Holiday Planning for Ecommerce Stores: A Project Manager’s Perspective

At Command C, we always remind ourselves that we aren’t the typical users of the sites we maintain and build. But one experience we do share with your customers – and you – is that of holiday shopping. When planning your holiday season website strategy, put yourselves in your customers’ shoes. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the pitfalls you’ve experienced shopping on other sites?
  • How can you make holiday shopping seamless and enjoyable?
  • How can you deliver 100% on your customers’ expectations so you’re not seen as the Grinch?

While you’re focusing on your customers’ needs for the holidays, let us focus on yours.

Image credit: Custora

As a project manager, I work with clients, developers, designers, and third parties to execute your visions on time, on cost and to your specifications.

I shoot emails, calls and Slack messages to our developers all day. I’m always asking whether they can make something happen for a client. If you articulate your ideal-world scenario or vision for us, we can most likely build it for you. And if we know your ultimate goal behind a change on your site, we can recommend the best route to get you there.

So, it’s pretty simple: I said we could execute your vision on time, on spec and on budget, right? Right. Let’s take a step back, though.

By the time we understand your goal, have a firm timeline and budget, and iron out the specs, much of the work has already happened. We’ve worked together to make sure we’re all on the same page before even a single line of code has been written. It’s this kind of pre-production that ensures we stay on track. We want to have ample time to test before a new feature is rolled out on your site.

So what do we need from you to prepare for the holidays?

First, we need to know your vision. Sometimes folks come to us with something really specific that they want to put in place. But more often we’re given a goal. What experience are you ultimately trying to deliver for your customers? If we know that goal, we’re able to suggest methods or ways to get there that you may not have thought of. We can use our ecommerce experience to help you figure out the best way to do what you’d like to do. You’re the expert at your business and we’re the experts at ours. Once we have all the specifications down we can work on the timeline.

Second, we need time. We can’t overstate how important this is. The period approaching and up through the holidays is always our busiest time, as it likely is yours. We support a lot of ecommerce businesses and they all have the same dates circled in their calendars. The last thing you want is have something special you’d like to roll out on your site, but not be able to because you’ve run out of time.

We hate having to tell clients that there isn’t time to deploy something. But experimenting with a new feature that hasn’t been fully tested at the peak shopping time of the year can be dangerous.

Reaching out while we’re still in the Q2 or Q3 period is the ideal time to talk about your holiday plans. Yes, while people are still at the beach. For an ecommerce store, right now is the right time to check in about the holidays.

With enough time we can confidently set you up well for a great Q4 and all the treats you have in store for your customers. So let’s get the ball rolling for you, your team and your customers!

Drop us a line and let us know what you’re thinking about and planning for the holidays this year. Here are a few things you may want to consider:

  • Shipping. What’s good about buying someone the perfect gift if it doesn’t arrive on time? Think about adding a modular window to your homepage that you can control and update with the countdown for getting orders in time for holiday shipping. This is a fairly simple solution to put into place. It will ensure that your customers will know the last possible day to place their orders. It will help avoid confusion and prevent you from having to reply to a slew of emails all asking the same question. Along with this, do your shipping options need updating for the season?
  • Create a “Gifts” category. Consider adding a new category to your nav just for the holiday season. Hand select the items you think belong in there, and/or those you’re ambitious to sell.
  • Suggest gift items, bundles and a variety of price points. We can update your product listings to automatically display gifts in a specific price range. Or  you could suggest popular holiday gifts. We can also discuss how to bundle sets of products together for the holidays to make shopping easier.
  • Consider seasonal email blasts or flash sales. Be sure to give us a heads up so we can make sure you have everything in place to support those. We can tune your hosting up temporarily with more capacity during the holidays if you host with us and have a dedicated plan. If you’re on a shared hosting plan and think you might need more capacity, it may be time to consider an upgrade to dedicated to make sure you’re in good shape for the season.
  • Offer gift certificates. This could be a great thing to add to your store in time for the holiday rush.

This year at Command C we’re introducing something new for all clients over the holidays. We’ll be offering emergency support at peak times to everyone, regardless of which support plan you have. If you’re a current client please check in so we can send you details on how to access emergency support if needed. It will be available to you from October 1 – December 25, even if your plan doesn’t usually cover emergency support.

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