Did you know most e-Commerce DTC sites make a greater share of their yearly revenue during the holiday season? In fact, some sites make as much revenue in Q4 (October-December) as they do all year long.
Here’s how to make sure your site is fully optimized for holiday shopping in terms of Merchandising, UX, and your promotional plan.
Merchandising Best Practices
Starting with merchandising tips, we’ve curated our top 9 tips to ensure you’re prepared for the holiday season.
1. Create dedicated Black Friday and Cyber Monday pages
These should live on throughout the year and re-used each year to keep gaining good SEO value. Black Friday & Cyber Monday should have their own unique pages that tout the upcoming deals before the actual events. On the day of, these pages should actually house the deals or provide easy ways to navigate to them.
Doing this, customers will be trained to go to these pages annually and start planning their shopping in advance.
Also, if people search for “Black Friday Deals on Champagne Flutes” and you specialize in Champagne Flutes and have been using this strategy for years, there is a good chance you’ll show toward the top on that search and customers will think you are an authority.
2. Tinge your site with a holiday aesthetic
This can be a whole site holiday re-brand or can be as simple as using some seasonal elements. Here are some examples:
- Image overlays -- holiday themed, holiday categories
- Tip: Holiday-specific photoshoots should be done well in advance. This way, the site and media team have plenty of seasonal / gifting assets to choose from to keep your site looking fresh and new. If you have the same old content on the Homepage, people are less likely to click through.
- Nav – adding bow, sparkles, stars, etc and other holiday treatments (playfully renaming top nav categories)
- Using colors of the season – does not have to be just red & green; can be anything that evokes the holiday in people’s minds
- Holiday gifting modules & content should be sprinkled throughout the site wherever possible
3. Audit your assortment
Look for items that can be tied to a holiday theme or that seem like good gifting options. These are the products you’ll want to promote heavily during this time. After doing this YOY, you’ll get a good idea of which type of products in your assortment are good candidates for holiday gifting.
After auditing your assortment, you can now create categories and collections that appeal to the seasonality. These will feed the next tip which is essential: the Gift Guide.
4. Gift Guides are a must
Especially when separated by price tier (Under $25, $25-$50, etc…), it’s an easy way to attract customers. But price isn't the only category! Try out other fun, holiday-focused themes that help people find the right gift for everyone on their shopping list.
- “Gifts for the Fashionista Mom”
- “Gifts for the Guy that has everything”
If you have a large enough assortment, it could be fun to do an interactive guide where you answer some questions about the gift recipient and the system gives you the best suggestion for them.
5. Create strong Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals
Really and truly, the deals are what keeps customers shopping each Q4. So, you’ll want to make sure you have sales that make the purchase worthwhile.
Here’s a few ways to create holiday gifting bundles that benefit your profit and the customer:
- Try running promotions like “12 Days of Giving” or an Advent Calendar style sale if you have enough product
- The freshness of the promotions will keep visitors coming back until they have an affinity to one of your deals
- Look for products with low COGS and high value, so you can heavily discount the overall bundle while showing a high value to visitors
- They can gift the bundle as is, or many customers will break it up and give individual products and individual gifts
- Flash sales are an effective way to sell these bundles during the holiday season and can become events that customers are waiting for
- Most brands have a release of “Holiday Products” that are usually gift oriented and highly desirable by brand loyalists and anyone looking for a value
- Tip: If you’re a brand with wholesale partners, you’ll want to do an exclusive pre-launch before the wholesale partners
- Have an “Exclusive Early Access” to holiday products, giving your brand site early sales over your wholesalers for a week or so
- If needed, you can gate it only for a percentage of your best customers – that will help build loyalty in your brand site, and not irate your wholesale partners too much
Don’t forget, it’s always best to increase the promotional value from the start (4-5 days before Black Friday) to the biggest day which should be Cyber Monday!
6. Offer shipping discounts paired with urgency messaging
If you want to drive sales during the last holiday push before Christmas, you need to offer free shipping. Here's your plan:
Before the cutoff for standard shipping, start offering FREE standard shipping guaranteeing delivery on or 2-3 days before Christmas.
Once standard shipping will no longer get the gifts there on time, use your expedited shipping option and offer it for FREE or $5 to still get the gift in 1-2 days.
7. Create a promo banner or ribbon on global top navigation
Most sites are using these now, and it can be even more impactful on mobile. Just make sure it’s up to date and reflects the best deals you're offering.
8. Update your blog
If you have a blog, make sure it’s up to date and promoting your great holiday products and deals in an editorial fashion.
Blogs are a good way to drive organic traffic to your site, so the content needs to reflect the seasonality and what you’re doing on your site during this season.
9. Have a post-Christmas plan
In the days leading up to the 25th, start looking at your holiday or fall assortment and start planning your “After Christmas” sale.
This sale should start on the 26th, with the deepest discounts you can offer, as all competitors are trying to clear out seasonal merchandise by the first of the year.
UX/UI Best Practices
Now that you know how to merchandise your products, here are a few more UX/UI tips to keep in mind.
1. Don't sacrifice good UX
It’s important for your site to look holiday-esque, but keep in mind all the usability best practices that you should be following.
2. No code pushes after 10/15
Unless you’re fixing an issue that is hurting the site or conversions, put a code freeze on your site.
Content pushes are fine during this time but should be monitored closely so as to not introduce anything that may cause issues.
3. Finalize pixels
Make sure all pixels and tracking are in place correctly by mid-October. This gives you a good enough buffer to ensure your site is ready by peak shopping periods.
Promotional Plan Best Practices
The best thing you can do for your promos each holiday season is to search your product assortment for items with low COGS, high value, and good inventory positions. Use these as a “Gift with Purchase” for holiday promos as an extra incentive for customers to shop.
When your site follows the above processes, you'll be able to capitalize off visitors who are looking to give businesses their money during the holiday season. Plus, it’ll put you in the best position to receive as much of that revenue pie as possible. Happy holidays!