Blog > How to Prepare Your Website For Christmas
Posted By Create
Christmas is always the most profitable time of year for Create customers and those with an online business. If you want to make this the best year yet then you need to start thinking about your Christmas activity now.
When do people start Christmas shopping?
It’s earlier than you think, especially online. Last year interest in Christmas shopping began in September and October in the UK and Ireland - a trend seen all over the world.
Make sure you capture those early shoppers as well as the ones who leave gift-buying to the last minute - start to plan for your sales to increase as the Autumn sets in.
How to get started
Ensure you know which particular holiday you want to focus on. Christmas is the obvious one, but don’t forget there’s also:
- Black Friday - 23rd of November
- Cyber Monday - 26th of November
- Hanukkah - Sunday 2nd December - Monday 10th December
- Boxing Day - 26th of December
Plan what your Christmas promotion will be
Lots of online retailers do pre-Christmas sales to entice customers to buy gifts for friends and family (for example, 15% off certain stock), and then bigger sales after Christmas to clear their product inventory of gifts that weren’t bought. Decide if you want to have more stock in the run up to Christmas, and how you will discount it before and after the big day. Look at what competitors have done in previous years to give you a steer on expected prices and discounts.
Plan when your Christmas promotion will begin and end
Christmas shopping may pick up considerably in December - especially for those too busy to go shopping on the high street! - but savvy shoppers purchase Christmas gifts in the month before. Plan to get more customers to sign up to your mailing list in before so you can market them early bird discounts in the Autumn to reward those who have planned ahead, as well as those who have left it to the last minute or are Boxing Day shoppers.
Create a calendar of work
We recommend starting backwards from the date that your promotion starts, and giving yourself extra days to make sure you can fit all your activities in.
You’ll need to consider:
- The logistics of your Christmas promotion: extra stock, pricing, payment options, postage options, return policy, delivery dates, etc
- When you will update your website with graphics, additional products, sales and new pricing
- What your marketing will look like: consider graphics, wording and what will interest your customers more (promotions before Christmas or sales afterwards?
- How you’ll do your marketing: which channels will you run your promotions on? Email? Social media? Paid adverts
- Which dates your marketing will run (and if it will happen on each marketing channel at the same time or at different times)
The logistics of your Christmas promotion
1 . Extra stock
There’s nothing worse for a potential customer to want to buy something from you … only for you to be out of stock! To gain an understanding of how much stock you should bring in for Christmas, we recommend the following:
* Look at which products brought in the most sales and from where (especially useful if you have a Facebook Shop or integration with eBay from your Create shop)
* Understand which were the most popular, which got the most views on your website, and which brought in the most revenue
* Focus your efforts on what has been popular for the rest of the year, and also include specific items that you think would work well as gifts - ones that match or are lower than your average price point and are good value for your customers.
* Ensure that if you are going to feature a specific product on your marketing that you have more of these in your inventory: customers who see the product on the advert and click through to your website will have been interested in buying this item (or others similar to it) specifically.
2. Plan additional payment options
Create has its own payment gateway powered by Worldpay, which means your customers can use credit or debit cards to pay for items in your online shop. You can integrate your shop to have up to three payment gateways, so consider offering others, such as Paypal, Stripe or Worldpay if you don’t already.
3. Plan new pricing for sales and promotions
Most customers expect a bargain around Christmas, as either a promotion in the run up to the big day itself or a Boxing Day sale. Consider amending your pricing slightly at this time to increase sales.
4. Plan your return policy
Lots of the big retailers extend their return and exchange policies over Christmas - consider if this is appropriate for your business, and if it is, make sure you advertise that this is something you’ll be doing on your website and in your marketing. Amending a return policy may have an impact upon your established processes, so do make sure this is thought out properly before you start it.
5. Consider gift wrapping options
Sometimes knowing a gift is coming beautifully wrapped is a selling point against a competitor.
