If you’ve been on the fence about starting your online store, that’s completely understandable. It’s a lot of work, and it’s natural to want to feel like your ducks are in a row before embarking on any big endeavor. That said, no pressure, but let me pressure you a whole lot because now is the time to move! We’re less than six months away from the holiday season, which may not mean a lot for regular people, but for entrepreneurs it usually means holiday preparations are already underway. Here are five reasons why now is the time to take the plunge if you’re looking for ecommerce success this holiday season:
You Don’t Want To Set Up Your Shop During a Busy Season
Unless you’re selling pool toys or other products that peak during the summer, it’s likely you’ll join the scores of ecommerce store owners who consider the holidays their busiest season. That’s something that clashes with all the frontloading you’ll have to do to get your store set up. Uploading product SKUs and photos, getting your design just right, writing product descriptions, setting up any integrations you might need, running test orders...these things take time!
The likely scenario, however, is that you won’t get a single order at all, and you’ll miss out on holiday opportunities this year.
If you wait until too close to the holidays to set up your store, then in one scenario you’ll end up completely overwhelmed, trying to manage orders and set up a store at the same time. The likely scenario, however, is that you won’t get a single order at all, and you’ll miss out on holiday opportunities this year. Unless you’ve been marketing on other avenues for awhile, you probably won’t see overnight success when you open your online store.
The Store Will Anchor a Full Timeline Up To December
To have your best holiday season, you’ll want to block out your marketing calendar now.
Speaking of marketing: let’s talk about it. To have your best holiday season, you’ll want to block out your marketing calendar now. From determining the products you plan on selling to designing promotional hero graphics and planning editorial content, planning for the holidays requires a structured strategy and a timeline that moves at a fast clip while also providing breathing room. If you need help creating your own marketing timeline, here’s a great guide that will get you started. The upshot of all this planning is that building your store now fits right into the holiday timeline, and it can even provide the momentum and framework you’ll need to design a pitch-perfect campaign all the way through December.
...But Actually, the Holidays Start in October
Sorry, did I say December? I meant October. Yes, you’ll absolutely need a campaign timeline that runs all the way through December, but that doesn’t mean December is your target launch date. Conventional wisdom (and something I’m sure you’ve noticed/felt annoyed by, too) is that as soon as Halloween is over, candy and costumes go on clearance and the holiday stuff comes out of the warehouse. But actually, many consumers tend to get a jump start on holiday shopping even a little earlier than that, with 40% of them completing some of their holiday shopping before the end of October. You’ll want to note this and plan your product releases accordingly.
40% of consumers complete their holiday shopping before the end of October.
Does this mean you should change your homepage slideshow to a series of giant Christmas trees and menorahs on the first of October? No, but you can — for example — release a warm fall product line that is easily transferable to the winter, and target early shoppers with your marketing. The bottom line is, when you’re thinking about how much time you have until the holidays, October should be your deadline.
Search Engines Take Time
One major reason to get your store running now is the amount of time it takes for search engines to index and rank your website. It’s something we in the SEO world have to explain a lot to people who are expecting immediate results, and when we say “Google can take awhile to index” we’re actually using a bit of a misnomer to keep the explanation short and digestible.
The truth is, Google really can index your site within a day or so of reading your site map, which is why you’ll start to quickly show up on page 100 for a target search term — or page one for a really, really obscure one. But getting your site indexed, while essential, isn’t the part that takes so much time and work (unless you have a crawlability or technical issue).
Expecting to rank for a high-value search term just because your site has been indexed is a little like expecting to be the star player of a soccer team that lets everyone play.
Expecting to rank for a high-value search term just because your site has been indexed is a little like expecting to be the star player of a soccer team that lets everyone play. It can absolutely be done, but you still have to work hard, have a knack for soccer and hope that you didn’t end up on a team where the other players are very, very good. What this means for most businesses is months of perfecting on-site SEO and months of PR tactics to get the right people talking and linking. So if you want holiday shoppers to find your site when they search for your products, you’ll need to get started now.
Ironing Out the Kinks Takes Time, Too!
And finally, the fun part: the unpredictable, iterative, maddening and exciting process of running your business. No matter how great your business plan is, how detailed your timeline is, or how extensive your background knowledge is, running the thing is a whole different animal. From small flaws within your supply chain that suddenly become big to unexpected popular (or unpopular) products to needy customers, so many things will come up that you simply haven’t planned for. At best that means you address problems on the spot and keep moving; at worst, it means rethinking entire strategies to accommodate the new information.
As your business moves forward, that constant state of movement and adaptation will slow (but never stop) while you iron out immediate kinks and learn more about your customers. So the more you can get any major glitches or roadblocks out of the way pre-holiday season, the better! That way when the holidays do come around, you’ll be ready to greet ready customers with a bustling, well-functioning store.
Have any advice for getting your store holiday-ready? Let us know in the comments!