The next few weeks are a hectic period for Shopify stores. The busy holiday season is one where any online store experiences a rush of extra customers. That’s a good thing, of course, but you need to be prepared. This is not a time to sit back and wait, but one where preparation for the increase in demand needs to be carried out.
What is your expectation of the holiday season? How many extra customers are you expecting? Can your suppliers meet the additional demand? These questions are among many that you need to be considering if you have a Shopify store.
In this article, we will be looking at how to plan for the holiday shopping season, how to optimize your online store for additional website traffic, and what tricks you can use to attract holiday sales?
The first step is to sit back and plan, and that means a bit of research is needed. Let’s begin by looking at what you need to think about before you start setting your Shopify store up for the holiday season.
Table of Contents
Research and Plan Ahead
When we talk of the holiday season, we are mainly referring to Christmas and New Year. However, it’s correct to suggest that in fact, the season begins with the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Here’s a statistic you might want to think about: the six weeks from Black Friday to New Year make up 30% of an average eCommerce store’s annual income.
Clearly, you cannot be unprepared for this holiday season. Following are a few points you need to think about when researching your potential festive season marketing campaigns.
What is Your Shopify Flagship Product?
Identifying your flagship product is key to where your marketing for the holiday season should begin. The flagship product is the one that you set your store around. Think of it as the reason you started your business. Not every flagship product is the best seller – we’ll look at that in a moment – but it is usually at the core of the brand.
Your flagship product will therefore be a useful tool for your marketing. But is it your best seller? Often a Shopify store is created around a product or set of products and then develops further. While your flagship remains the same, other products may eclipse it in terms of sales.
Which Products Sell Best in Your Shopify Store?
By using your past sales history and your Google Analytics reports, you can analyze the sales across a year at your Shopify store and see what are the best sellers. These are the products that you need to concentrate on to increase sales during the holiday season. If you have a seasonal product, then you need to prioritize that for increased sales.
Different markets have fluctuating sales patterns across the year, so you need a detailed analysis of what sells in the holiday season. This way, you can prepare an accurate list of the products that you should use to entice new customers to your store. But here’s the big question: how many extra sales are you going to be dealing with?
Anticipate Increased Sales
If you have already been through the holiday season with your online store you have a head start. You can see from the orders from last year how much extra stock you need to invest in. If you don’t have that data, then remember that figure we gave you: from Black Friday/Cyber Monday through New Year online retailers will take on average 30% of its annual sales.
This is quite a complex calculation so let’s have a look at it using an example. An ordinary month will account for 8.33% of your sales. Let’s say a standard month you sell 1000 items. Without the holiday excess, you can expect to sell 12,000 items a year. But with the holiday excess, you have to allow for increased sales over the year-ending six weeks totaling 30% of your annual sales. But that’s not 30% of 12,000 – it’s a greater figure.
If you break it down weekly, those six weeks will see your sales increase from around 2% of your annual sales to 5%. You will be selling an expected two and half times the stock you normally sell. As a rule of thumb, you should be looking at ordering three times the amount you usually order for a successful holiday season sale.
One final word on this – we’re not taking into account seasonal products here, so if you are selling something specific to Christmas, for example, you need to include additional amounts to cover those products. How can you be certain your suppliers can meet the extra demand?
Liaise with Your Suppliers
Rest assured that suppliers will be anticipating the holiday excess too, but for some, it may be difficult to meet the increased demand. For example, if your Shopify store sells handmade items you cannot reasonably expect a supplier to up production to a great degree. What you can do is liaise with them in advance and explain which items you are going to be promoting for your holiday season sale. This will allow them to prioritize their production. Be aware that they will also have pressure from other clients.
One thing you can do is to start asking your existing customers what they want to see in the Christmas and New Year sales. This way, you will get a good picture of where you need to obtain additional stock. Always have a catch-up with your suppliers before you commit to a marketing campaign.
Be Ready for the Rush!
Before we move on and talk about the preparation you need to do, here’s a thought: if you haven’t experienced a holiday rush before this year perhaps you might want to bring a couple of extra hands-on boards to help with customer service. Your customers want service that remains of the quality they are used to, and it’s no excuse to let that fall because you are understaffed or too busy. Make sure you are fully prepared to keep your customer satisfaction on a high level.
Next, we will be looking at some of the things you can do to ensure your Shopify store is ready for the rush.
Prepare Your Shopify Store for the Festive Season
Now that you’ve done your homework, you should have a good idea of what happens next. In this section, we’re going to be talking about some actions you can take to ensure your Shopify store looks great and is ready for the holiday season boom, so let’s not waste any more time!
