Prepare your site for Q4 Online Holiday Sales

Q4 is upon us, so there has never been a more urgent time to make sure your site is ready to crush the competition for online holiday sales. There are nine US holidays between October 31st and December 31st. A veritable honeypot of profits. Q4 presents the opportunity to capture the fandom of your current customers and create RAVE reviews and customer loyalty (and have your best Q4 to date), or to fall flat with website abandonment, late shipping, lost revenue and failed communication opportunities.

Each year, more and more merchants are coming on-board to compete for your customer’s attention. There will be endless noise on social media and through e-news with brands vying for their slice of the pie. Did you know that U.S eCommerce sales are projected to top $586 billion this year? Wow, that is a lot of stiff competition!

According to BigCommerce, 53% of Cyber Week sales were made by users on a phone or tablet. If your site isn’t geared to cater to these users with responsive coding, fast loading times and smart shopping funnels, you may be pissing off half of your shoppers.

So what can you do to ensure that your customers will rave about their holiday shopping experience with your brand?

Create Your Q4 Holiday Sales Strategy

You have to plan for success, not hope for it. The planning stage should be started in Q1 for launch at the end of Q3 or beginning of Q4.

Start by knowing the facts.

After back to college spending, the winter holidays are the top planned spend by consumers in Q4, according to The National Retail Federation. See their data on top 10 consumer spending events.

Q4 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

Q4 Holiday Calendar

Halloween Sales

Social Selling Platforms of Choice: Pinterest & Facebook

Top Selling Products: Candy, Decorations, Costumes

Launch Specials: October 1st

Shoppers say they will spend an average $86.27 of an $8.8 billion in total spending in 2019. This year’s total is expected to be the third-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, after the record $9.1 billion set in 2017. While spending hasn’t really changed, what has changed is the “noticeable increase in consumers whose Halloween purchases are inspired by their friends, neighbors and even celebrities on social media,” according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. So plan to be where your customers are looking for inspiration.

Hanukkah Sales

Social Selling Platforms of Choice: Facebook & Instagram

Top Selling Products: Menorahs, Dreidels, Candles, Affordable Gifts, Gelt, Party Supplies

Launch Specials: October 15th

According to Adobe Analytics, when looking at items bought between Nov. 1 and Dec. 6 that either had ‘Christmas’ or ‘Hanukkah’ in their names, Hanukkah items made up about 1 percent of those purchases. While that percentage may seem small, consider these facts:

  • 1% of 730+ Billion is $7,300,000,000. Not too shabby. Who wouldn’t mind a slice of this pie?
  • Jewish people make up 2.5 percent of the American population, or around 8,180,000 people. That is a NICE niche market.
  • Hanukkah items are hard to find among Christmas products in retail stores, according to the Washington Post, which makes online sales a perfect solution.
  • When retailers do stock, they often don’t stock until too late, because of the changing date of Hanukkah from one year to the next.
  • Many communities don’t have Judaica stores of their own, so going online is often the only option.

 

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Thanksgiving Day & Black Friday Sales

Social Selling Platforms of Choice: Facebook & Instagram

Top Selling Products: Electronics, Small Appliances, Winter Clothing

Launch Specials: November 28-29

Customers love to kick off the holiday shopping season with deals, don’t they?

Online stores should consider the Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday profit-making period as a week of deals, not necessarily as separate days with separate deals. But you also need to know your data and be tracking trends in your industry. Obviously, what you sell may cause you to tweak when you make deals to meet shopper expectation.

Retailers are jumping on this new trend to open sales prior to Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day. According to Business Insider, the kickoff to the holiday shopping season is Thanksgiving, but eCommerce stores don’t have to wait, and thus have a real advantage here. Plan a two-day Black Friday Sale starting on Thanksgiving Day. If you plan on capitalizing on Cyber Monday sales as well, don’t offer your lowest prices yet. Reserve those for Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday Sales

Social Selling Platforms of Choice: Facebook & Instagram

Top Selling Products: Electronics, Shoes, Cell Phones

Launch Specials: Dec 2

In the past, you might have considered this to be the top of the crescendo of deals, but that is changing. With more and more shoppers buying things online, the distinction between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is blurring. With that in mind, you might consider adopting a strategy to offer specials throughout the week, promoting certain types of items on certain platforms, for a week-long capture of profits. If you are a Cyber Monday purist be sure to offer your best deals on Dec 2.

