Are you e-commerce ready for the festive season?


The weather in the UK has officially dropped, but just as coat and hat season has arrived so too has the run-up to the biggest event of the year – Christmas. Not only that but we spend the next few days waving through the Black Friday madness!

You may have only just begun considering your Christmas wish list, but many people out there are well ahead of you.

In fact, data by Statista has revealed UK shoppers begin their festive sprees as early as October. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that through a lack of planning, you could be missing out on 22% of sales.

If you run an e-commerce store, this season is big business. In the UK alone, we spend more than £25 billion during the Christmas season.  Even the small e-commerce stores should have planned their strategy early.

With more of us choosing to use online stores rather than bricks and mortar shops, it’s vital that your e-commerce site can not only attract the sales but ensure the customer experience is as enjoyable as a mince pie with a glass of sherry.

Shoppers no longer want to trail the highstreet ladened with bags. They want to sit comfortably at home and let the shopping come to them.

To help you have a successful festive season, we’ve listed a quick e-commerce checklist that even those jumping into this at the last minute can take advantage of. Just like Santa’s, don’t forget to check it twice.


Know Your Goal  

As with any major e-commerce event, it’s essential to know your goal.

The competition is going to be fierce this time of year, so to make sure you really get what you want from it, define your goal or outcome of the season.

  • Are you looking to increase sales?
  • Increase brand loyalty?
  • Or boost brand awareness?

Having this goal in mind will help you to align your entire festive marketing strategy. Helping you to remain focussed, rather than trying to hope for the best, or going out there with mixed messages all over the place.

Keep it simple about what you want to achieve, and use it as your driving force for the rest of these vital areas.


Decide on Your Discounts

As the season of ‘goodwill’ it’s all too easy to get caught up playing discount ping pong – but don’t do it!

Use your goal to help you decide on the discounts and sales you’re going to action during the Christmas month or after.

Don’t be led by competitors or trends, decide on where you stand with some of the big discount days, and don’t feel pressured into joining in just because everyone else does. At the end of the day, any wrong move could tarnish both your sales targets and your brand reputation, so take a considered approach to customer offers.

If your goal is to increase sales, make it simple by offering a percentage off.

However, if you’re looking to nurture customer loyalty during the season, look to offer selected discounts to your VIP customers. They will love you for it!

Whatever strategy you decide upon, keep in mind your customers. There are many Christmas nightmares lost over unhappy existing customers when brands have given new customers larger discounts. You’ve heard the tales, so take the message on board.


Make it Feel Festive

We’re not asking you to go full Santa’s Grotto, but at least give your customers that festive feeling when they land on your website.

Adding a featured homepage, and even products in a more seasonal setting can help enhance that Christmas spirit.

Plus, during this season you need to ‘sell’ your products more than any other time in the year. So giving them a little Christmas make-over can encourage a purchase. After all, people love getting inspiration for gifts they should get for people, so really draw on this and highlight the products you have on offer.

A gentle word of warning, though. Even when you’re adding that Christmas vibe to your e-commerce store, remain on-brand. Decking your pages with enough sparkles and tinsel to shame Santa could turn your customers away from your product. Keep in-line with your brand guidelines, and the style that attracts your audience.


Audit Your Website

While we’re talking of your e-commerce website, one key area that many stores forget is a thorough audit.

Glaringly obvious errors can stop even the most sophisticated e-commerce store from gaining sales, so before you start driving customers to your website, ensure there’s nothing that’s going to turn them away.

Simple things such as delivery charges or having a long payment process can all freeze those festive sales.

If you are too close to your website to conduct a thorough audit, ask a professional such as our team here at Red Alien, or ask a friend or relative to make a dummy purchase and give you some critical feedback.  An audit can help improve user experience and SEO.


Plan Your Promotional Calendar

You know what they say – poor planning equals poor performance.

Don’t let the festive season slip away from you, fully embrace the months ahead and get organised.

As well as planning in the discounts and offers that you’re going to push, also look at key items and products that you should promote.

Are there bundles you could put together to increase basket value? Or are there particular products that often get purchased together that you could create a collection from?

Fully assess your product line and promotions so that you have a clear view of the next three to four months, and can plan in advance.

For example, January sales come out hot after Christmas, so can you begin to prepare the stock and items that you can push?


Fire Up Your PPC

If you haven’t begun creating a strong GoogleAds strategy, now is the time to get your head around what you want to be pushing.

During this season, GoogleAds can be expensive, as common phrases become highly competitive. This is where consulting with a PPC specialist can pay off as they’ll be able to guide you towards keywords that can provide you with the best return.

For any advertising content you create, ensure to highlight strong call to actions that will encourage buyers, such as ‘free shipping’, or ‘Christmas sale’ or ‘50% discount’.


Utilise Your Email Database

 It’s always surprising just how many e-commerce businesses don’t utilise their email database. These people are won over by your brand and have made the decision to keep updated. Harnessing these loyal customers can help you bring in stronger sales than the time spent attempting to nurture new sales.

The Christmas season is a peak time for presenting buying opportunities. Your email database is not only seeking to buy gifts, but they are already aware of your brand and will be more likely to purchase than a brand new customer.

As well as providing your existing database with an exclusive offer, make them feel even more valued by giving them a first look at seasonal products.


Prepare Your Customer Service Team

According to Facebook data, in the UK, 32% of shoppers said they messaged a business during the 2018 festive season.

From live chatbots on your website to instant messaging via social media, ensure to train your customer service team on the incoming queries.

Christmas will be a busy time for customer questions. People want to know when they can expect the item to arrive, your returns policy, delivery charges, and even ask if it can be gift wrapped. By having a team who are responsive and helpful, it will give your brand a serious boost over the festive season. The more people you please, the more likely it is that they will make a purchase as they trust your brand.

Using your audience insights, identify the channels your customers are most likely to use to get customer support. This will help ensure you utilise the right channels for your customers, making it easier for them to get in touch with you instantly.

Investing in the time to prepare your customer service team, and the channels they use will ensure you don’t have any Christmas Scrooges leaving you negative reviews.

Using this checklist, your e-commerce website will see a successful festive season. Don’t forget to note down your open and closing times, and above all, always provide outstanding customer service. 


Embed this infographic on your site:

<a href=”https://www.redalien.co.uk/blog/are-you-e-commerce-ready-for-the-festive-season/”><img style=”width:100%;” src=”https://www.redalien.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/christmas-ecommerce-infographic.jpg”></a><br>ecommerce infographic <a href=”https://www.redalien.co.uk/blog/are-you-e-commerce-ready-for-the-festive-season/”>Xmas E-Commerce Infographic</a>

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Zak Jacobs

About Zak Jacobs

Zak Jacobs is the Director of UK Digital Agency Red Alien. An experienced digital marketing professional, passionate about online integrity, user experience, and performance marketing strategies.