For online stores, having a successful run-up to Christmas means keeping your customers happy. Fail to do this and you could find yourself on the naughty list. In other words, instead of earning decent revenue during the festive season, you’re left with little more than a piece of coal under the tree. We obviously don’t want this to happen to you, so we are passing on some of the secrets our insider elf has shared with us about what online retailers need to do to stay on the nice list.
Don’t forget to let customers know your last order date
It goes without saying that when people buy things in the run-up to Christmas, they generally need them before the big day. They will be buying gifts for family and friends or items for use over Christmas, like decorations, party clothes, and food and drink. Some, of course, always end up leaving things a little late, but the one thing they do not need is to pay for something and it not be there in time. It makes good business sense to clearly inform your customers of the deadline for Christmas delivery. You can do this by putting the information on your home, delivery and product pages and even by using a banner or pop-up. By letting them know, they cannot hold your business responsible for it arriving late and so your reputation remains untarnished. It also means there is less chance of you selling something only to have it returned in January.
Don’t let your website go offline
As millions of people start their online Christmas shopping, most websites catering for them will see a surge in traffic. These days, this can start as early as the beginning of November. One way to annoy all those visitors is if your website goes offline.
This can happen by going into maintenance mode while you update your website or simply because the number of visitors your site is getting is too big for your existing hosting solution. To avoid these potential problems, firstly, schedule any updates to happen at the least busy time of day, preferably the middle of the night, and secondly, ensure your hosting plan offers the resources you need to handle your traffic. For the latter, keep an eye on traffic levels and your website performance. If you suspect there are issues, then upgrade to a more powerful hosting solution.
Keep user data secure
Cybercriminals enjoy Christmas as much as everyone else does – particularly because the spending spree means there are more victims to exploit. For online retailers, one of the most important things you can do to stay off Santa’s naughty list is to protect customers’ personal and financial data from being stolen as it moves between their browser and your server. The way to do this is by installing an SSL certificate. Doing this encrypts that data, so even if it is intercepted, it is useless to hackers. There are a range of SSL certificates you can use, from free Let’s Encrypt certificates to those that provide a greater level of authentication and warranty. The added bonus is that your site will be labelled as secure on browsers, which gives Christmas shoppers increased confidence to buy from you.
Don’t run out of stock
While you will want to sell as much stock as possible, running out of it can be a problem for the customers who are counting on you to get their Christmas shopping completed. It means you will be losing potential sales and deterring customers from coming back later. To avoid the worst, keep a close eye on your inventory and reorder early. You should also remove any sold-out items from display, as seeing this can lead to greater disappointment.
Get your site in the festive mood
Despite the rise in online sales, over 80% of people still go to physical stores to shop for Christmas. One of the reasons for this is that the way shops are decorated makes them feel festive. In the pre-Christmas period, online stores should do this too. It sends a message that you have seasonal products in stock, it makes your site welcoming and encourages shoppers to stay and look around. As most online stores do this, not joining it makes a site look like a branch of Scrooge and Marley. So, start dressing up your pages with seasonal graphics, colours and other features, like festive banners and Christmas countdowns. Most of them can be installed with a simple plugin and removed quickly once the new year starts.
If you want Santa to reward you with bumper sales this Christmas, then you’ll need to keep off his naughty list. Hopefully, by following the advice mentioned in this article, you’ll keep your visitors happy and the revenue snowballing.
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