Christmas in July: Why You Should Prepare Your Online Store for the Holidays Now

It’s never too early to strategize for the busy holiday months! Read on to learn why you should start brainstorming and planning now.

xmasinjuly

In the middle of July you’re consumed with sunny days, barbecues and beach vacations. Sleigh bells, snowflakes and gift wrap are probably the last things on your mind, and that’s understandable. As an online business owner, though, you need to be thinking ahead – as far as you’re concerned, the holidays are right around the corner!

It does seem like the retail industry pushes the holidays on us earlier and earlier every year, and we’re not encouraging you to start launching Cyber Monday promos all over your site as soon as the leaves start changing colors. We do, however, strongly recommend taking some time to brainstorm and strategize your holiday marketing plan this summer. Get a head start and you’ll earn an avalanche of sales.

 

Why should you start planning now?

Your competitors probably are. The best in the industry know that a solid marketing plan takes time. If you don’t want to be left in the dust during the year’s busiest selling season, you need to keep up.

 

You need to figure out exactly what to put on sale. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t work during your holiday season last year, and build off that. Do you have a certain item you’re not going to be selling anymore in the new year? That’s a perfect thing to put on a holiday clearance sale. Do you have two products that would work really well as a package deal? Offer a buy one, get one offer. Identify your best sellers and plan to feature them on your homepage to entice shoppers and promote your heavy hitters. In keeping with the holiday theme, rename your featured products section something more descriptive like “Seasonal Favorites” or “Holiday Must Haves.”

Anybody can slap a discount on a couple items and call it a holiday sale, but the best merchants know that there’s strategy and thought that must be put into these seasonal promotions.

 

Design doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not enough to just throw the word “holiday” into your store’s copy. You’ll want dazzling visuals – buttons, banners and more. This means you’ll need the help of a graphic designer, and trust us, those folks are in demand around the holidays. It’s best to get your requests in early so you have time for edits and modifications.

 

You need a social media strategy. The opportunity to acquire new customers and make sales doesn’t just exist within your actual website. What about social media? Do you want a holiday-themed cover photo for your Facebook or background for your Twitter? How are you going to promote your sales on social? In fact, should you have an exclusive holiday discount or insider sale for your followers? Find ways to distinguish your store’s seasonal perks on social channels.

 

SEO needs to be updated. Re-evaluate your SEO efforts and begin updating/making changes as needed. Make sure your Volusion store is set to “SEO friendly” in the admin area, get your meta tags in order and configure your SEO for holiday products and categories.

 

Email marketing needs to be planned. Not only do you need to draft some compelling copy for your email newsletters, you need to strategically create subject lines and create a mailing schedule. Not to mention curating contact lists and getting email graphics ready (see item #3 above).

 

Now that you have an idea of when and why you’ll need to execute your holiday marketing strategy, put down the iced tea and get out there. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner!

Happy selling (and… happy holidays)!
-Emily Teachout, Volusion

About 

Emily Teachout was a Social Media writer and professional. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Communications and a specialization in Technology & Society, and has managed social media campaigns for brands across multiple industries. In her spare time, Emily blogs about Austin’s culinary and entertainment scenes – in fact, she attends over 100 concerts per year.

6 Responses to “Christmas in July: Why You Should Prepare Your Online Store for the Holidays Now”

  1. Planning Ahead for Holiday Season Demand | When I Work

    […] email, blog, or social media communications, start ramping up production now.  Emily Teachout, Volusion’s Social Media Associate, says that way, you have all of your ducks in a row and don’t have to worry about scrambling at […]

    Reply
  2. Sully

    Thanks for the feedback. I was just curious how golf equipment would do as well. Considering it is typical a summer sport for those that have winter. Just would hate to sell out too early…

    Reply
  3. Patrick

    Another good Holiday tip is to get your Seo in early. Slap a black friday or Christmas sale into some meta tags months earlier. And of course know your postal deadlines so you can push the “X days left”.

    Reply
    • Gracelyn Tan

      You hit the nail on the head, Patrick. Thanks for the extra insight!

      Reply
  4. Sully

    What percent of online sales are sold in December versus rest of the year? I sell a high end golf driver, and trying to market for my first holiday rush. http://www.bombtechgolf.com Love to learn more, my website is a volusion site.

    Reply
    • Matt Winn

      Hey Sully, great question. I couldn’t find data specific to each month, but was able to dig up some quarterly data from the Census bureau from 2012.

      Here’s the breakdown (in millions of dollars):
      Q1 2012: $50,295
      Q2 2012: $51,203
      Q3 2012: $52,492
      Q4 2012: $71,500

      As you can see, there was a pretty massive spike in the final three months of 2012, which is a direct reflection of the holiday season. Keep in mind, too, that a large amount of holiday purchases are made in November, and even as early as October, so now is the time to start prepping.

      Reply

Leave a Reply