‘Tis the season to be jolly…unless you’re a webmaster. The days leading up to the Christmas Holidays – Cyber Monday in particular – are some of the most important in the year for digital storefronts, whose traffic is liable to shoot through the roof as more and more users do all their shopping online. By that same vein, the holidays themselves have been known to cause a 30-40% drop in web traffic, as people are more interested in spending quality time with family than doing any actual shopping.
It’s vital that you do everything you can to prepare for the holiday spike – and the subsequent slump. Otherwise, you’re going to be left in the lurch while your competitors enjoy a marked increase in revenue – more than enough to get them through the holiday season. Today, we’re going to go over just a few of the steps you need to take in order to get yourself ready for the shopping stampede – and the dearth of visitors that’s likely to follow.
Figure Out How Much Traffic You’re Likely To Have
First thing’s first, you need to evaluate just how much your traffic is going to spike, and adjust accordingly. Your traffic reports from Google(or whatever other analytics tool you’re using) will prove invaluable in this, as will any traffic data you can gather from your host. Measuring that information against your current traffic should give you a good idea of how much power your site’s going to need in order to stay operational.
Of course, none of that advice helps you if your business is relatively new – or you’re lacking data from the previous year. If you don’t have any information, then simply pay attention to the competition and track down traffic reports from as many different sites as you can. Although this isn’t necessarily the best solution, it’s better than simply going in blind and hoping you can handle the demands.
Either way, you should consider talking to your host to see if you can set your website up so that your resources scale based on demand.
Make Sure Your Site Is Completely User-Friendly
Accounting for traffic demands is only the tip of the iceberg – you also need to do everything you can to make your site easy to navigate.
There are a few steps involved in this, the first of which is ensuring it’s navigable on mobile devices. More and more people are doing their browsing and shopping on smartphones and tablets these days – meaning that there’s no longer any excuse for ignoring mobile in the design of your website. To do so is to alienate a large percentage of your potential consumers, driving them straight into the arms of your competition.
You’re also going to want to test out your purchasing process to make sure that it’s as streamlined as possible. Make sure you aren’t using any distracting or irritating interface elements, and that everything loads in as quickly as possible. What’s more, make your shopping cart easy to use – a good cart should allow a customer to manage every single aspect of their transaction within, from reviews to order status to shipping and handling.
Test Out Your Security
Since you’re operating a digital storefront, you’re dealing with the financial information of potentially hundreds (or even thousands) of shoppers. You do not want to deal with the fallout that’ll occur if any of that information falls into the hands of criminals. Stress-test your security well before the holiday season rolls around, and patch out any security holes you happen to find immediately.
Get Some Sales Ready
Perhaps one of the best ways to draw visitors to your site during the holiday shopping season is by offering people a wide range of significant discounts. Look at the products you’re selling, and consider which items are most – and least – popular. Adjust the prices accordingly, and be sure to make it absolutely clear what’s on sale. While you don’t necessarily want to be selling everything at a loss, there’s nothing wrong with offering a deep discount on one or two items if it causes people to purchase more in the future.
Start Marketing Now
Last, but certainly not least, you need to start making a concerted marketing push right away. Once the holiday rush starts, it’ll become increasingly difficult to get your site noticed amidst all the noise. If you pull in a crop of loyal customers now, you’ll be far likelier to turn a profit later.
In other words, hop to it. Start advertising your site on social media, get in touch with journalists who are willing to put together a few pieces about your brand, and interact with followers and potential prospects. Although this is something you should be doing anyway, the holidays are the perfect time to kick things into overdrive.
The holiday months are some of the most important of the year for online merchants. It’s vital that you start preparing as soon as possible. After all, if you don’t take the necessary steps to get yourself ready, you might end up losing more than just a few sales.