Last Minute Holiday Tips for eCommerce Sites

Successful online retailers typically plan for their holiday season all throughout the year, but there are a few things we’d like to suggest for those of you who may have, ahem, waited until the last minute. We understand how overwhelming preparing for the spikes in traffic, increased sales and making the most of the opportunity can be, and we put together a few tips to help.

November and December are clearly the busiest spending months of the year in the US. We lifted this chart from our buddies over at Shopify, who got it from Comscore. It is super helpful and we couldn’t resist sharing it with you.


So, what are the most important things you can do as online retailer to prepare for these traffic and sales spikes?

1.) Competitive shipping
Competitive shipping not only speaks to low cost or even free shipping options, but also to how close to core dates you can make delivery happen. This is a great thing to plan for early on in the year, but if you have waited until November, don’t hesitate to get creative. Are most of your sales local? If so, consider offering a delivery service, maybe only during the week or so leading up to big holidays, to maximize the potential sales. Spending a few extra bucks on a courier service is also a nice option. I’d pay extra to make sure I got my gifts on time. What else can you come up with to make your shipping options better than the rest?

2.) Keep top grossing categories at the forefront
To take advantage of the dollars looking to be spent at this time of year, take a look back at your top grossing categories over the past twelve months. Make sure these categories are front and center on your website, encouraging users to visit them whatever way you can. Consider sending out a marketing campaign highlighting these product categories and including them in your gift guide (see below).

3.) Create a gift guide
Gift guides are a great way to not only remind your customers that you exist, but also to help encourage them to buy products you want them to buy. Gently guiding customers to top grossing or most profitable products by way of a gift guide is another way to increase the chances of those cash dollars are being spent where you want them to be. You could also add a promo code at the end of your gift guide to further incentivize sales.

4.) Make sure you have an engagement plan in place
Just what do we mean by an engagement plan? We mean that to be a successful online retailer, you need to nurture your site visitors in whatever ways you can to not only buy now, but to keep coming back time and time again. There’s no exact formula to this, in fact, we suggest getting as creative as possible here. But having a strategy in place is imperative. Are your cart abandonment emails setup to automatically send? What about a win back campaign? A one time discount code to new customers? Whatever it is, be mindful and consistent about following through with this. We have seen statics along the lines of successful engagement plans increasing conversions by some 300%.

5.) Is your hosting sufficient? 
One of the very most frustrating experiences is having a ton of traffic coming to your site, and being on a hosting package or server that can’t support it. The result: long load times and blackouts. This pretty much the worst thing you can experience as an online retailer. There are different tools for stress testing your site if you’re not on a hosted solution. Some options out there include and for stress testing, or, just talk to your hosting provider about your concerns and see what sort of protocols they suggest. If you are on a hosted solution, such as Shopify and you’re expecting a ton of traffic, you might want to consider upgrading to Shopify Plus. Avoiding a few slow hours on Black Friday could make the investment well worth it.

6.) What’s your emergency plan? 
For clients who are on retainer with us, we offer access to our proprietary emergency support system for logging mission critical issues during non-business hours. Do you have something like this setup in case your site goes down or has a critical issue during peak times? This is necessary thing to consider in advance of an expected rush.

Bonus: Download our eBook: Top Reasons for Cart Abandonment here and learn more about how to maximize conversions.

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