6. Last posting dates for Christmas
Know when the last posting dates are to ensure your customers get their products on time. We’ve put together this useful post with official information from Royal Mail.
Update your website
Make sure you set up your site ready for Christmas promotions before you start your marketing! It sounds obvious, but it can often be overlooked:
* Ensure your website and product pages are SEO friendly. Create does this for you already, but give your content a helping hand by making sure product titles and descriptions are as snappy and to-the-point as possible, including keywords relevant to what you’re selling.
* Check your product pages look as good as they can do. Include extra product images to ensure customers can see the product from every angle or in use, add more descriptions, include customer testimonials, and also upsell by featuring related items you think customers might like.
* Make sure you have enough bandwidth - if you’re aiming to attract thousands of new customers, make sure your site can take it!
* Introduce a ‘Christmas Gift’ category, or ‘Christmas Gifts for Children’ category to make it easier for customers to find products they may wish to purchase.
* Make sure your website is mobile friendly! More and more shoppers are purchasing from their phones, so ensure your Create theme is responsive (will work on any size device) so you don’t miss out on mobile sales.
* Utilize Create’s Abandon Basket tool. Get information on products that customers added to baskets but didn’t purchase to inform your merchandise planning and make use of abandoned basket emails to get in touch with customers and encourage them to finish shopping with you.
* Give your website a festive look and feel - add some mistletoe to your logo or Christmas trees to your banner.
* Create one main Christmas page with all your promotional information and offers - make it easy for your customers to be aware of the great value they’ll experience if they shop with you
* Don’t assume everyone is Christmas shopping - make sure you have a Christmas-free zone for customers who don’t partake.
* Don’t forget some shoppers browse websites on Christmas Day - you will potentially get orders then, too, so ensure you have a plan in place for this day.
* Have a contingency messaging plan in place in case you run out of stock - just knowing it’s prepared can save a lot of panic at the time.
Plan your marketing
To make the most of your marketing, plan well in advance. You’ll need to consider:
* How much money you want to spend, if any. If you have a budget for digital marketing, plan out CPC (cost per click) or CPA (cost per acquisition). How much are you willing to spend to get a visitor to your website, and how much are you willing to spend to make a sale? This cost needs to be under your average product price in order for you to make a profit
* What the focus of your marketing is: is it a promotion in the run up to Christmas? A Boxing Day sale? 15% off all products? Free shipping?
Where you are going to run your marketing? Consider:
* Blog posts. Create new posts for each promotion and write them with search engine optimisation in mind. Ensure your posts have graphics and are snappy and to the point. Measure if these are effective by seeing if you get additional traffic to your online shop from each post (you can do this by using Google Analytics or creating shortcut URLs with Bit.ly that measure clicks)
* Customer emails: make sure your existing customers know about your promotions. These should include all the key points about your promotions, any graphics that you think you should include, and should be sent to everyone who has signed up to your mailing list. Make sure you include a link back to your online store! To measure if these are effective measure open rates, click through rates and clicks on individual links.
* Google Adwords: if your budget is quite small you may not want to consider this as a marketing option (costs per bid increase over the holiday season with online retailers), but if you do decide to run Google Adwords, make sure you keep your message to the point: make your Christmas offer clear (“Free Postage”), include information about your shops or products, and make sure your call-to-action is clear to ensure you get clicks and - hopefully! - customers.
* Facebook Adverts: Facebook ads are easy to set up when you know how, and you can target potential new customers based on age, location, interests and more. For great Facebook ads, make sure you include enticing product images, a clear call-to-action to get people to click through to your website, and snappy words about your promotion.
* Other social media channels: you can run paid adverts on other channels such as Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, but don’t forget that some organic (not paid for) posts on Twitter, for example, can be of interest to potential new customers. Experiment with wording, call to actions and graphics to make sure you’re running the best posts or adverts possible.
And finally, make sure you enjoy Christmas despite how busy you get. Running an online business isn’t always easy - reward yourself as much as you reward your customers. You’ve earned it.