Things really start to pick up in the ecommerce world around the holidays. Sellers are promoting their holiday sales and customers are eager to receive their orders before the season has passed. With so much going on during this time of year, sellers are more likely to make mistakes with their ecommerce business. Here are a few common mistakes that sellers should keep in mind around the holiday season to ensure their business is not negatively impacted.
Improperly Forecasting Sales Data
Failing to forecast sales data during the holiday season can be detrimental to a business. If you predict that demand for your products will be lower than it ends up being, your business won’t have enough inventory to make it through the season. Conversely, predicting too high of a demand for your products will result in excess inventory which often must be liquidated at much lower prices.
For many sellers, the best way to fix this issue is by improving existing forecasting methods. Using additional forecasting tools, like a comprehensive inventory management software solution that allows for automated reporting, will help you forecast more accurately and be properly prepared for the holidays.
Waiting Too Long to Prepare or Launch a Marketing Campaign
Another common mistake ecommerce sellers make during the holiday season is neglecting to announce holiday marketing campaigns at the right time. Implementing a marketing strategy too early makes your sales less exciting by the time the holidays roll in. Waiting too long will result in your campaign not having enough time to really be effective.
Preventing this issue is often trial and error. Take note of when you have launched your campaigns in previous years as well as what your competitors are doing. For those who announce their marketing campaign too early, try and come up with something small in addition, specifically centered around the holidays. If there’s still time, a free gift or deeper discount might be effective. When time is especially short, consider going live on social media. Video marketing is huge and it’s estimated that two-thirds of online shoppers prefer to watch product videos over reading about them.
As for companies announcing too late, the best thing to do is inform as many repeat or established customers as possible, as these are the people who are willing to come back, even in the offseason.
Updating Your Site Too Late
Many ecommerce sellers update their websites prior to when they expect heavier traffic, like around the holidays. Updating your site is important. A new look has the potential to intrigue both new and existing customers. However, making changes to your site is also risky if you don’t have enough time to see how those changes will affect your sales.
If the holidays are quickly approaching and you haven’t made changes to your site, it may be best to leave things alone and instead, make sure the site set-up you currently have is solid. Take note of your competitors during the season and start updating your site earlier next year.
Assuming Servers Can Handle Traffic
Much like driving down a freeway, when servers encounter a large amount of traffic, things tend to slow down. This is a big issue for ecommerce businesses, as the majority of potential consumers expect a web page to load within a few seconds. Longer load times tend to drive customers away as they feel their time is being wasted.
The best way to prepare for extra traffic on your site is to make sure your servers can handle the increase in visitors. Look at trends in your sales data to see how many potential customers your site receives during the holidays and then test your server to make sure it can accommodate the extra traffic. There are various online tools that you can use to simulate added stress on servers.
Not Offering Rush Shipping
Last-minute shopping is always popular close to the holiday season. Customers expect businesses to provide rush shipping for their orders. When rush shipping isn’t offered, customers may be driven away from your site as they don’t want to wait for a delayed delivery.
In addition, make sure your fulfillment team is adaptable to any last-minute changes. Throughout the holiday season, customers are more likely to change their shipping address (for gifts), contact information, and other details about their order, so it is important your business is ready for some curveballs.
The holidays are a busy time for ecommerce sellers and customers alike. Preparing for the holidays as an online business owner can be complicated, so it’s important to start preparing early and have a plan. The holiday season is the biggest opportunity all year to boost sales and revenue. Be sure to make the most of that opportunity by avoiding the challenges we’ve mentioned. Do that, and you’ll be ready for everything the season has to offer!