Create a Holiday Theme for Your Shopify Store
Our first suggestion is obvious, but still important if you are to boost your sales. A holiday theme for your store means that customers visiting now will be reminded immediately of the upcoming sale season. It’s easy to do and also gives your store a reboot in terms of how it appears. You can use Christmas themes that are easy to get hold of and give the entire Shopify store a bit of festive cheer!
Using Announcement Bars
You need to keep your site visitors aware of the upcoming sale, and one way to do this is to use announcement bars. These can be automated to pop up and tell holiday shoppers about the sale and the items that you are discounting – as well advertising flash sales and time-limited offers which we will talk about later.
Personalized Festive Touch
In any article regarding online marketing and online businesses, you will always find something about personalization. Not only do we recommend you add a personal touch to your digital communications, but that you take things a step further. If you were a customer at a Shopify store and they offered gift wrapping for no extra cost, you would appreciate them going that extra step. If you can’t do it at no extra cost for every individual purchase, automate pop-up advertising ‘Spend X and Get Free Gift Wrapping.’
Offers such as this bring a little extra to the service. Another way of adding a personal touch is to send with each delivery a hand-written message of thanks and wishing the customer a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – something that will take you a little time but that will be remembered by your customers. Our next point is another obvious one, but that often gets overlooked.
Advertise Your Festive Discounts
You should begin to tell people about your upcoming festive discounts and offers long before the holiday season begins. If you have subscribers to a regular newsletter, discount codes can be included there. You should also populate your social media pages with adverts, use any other advertising channels you are familiar with, and make it the subject of a blog entry.
The main items in the sale need to be advertised on your Shopify store so that visitors can be made aware of what to expect. Use email marketing to get messages out across the board. This is one area that needs a lot of comprehensive attention if you are to ensure your store’s holiday season’s specials are well promoted.
Create Gift Bundles
Upselling is always a great idea, and there is no better time to indulge than during the holiday season. A popular method is to create gift bundles by putting together, for example, three related beauty products at a discount over the total. Consumers love saving money, and by encouraging them to opt for gift bundles you are giving them that satisfaction while also making more money and increasing average order value.
Another idea on this theme involves pop-ups of the ‘We see you bought this; you might like…’ type. These are easily automated so that when a consumer puts a product in the cart others that may partner it are offered. You could also add a discount code if they add the new product or that most attractive of offers – free shipping. We will talk more about this sort of promotion later on.
Optimizing Product Pages
We are sure you will have your Shopify store optimized for landing and home pages, but what about product pages? For example, like most Shopify small businesses you will more than likely use the manufacturer’s product descriptions as it is easier and saves time. Getting back to personalization, we suggest that optimizing your descriptions for search results is best done by writing your own or hiring a writer to provide quality copy.
We should also mention images here: ensure that your product images are professional and clear and add a zoom function that does not distort the image when the user wants a closer look. Poor images will certainly put a customer off.
Many retailers use an email marketing campaign that automatically targets visitors who have abandoned a cart. Others do it by SMS marketing and some on the store itself with pop-ups and other messages. The basic premise is to offer an incentive to the customer to return and complete the transaction. Whether this is a discount, a promise of a future discount or free shipping is for you to decide, but you must have something in place to tackle cart abandonment. If you can recover just a small percentage, it is worth the effort.
Speed and Ease of Use
This point is among the most important of all. The speed at which your website and pages load need to be as fast as is possible. Here is a statistic that you need to take in regards speed of loading:
32% of consumers will likely shop elsewhere if your website takes 3 seconds or more to load. If it takes 5 seconds you will lose, according to research, some 90% of your visitors.
Basically, you need a Shopify store that will be up to speed. What you must do right now is check that yours will be able to cope with the leap in visitors over the holiday period or you may end up losing a lot of potential customers.
Furthermore, a store that is easy to navigate and use is essential. Be aware that the mobile device is now the most popular method of eCommerce transactions with 79% of consumers partaking in a survey saying they make purchases online using a mobile regularly. You simply must have your eCommerce website fully optimized for hand-held devices. Always keep your eye on your Google Analytics to We will talk more about other areas of your store design later, and we have one more point to make in this section that is related to this one.
Effective In-Store Search Feature
It may seem that the present-day consumer wants a lot from you, and they do, but the simple fact is the technology we have available allows eCommerce stores to provide an enjoyable and convenient customer journey. Your customer wants to go straight to the product they are interested in. If you ensure that there is a simple to use the search function on your Shopify store you will satisfy one important expectation.
