11 Fixes to Make to Your Ecommerce Store before the Holidays

The holiday season is fast approaching. It seems to come earlier and earlier each year. Many stores are promoting their holiday offers weeks before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Even though ecommerce companies are ready with their offers and marketing campaigns, they often leave their website experience behind.

Choose to stand out from your competition. Have your ecommerce store ready this holiday season. Keep in mind that holiday visitors expect a different experience. They aren’t your normal customers. They often come with a gifting mindset and maybe less loyal to your company.

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Now for the 11 fixes you should make to your ecommerce store to be ready for the holidays.

#1: Reduce friction in your checkout

More than 70% of visitors abandoned at checkout, according to the Baymard Institute.

Visitors say there are many reasons for leaving. In A/B testing, we see that they really are sensitive to these parts of the experience.

Reasons include:

  • Costs are too high (like shipping, taxes, and other fees)
  • The store requires an account
  • The product delivery was too slow
  • The checkout process was too long or complicated
  • Not trusting the site with credit card information

A lot of these issues can be resolved through design changes before the holidays. You can audit your checkout and remove any unnecessary steps. You could test the impact of delaying the account creation process until after the purchase. You may also want to consider whether you can be transparent about other pricing “extras” sooner, so visitors aren’t surprised by these costs.

#2: Support decisions around gifting

Holiday visitors are often buying Christmas gifts or other seasonal gifts for other people. They may have a general gift in mind (“something for her workouts”) and may not know what the best products would be for this person.

Gift Guides are a great place to start. You can guide visitors to specific product categories or items through a single landing page. Consider testing how many products should be included on the page and whether gift-givers want to find products by recipient characteristics, product categories, and/or price.

Gift Guides

Make sure that visitors can easily find the gift guide. They may need a nudge on your homepage, and the navigation can be another great place to give any site visitor the opportunity to find your curated page.

#3: Plan for a last-ship date for gift cards

A last-ship date is the latest date someone can order a gift from your business and receive it in time for Christmas. Amazon and other sites have made it easy for people who procrastinate in their gift-giving. Make sure you have an offer - such as a gift card - that can reach the gift giver just before or during the holiday.

Consider promoting these products more prominently after the last-ship date so that visitors aren’t discouraged that they’ve missed the shipping deadline. You can also look into apps for gifting items via email, so visitors can still pick out a specific item and send a notification via email.

Holiday-themed gift card designs can also encourage the purchase of a gift card as a gift.

#4: Gifts for the Givers too

Many holiday visitors are new to your business. They may have gotten a recommendation for your business from the recipient.

Giving a free gift to the giver can be a great way to win new customers. You can give them a sample of your product so they’ll be more likely to purchase it for themselves in the future.

#5: Showcase your best sellers

Visitors get fatigued with too many options - and they love social proof. Consider adding a Best Sellers category on your website so that gift-givers can focus on a subset of tried and true products. You should consider testing different ways of promoting the Best Sellers category. Some common strategies for this could be including a prominent link in the navigation bar or tagging items as Bestsellers. Make sure to A/B test these options so that you can find the right UX (user experience) for your target audience.

Amazon's best sellers screen shot

#6: Provide holiday wrapping and cards

Gift wrap and cards are a great way to save time for your customers. You’ll save them time buying wrapping paper, packing presents and writing greetings. You also make it easier for them to order gifts to be sent directly to the recipient.

You can also improve the presentation of your items by presenting a personalized gifted experience. This will make it more appealing to purchase from your company compared to a competitor who just ships with a small paper gift note.

Offering gift notes and wrapping for free is a good way to stand out from competitors. You could also add a small fee for this service and increase your average order value (AOV) to keep your margin the same.

#7: Bundles or Gift baskets

You can bundle items that people often buy together and offer a discount on the bundle. You can increase your average order value (AOV) by providing these seasonal upsells and making it easy to give multiple items.

You may also consider dressing up the bundle in a festive holiday gift box or basket. This can make it more appealing to purchase as a gift, as it will look great under the tree or on a holiday table.

#8: Offer Free Shipping (if you can)

In A/B tests, we see visitors respond very well to the offer of free shipping. The growth in conversion rates almost always offset the added cost for the business. Customers during the holidays maybe even more interested in businesses that offer free shipping. Customers during this period usually have to make decisions quickly and are more time-constrained compared to normal visitors, so free shipping could be the very turning point for you to get them to make their mind.

#9: Holiday Countdown Calendars

Another idea for bundling products is to create a product that counts down the days to the holiday. These can be bundled products where the recipient gets to open one per day. These are often referred to as Holiday Countdown or Advent Calendars. Your products will be featured day after day in anticipation of and excitement of the holiday season.

Count down to Christmas image

#10: Give shipping estimates

Tell visitors when products will arrive. Include this information wherever you can - whether on the product page, cart, or throughout checkout. Remember, holiday gifting is all about timing. Visitors will be more confident that the gift they have picked out will get to the recipient in time for the holidays - and more likely to order from your business.

#11: Optimize all year round

Optimize your website throughout the year to make sure the experience is smooth and high converting when the traffic peak happens around the holidays. We understand that the holiday period accounts for a lot of your sales; however, getting new prospects during the low season is just as important. Stop losing your customers because of confusing and difficult-to-use websites.

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