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How to prepare your online store for holiday traffic

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Research on consumer culture shows that 83% of millennials think it's important for the businesses they buy from to align with their values.

1. Make payments secure.

According to Payments Journal,2 about 50% of consumers are concerned about online fraud, and another 25% report feeling somewhat concerned. That's why it's a must to look after website security. To build trust and avoid losing sales, ensure your site is complying with the latest payment protocols.3 Build additional trust with your customers by including recognizable icons for the payment types you accept, such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and Discover.

2. Avoid website crashes.

Did you know that 13% of customers4 who abandon purchases cite website crashes as their reason? Now's a good time to make sure your website doesn't buckle under the strain of all that extra traffic. Monitor your website with a tool like Pingdom5 to make sure your uptime statistics are in the right zone 99.9% or more is ideal.

3. Improve the mobile experience.

Smartphones have become a more important part of the shopping process. In fact, they were responsible for 38% of online sales revenue6 during the 2019 holiday season. That means it's essential to make sure your mobile shopping experience works for customers. Otherwise, you could lose business to retailers with better performing sites. Test out browsing from your own phone to replicate the experience your customers have. And use Google's mobile testing tool7 to see how mobile-friendly your site is so you can tweak it before the rush.

4. Use retail insights.

Analytics is key when preparing for the holiday season. Before making any decisions about stock and product display, check past sales data to see which items have consistently been best sellers. You'll also be able to identify your most important and lucrative product categories, so you can showcase those too. And you can see which items customers consistently bookmark, which might hint that they're waiting for the right deal. This information will help you ensure the right products are always on display so you can maximize your sales.

5. Put your deals on display.

In a May 2020 survey, 60% of online shoppers in the U.S.8 reported that snagging a deal while making online purchases was even more important since COVID-19. To attract these customers, make it easy for them to find holiday deals. Many online stores handle this by having a special holiday shopping section within their site. You can add a large banner on your homepage highlighting holiday deals, and customers can click from there to a page listing all the promotions. The easier you make it for customers to find the deals they want, the more likely it is that they'll buy.

6. Add product videos.

Another way to improve your online store for customers is to add product videos. Some 66% of consumers9 say that watching short videos is their preferred way to learn about products they're thinking of buying. These videos help customers make up their minds, and as a bonus, they give you compelling content to share on social media to drive more traffic to your online store.

7. Offer free shipping.

Customers care about shipping. Since so many big retailers offer same-day or next-day delivery, your customers expect to get their purchases fast. And like with the big retailers, shoppers don't want to pay much, if anything, for it. Half of all shoppers4  abandon purchases because of extra costs at the checkout. Offer free shipping if you're able; if you can't, then clearly state shipping costs up front so customers don't get unwelcome surprises.

8. Improve your checkout process.

Even when customers put items in the cart, you can still lose them if your checkout isn't smooth. Take your checkout process for a test drive and fix any errors you find. Consider adding a guest checkout option to make it even easier for people to buy without having to create an account right then. Once they've successfully completed a purchase, satisfied new customers will be more likely to create a customer profile in the future.

9. Take on temporary staff.

Even though your store is online, the holidays require a lot of work behind the scenes, especially if you're stocking items yourself. If that's the case, it's a good time to take on some temporary staff to help with answering customer questions, processing orders, and shipping. Customers that receive answers and their orders promptly will be more likely to shop with you again.

With a bit of prep work on both the customer-facing parts of your website and the backend logistics, you can quickly ensure that your online store is ready for the holiday rush.

This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

  1. Radial, "Retailers Get Ready: Survey Shows COVID-19 Impact Hasn't Disrupted Consumer Holiday Shopping Plans", published July 8, 2020, accessed October 12, 2020. Back
  2. Payments Journal, "What Percent of US Consumers Are Concerned about Fraud When Shopping Online?", published April 27, 2020, accessed October 12, 2020. Back
  3. Andrea Wahbe, "PCI Compliance Checklist 2018: Plus, 17 Ways to Increase Trust & Sales ", Shopify Plus, published August 21, 2018, accessed October 12, 2020. Back
  4. Baymard Institute, "41 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics - Cart & Checkout", updated September 10, 2019, accessed October 12, 2020. Back
  5. Pingdom, accessed October 12, 2020. Back
  6. Adobe, "Adobe Digital Insights Holiday Recap 2019" (slide 20), published January 11, 2020, accessed October 12, 2020. Back
  7. Google, "Mobile Friendly Test", accessed October 12, 2020. Back
  8. Statista, "US online shopping discount importance COVID-19 2020", accessed October 12, 2020. Back
  9. Wyzowl, "100+ Video Marketing Statistics For 2020 (All New Data)", accessed October 12, 2020. Back