We’ve covered quite a few factors that may also apply in the next section, in which we look at ways in which you can promote your Shopify store holiday sale now that you have fully prepared your store for the upcoming rush.
Promote Your Shopify Christmas Sale
So, promoting your holiday specials – what can you do? We’ll keep the following brief as some are closely related to things we have already talked about, but they are important.
Optimize Social Media Pages
We’ve already discussed optimizing your store and its various pages, and you should also do the same for all of your social media pages. From now on they should be all about your upcoming holiday season offers. Tell them about the products, the deals, and any special information about shipping and other areas of the promotion. Keep this refreshed with new content weekly. Building up to a big announcement by teasing with smaller ones is a good way of creating anticipation.
Re-Target Using Your Customer Data
Every Shopify store has customers who perhaps bought one or a few items and then disappeared. These are the people you need to be re-targeting in the run-up to the holiday period. A simple email or message along the lines of ‘We haven’t seen you for a while, look what’s coming at Christmas’ will remind them of your brand and may inspire them to check you out once more. The returns on this are low percentage-wise, but at a time of year when everyone spends more every little count.
Provide Holiday Gift Guides
This is the time of year when people are searching for gift ideas for loved ones, colleagues and friends, and family. You can tap into that by creating a gift guide for your Shopify store. These could be segregated to be aimed at men or women, for example, promoting products as ‘gifts for him’ and ‘for her’. Or they may be age-related.
Pop-ups are a successful method of grabbing the consumer while they are browsing your store. That they are already there shows interest at least, and aShare your gift guides on all of your social media platforms, put them on your blog, and in your newsletters. Ensure the products that are most relevant and popular get top billing. you can use automated pop-ups to place your BFCM upcoming deals in front of them while they are already with you. A simple yet direct message – ‘Don’t Miss Our Black Friday Specials’ or similar – will encourage them to make a note to check your store out on the event.
We’re nearing the end of the article now and our final section is about sales channels and techniques that you can use in addition to improving buying process.
Sales Tactics for the Holiday Season
If you run a Shopify store you will be aware of methods of pushing your products, so here are a few tricks you can use to entice your visitors to spend more over the holiday period.
Offer Attractive Discounts
By attractive we mean discounts that the customer will genuinely appreciate. 10% off is a nice offer, but it doesn’t seem that great. Offering 25% a top-selling product when, for example, they buy it with another related one is a much more attractive deal. You can also use this method to move on slow-selling products which can be part of the deal. Make sure your discount offers are displayed on all pages clearly and are instantly noticeable.
Flash Sales Gain Attention
Flash sales are an excellent method of grabbing the consumer’s attention. You can use this sales tactic by posting on your social media pages offers such as ‘50% off for one day only’ and similar. The customer loves to get something cheap and will certainly have a look at your store. Use this method a few times over the holiday period especially when you see sales dropping off.
Use Pop-Ups to Offer Time-Limited Specials
Similar to the above is the tactic of targeting visitors who are already in your store with pop-ups offering a discount, two for one, or free shipping or other incentives if they buy within – for example – the next hour. This is a proven tactic that can be used in any market and can be automated to trigger when a consumer is spending a lot of time on a page without purchasing.
Buy One, Get One Free!
The classic buy one, get one free deal is an ideal offer either standing alone or when used with the above limited-time special offer. This method is another way of upselling products that perhaps don’t sell as well as your most popular items.
Offer Free Shipping Deals
We cannot stress how important a free shipping offer is for the modern consumer. 65% of consumers say they check for free shipping thresholds before they put items in the cart. For this reason, it is vital that your shipping details and costs are not hidden at the checkout. You need to be upfront and clear. The most common reason for cart abandonment – which we will cover in a moment – is that of extra costs including shipping and taxes being added unannounced at checkout. 60% of consumers will not complete a transaction where added costs are involved.
Pay Attention to Cart Abandonment
We have chosen to finish with the very common problem of cart abandonment which we have touched on above. During your holiday special at your Shopify store, you will experience customers abandoning carts to a great degree. Across all markets, the average rate is between 70% and 80%.
Bear in mind, however, that according to recent research some 54% of those who abandon a cart for whatever reason are likely to go back to it and complete the purchase if offered the goods at a discount later. For this reason, you need to pay full attention to abandoned carts during the holiday period and ensure you retarget those consumers quickly.
There are smart ways to simplify the process in your Shopify store by using specialized Shopify apps and fueling your store with a powerful asset that removes the hassle of online shopping.
We hope this article has helped you get an idea of how to prepare your Shopify store for the busiest and potentially most lucrative few weeks of the eCommerce market. Good luck, and may you enjoy your Christmas and New Year.