, the goal is to get your final image to the size you actually need (not something too large) and at a quality that works well (not the absolute best, unless you really need that). To help, we recommend some tools like:

A quick note: The tricky part is that even if you upload a well-compressed image, if your WordPress theme creates “duplicates” with different sizes (like smaller versions and thumbnails), those new images will not be compressed. (Inconvenient, we know.) So to help with that, we recommend TinyPNG for WordPress or EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud.

Take Action Now

The holiday rush is just a few weeks away. Many of these items can be completed in just a few minutes. We understand that you maybe too busy running your business to step away. If you have holiday help hired, use them to complete these tasks. If you are unable to dedicate the time yourself, let Bluehive Interactive provide a review of your e-commerce website. We’d be happy to provide a quote to ensure your website is in tip top shape for the 2016 holiday season. Simply reach out to us via our “Get a Quote” page. We love working with e-commerce brands of all sizes!

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