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A 14-Point eCommerce Checklist to Get Ready for the Holiday Season

by Jonathan Kennedy November 30, 2017

Can you hear the jingle bells already?

With the Holiday season just around the corner, it’s no surprise.

For eCommerce stores, this can be the most profitable time of the year. Not only is there a tremendous increase in website visitors, but those visitors are eager to buy. And this trend won’t disappear until Christmas.

This increase in traffic can cause eCommerce site owners and digital marketers a lot of stress — but don’t worry, you’re not too late to take advantage of this boost in potential customers.

This 14-point checklist will help save you from the year-end stress and allow you to prepare for the Holiday season just in time.

Gear up your website
1. Analyze last year’s statistics

Analyzing last year’s statistics and learning from them is the first step. Decode the reasons behind the success or failure of your previous campaigns in order to create better campaigns this year that capitalize on your success and minimize mistakes.

Here are some questions you should ask: What were your most successful campaigns? What was your most popular product? Which days had the best traffic? Which traffic source was the most popular, and which was the most profitable?

2. Prepare your site for the increased traffic

You don’t want your website to crash because of the increased traffic, especially on Black Friday or Cyber Monday when many visits happen at the same time. If you haven’t experienced traffic spikes before, check with your website host directly and make sure your site can handle increased traffic.

3. Mobile first

Having a mobile-first approach is even more important during the holiday season. More people browse online stores from their phones or tablets than ever before. Not only does your website have to look good on mobile, but it also has to be user-friendly. Easy browsing, quick load times, and buying options are a must-have.

4. Add a Holiday feel to your website design

Adding a few small changes in order to tailor your website for the Holiday Season can help encourage visitors to shop for gifts. For example, you can add a countdown timer to the header. You can also change the banners in your headers to promote your Black Friday or Christmas sales. If you have more resources, you might want to dress your whole website in a Holiday theme just like Macy’s did in the example below.

5. Make sure your navigation is clear

Confusing navigation is one of the main reasons people leave a website. You need to make sure you’re not scaring away your visitors, especially during the holiday season when people are often constrained by time. A well-configured search option is a great way to make navigation easier. Take a look at how Printerland uses intelligent autocomplete search on their site in this example:

6. Boost your category pages

Creating Holiday-focused category pages helps visitors find your discounts, deals, and gift packages. Argos has an awesome “Gifts” category with dozens of options. This kind of approach can also improve user experience since it suggests ideas for what to buy your loved ones.

Improve your marketing
7. Increase social media presence

Social media should definitely be part of your Holiday marketing plan. Publish as many Holiday-focused posts as you want and try to emphasize visual elements in your content. Sharing your offers on social channels can increase their visibility. You can even add a special coupon code for your followers, just like in the example below.

8. Use Facebook Messenger, “the new email marketing”

Have you heard that Facebook Messenger is the new email marketing? This is the newest way to connect with your customers and prospects. If you don’t use it already, this season is the perfect time to give it a shot. Using Messenger sequences, you can achieve open rates of up to 90%.

You can use Facebook Messenger the same way you would use your email software to communicate your offers for events like Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Always include deadlines in promotional messages to increase urgency. You can also send transactional emails via Messenger.

Here’s a great way for Shopify store owners to encourage website visitors to subscribe to your Messenger list.

9.  Use onsite retargeting

The holiday season is a great time to take advantage of increased traffic and to build your email list. Email marketing is still very important — especially when it comes to converting website visitors into buyers.

Onsite retargeting is a great way to build a healthy email list. Using well-timed popups combined with discounts or other incentives, you can easily get your visitor’s contact information.

Improve your customer service
10. Integrate live chat

Having live chat on your store improves the user experience by giving visitors a quick response to their questions. Check out the example below from BOOM By Cindy Joseph. The bottom right corner is a common placement for chat buttons.

11. Ensure your customers can reach you

During the Holiday season, visitors will reach out to you to ask about products or delivery time. If you don’t have a live chat option, then you need to make sure your customer support team is always available. It’s worth highlighting your customer service’s contact information just like BOOM! did in the example above.

12. Highlight shipping & return conditions

As mentioned, delivery time is an important concern during the Holidays, especially when the clock is counting down and it’s just a few days before Christmas. Make sure your shipping estimates and return policy are highlighted on your website. If there’s an option for local pickup or if the product is available in stores, include this information on your website as well.

We’ve all received a gift that wasn’t the right size or color. Returns are frequent during the Holiday season so make sure customers can return products easily. Adding detailed information about your return policy increases the trust and confidence of your visitors.

Reebok has a specific help section covering returns & refunds, answering every question visitors might have.

13. Offer free shipping

Many online shoppers abandon their cart without finishing their purchase due to high shipping costs. Offering free shipping will help to encourage more purchases. According to David Bell, a marketing professor at Wharton, a free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10. It’s an easy benefit to provide to your customers and certainly worthwhile to consider when structuring your discounts.

You can set up a nanobar that promotes free shipping just like Zooji did in the example below.

14. Don’t forget about your store during Christmas

There’s no time to relax for an online store, not even on the 25th of December. You need to make sure that you fresh content and offers on Christmas Day, just as you would any other day of the year. And keep the deals going until New Year’s!


Though it’s already mid-November, you still have time to prepare your online store for the Holiday season. These 14 points I’ve shared with you are the keys to boosting your sales during the Holidays. Start implementing them today and make changes as necessary to fine tune your results and end the year on a positive note

About the author

Csaba Zajdo is an eCommerce specialist. He’s the founder of OptiMonk and several other projects specializing in conversion. OptiMonk is an award-winning onsite retargeting platform that helps small and medium-sized businesses leverage the power of onsite retargeting. If it has to do with conversion optimization and eCommerce, Csaba is interested. He’s always looking for the best and brightest, and he’s constantly on the lookout for game-changing solutions. Csaba has been involved with web marketing, including search, lead generation, e-commerce, CRO, PPC, and analytics, for over 10 years. He is also a frequent presenter at seminars and conferences.

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