Green Monday Sales

Social Selling Platforms of Choice: Facebook & Instagram

Top Selling Products: Electronics, Clothing, Toys

Launch Specials: Dec 9

Green Monday is an online retail industry term similar to Cyber Monday. The term was coined by eBay in 2007 to describe the best sales day in December, usually the second Monday of December. Green Monday is the next best day for deals after Thanksgiving/Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As you are creating specials for this shopping day, think URGENCY: last minute shopping & late-starting shoppers. Green Monday is the day when shoppers have a moment of collective panic, realizing that the window for getting orders delivered by Christmas is closing fast. Be prepared to offer shipping deals to get things there on time. See 2019 shipping deadlines below.

Boxing Day Sales

Social Selling Platforms of Choice: Facebook & Instagram

Launch Specials: December 26

Boxing Day is not a shopping holiday in the USA; however, 26 December is the beginning of after-Christmas sales and the day many folks return unwanted gifts for exchanges and have gift card monies to spend. Capture some of those sales while people are still reeling from the “I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas” attitude.

Kwanza Sales

Social Selling Platforms of Choice: Facebook & Instagram

Top Selling Products: Candelabrum/Kinara, Candles, African Art, Books about African Heritage

Launch Specials: December 26

Kwanzaa celebrates African roots and culture for seven days. The National Retail Foundation found that 13 percent of African Americans observe the holiday, or approximately 4.7 million people.

Your Q4 eCommerce Holiday Checklist

Not only are holiday shoppers in a frenzy to get the best deals to fulfill their holiday shopping lists, store owners will also find themselves in a frenzy fulfilling those orders. You don’t want to be dealing with these issues during Q4, so make sure they are nailed down now.

Website Security

It should go without saying in 2019 that your site should be fully secured with an SSL certificate, but we still find sites that are not fully secured. That means that ALL of your website pages are secured by an SSL certificate, not just your checkout.

Website Speed

Remember that stat from above? That over 50% of online holiday shopping is done using a mobile device? This creates the need for speed. People on phones are even less patient than users on desktops. Make sure your site loads in 3 seconds or less. You can test it here.

Functionality Additions / Changes

You, or your webmaster, should be wrapping up all coding changes to the site now, and putting your site into homeostasis until next year. Be sure all recent changes are fully tested and functional.

Server Load

Contact your website host and make sure that your account can handle a sharp uptick in traffic without the server crashing. Some hosting accounts have a hard throttle on traffic and will not allow it through, and some will allow it and charge you for the overage. Be sure you understand all costs and contingencies.

Shopping Funnel

You should already know your shopping data. Your top categories and top selling products – the ones that make you 80% of your profits. Make sure these are present on your home page, so that people are funneled easily to them. Don’t make them wade through a swamp of information overload to get to your gems.

Upsells

If there was ever a time to capitalize on all the extra traffic that holidays sales provide, this is it. Have an upsell plan in place, ready to implement for each holiday sale you will have this year. You can create per order upsells or per product upsells. Make sure they are the kind of offers that your shoppers cannot refuse.

Content & Graphic Design

Have your content plan in place, and all content written well in advance, so that is it copy and paste ready to deploy that last minute sales copy.

All of your sales graphics should be made by now. One caveat. Don’t use cheesy stock photos. Not now. Not ever. Invest in your own photography. Make it relatable to your customers, and personal. Make it look like your brand, and not like your competitor’s.

Shipping

Not only is important to have a plan to capture holiday sales, you must plan to ship those on time to meet customer expectations and maintain your online reputation. Post these deadlines on your site, so that customers know when they must make their purchases by to hit these deadlines. Make sure you are stocked on shipping supplies, and be prepared to offer shipping tracking.

Here are the most important deadlines to take note of:

2019 Shipping Deadlines for Christmas

Bringing on an expert to give your site that final polish can make the difference for you, even still, but you need to act fast. Let us know your biggest pain point and we will get back to you ASAP with a plan!

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