5 Last-Minute Holiday Preparations for Ecommerce Merchants

You made it through Black Friday and Cyber Monday — congratulations! Now we’re just looking at one more push through January 1 before the holiday hecticness eases up. And if you think clearing one hurdle means you can sit on your hands and wait for the December 25 storm to hit, think again. There are plenty of last-minute tweaks you can make to your business and website to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for the holidays. Here are five of them:

Assess Your Black Friday/Cyber Monday Performance

It may be tempting to lump everything into a category called “holiday results” and wait to examine it until after January 1, but if you ran any Black Friday promotions or campaigns this year, taking stock of their results now is an important way to anticipate any last-minute changes you’ll need to make before your final holiday push.

If you ran any Black Friday promotions or campaigns this year, taking stock of their results now is an important way to anticipate any last-minute changes you’ll need to make before your final holiday push.

For example, you may realize that a certain item you were heavily promoting didn’t sell as well as anticipated; now is your chance to take a look at the way you were messaging the promotion to see if you can make any changes. If it was a 10% discount, you may consider promoting the dollar amount instead, since “$50 off!” can often move people when “10% off!” can’t. On the flip side, if a certain item is unexpectedly selling like hotcakes, now is the time to restock and notice what’s working about that item/promotion.

Fine-Tune Your Ad Campaigns

While you measure the results of your Black Friday/Cyber Monday performance, don’t forget to check in on any related ad campaigns you ran. This is one area where some last-minute fine-tuning can make a huge difference! Check on the performance and conversions of your social media and PPC ads in particular, because those are both areas where a word change here or there can lead to improved click-throughs or conversions. The example from #1 applies here too; often, there are opportunities to change the way you’re messaging a certain promotion or discount.

Make Sure Holiday-Related Information on Your Site is Updated

Do people understand your shipping policies? Do they know what their last day is if they want to receive a purchase by Christmas? When does your promotion start and end? What is your refund policy? Do you offer gift receipts? Now is your chance to make sure this information is available, visible and readily accessible on your site.

It never hurts to ask if people would like to volunteer to pick up extra hours.

Make Last-Minute Staff Adjustments

If Black Friday surprised you by overwhelming you with orders and requests that you weren’t anticipating, it’s not too late to move your staff around or even make last-minute hires so that all hands are on deck for the holidays. Be careful not to add extra hours or cancel someone’s vacation plans out of the blue, though, as those are morale-killers that will have repercussions for your company long past the holidays. But it never hurts to ask if people would like to volunteer to pick up extra hours; many people would welcome the extra cash around this time of year. You can also ask managers to temporarily take a more boots-on-the-ground role than they normally would, working alongside their team members to handle the surge.

An extra sale isn’t worth the disappointment and lost trust if you can’t follow through.

Communicate!

Let’s say you can’t just magically make staff appear to help you catch up from the Black Friday overwhelm. As long as you communicate early and often with your customers, that’s okay! This might mean sending out an email that things are going to be a little slower than usual, putting up a message on your site, or both. It could mean adjusting your stated turnaround time. It could mean making sure all out-of-stock products are listed as such.

Whatever you do, it’s not a good time to get optimistic about your ability to get your customers’ gifts to them on time. An extra sale isn’t worth the disappointment and lost trust if you can’t follow through. Just be honest, and have faith that your customers will appreciate the honesty - not to mention the reminder that your business is run by humans.

Happy holidays, and good luck — you’re almost at the finish line!

How are you getting your store ready for the holidays? Let us know in the comments!