Blog - Virid: People-Powered eCommerce

The Ultimate eCommerce Holiday Checklist

No eCommerce manager is a stranger to the stress of the holiday season. Sure, increased traffic means more sales, but it also means more opportunities for site issues, customer service snafus, and shipping dilemmas. By now most retailers have already begun preparing for the holidays, but in the final months before the season officially starts, make sure you've gone through the following checklist:

Perform a site experience audit:

Site speed is one of the most important aspects of your eCommerce site experience, especially during holiday. According to the Nielsen Norman Groupmost users stay on a site less than 59 seconds before clicking away. That gives you less than a minute to capture consumers' attention and guide them to a product detail page. Don't let a slow loading site cut that time in half.

Ensure navigation is intuitive. Are you allowing visitors to follow the desire path (aka the quickest way from point A to point B)? Or are you pulling them in different directions with superfluous clicks and other distractions? Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer–they don't care about your perfectly crafted kickers or beautifully designed banners. They are usually looking for specific products, and they should be able to find them quickly. The ideal site experience allows the consumer to be in control of their own journey to checkout.

Optimize site search. Help customers fill in the blanks with category and search filters, and autocomplete preselected popular keywords. And, make sure you leave room for typos and different types of queries. Check out our comprehensive guide to search for more tips.

Streamline your merchandising:

The latest updates to Virid's marketAgility eCommerce platform allow for content automation and increased efficiencies for merchandisers, which will be especially critical in preparation for the holidays. Allow your platform do as much of the heavy lifting as you can when it comes to merchandising your products.

Also, be sure to optimize your site so customers can find what they're looking for. Order your filters by popularity, and highlight your most-trafficked categories and searches to help increase conversions. If you have certain trending products, are there other ways to merchandise so that they stand out? Explore your site as a shopper would, and draw on last year's consumer data to support your strategy. Check out our partners at SearchSpring for more holiday merchandising best practices.

Enable multiple forms of payment:

We've said it time and time again, the number one tenet of a killer eCommerce site experience is allowing customers to shop where they want, how they want. Accepting multiple forms of payment like Apple Pay or PayPal gives customers an unrestricted shopping experience, and removes a barrier to checkout that could be limiting your sales, especially during  the holiday season.

Optimize for mobile:

This past holiday season, mobile overtook desktop for the first time in terms of eCommerce purchases. Meet your customers where they are, and allow them to shop the way they want by ensuring your site is responsive and can support mobile shopping. For example, consider if your site passes the "thumb zone test," and make sure your ratings and reviews also display correctly on mobile. A mobile optimized site is imperative to a positive customer experience all year round, but can be especially crucial in driving holiday sales.

Refresh your email marketing:

Holiday is the perfect time to utilize email marketing. Check out this guide to optimizing holiday emails from Revere. And when optimizing for mobile, think beyond just your product detail pages. According to Adestraemails that display incorrectly on mobile may be deleted within 3 seconds. When creating your holiday emails, reference guides like MailChimp's comprehensive page on mobile-friendly email design. Don't let your email campaigns end up in your customers' junk folders.

Leverage user-generated content:

Holiday provides ample opportunity for utilizing user-generated content in your marketing strategy. One of the best ways to do this is to enable your customers to sell your products for you. Use dedicated campaign hashtags for the holidays so customers can tag their posts and partner with micro-influencers who are already using your products for a holiday campaign.

Make the most of product reviews on your site by highlighting positive reviews on social media, and reaching out to customers in the months before holiday begins to start garnering new reviews for your products. The added social proof of reviews is particularly important to increasing conversions, especially during the holiday season.

Fortify your customer service:

This should go without saying, but make sure your customer service team is prepared for the holiday rush. Ramp up training in the months leading up to the holidays, and prepare the team to deal with site issues. Be sure to also regularly monitor social media, reviews, and questions on your site to catch any issues early. With Revere, Virid's ratings and reviews platform, brands can automatically escalate reviews or questions with certain keywords directly to their customer service team, right from the Admin tool. Catching issues early on can make or break the customer experience, particularly during the holiday rush.

Don't neglect your post-purchase experience: 

The customer experience is only just beginning at checkout. A great way to win points with your customers is to enable multiple shipping options, as well as Buy Online Pickup in Store, to give them greater flexibility, which is especially valuable during the holidays when customers often need their products by a certain date.

When it comes to fulfillment, it may be worthwhile to consider outsourcing your fulfillment to a third party. This can provide a number of benefits, including more opportunities for success at a lower cost, and even shipping and packaging discounts,

Post-checkout, ensure you are making the most of post-purchase emails to increase brand engagement and earn product reviews. And of course, make sure your returns process is intuitive and convenientfor the consumer. 67% of shoppers will read a brand's return policy before even making a purchase, and 92% of consumers will purchase a product from a brand again if the returns process was easy.

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Holiday is quickly approaching, and retailers can never be too prepared for the season's challenges. If you need help preparing your eCommerce business for the holiday season, contact our team of experts for a personalized holiday site analysis.

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Topics: mobile, checklist, CX, holiday, customer experience, General

Written by Rachel Hobble