How to Optimize Your Online
Sales This Holiday Season
The most profitable shopping season of the year is almost upon us. Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the winter holidays, the next 30-plus days should bring a rush of visitors new and old to your online store. Most will not be window-shopping. You should assume that everyone is willing to buy if you have what they want.
However, it is vital for you to make sure that your ecommerce website is fully prepared to meet this demand. Optimization can make a crucial difference between a significant sales surge and a devastating bounce rate.
Here is some advice on how to optimize your online sales this holiday season.
Prepare For a Flood of Traffic
In general, more people make purchases during the holiday season than any other time of the year. That truth may also apply to your own online store.
Any boost in the number of visitors should be a boon, but if your site cannot handle such spikes, it may easily become a problem. Insufficient preparation for an influx of traffic can cause technical issues, resulting in slow load times or even downtime. Any problems like these could discourage potential customers, and you will feel that pain in your wallet. This is why you need to optimize your website’s performance so that it does not get crushed by the holiday rush.
To learn more about how the system performs under pressure, we recommend giving your online store a load test or stress test. These experiments simulate high demand and can show you how much traffic your site can handle at once without slowing down or shutting down. You must inform your online provider before you do this or they may mistake the test as a genuine attack and shut down your website as a safety measure.
There are a few methods you can implement on the back end of your site to increase its performance:
- If you expect extraordinary traffic, you may even want to utilize a content delivery network (CDN). The servers in this network are capable of caching webpages, including frequently accessed or requested ones. This significantly reduces bandwidth strain, especially on popular pages, allowing more traffic to flow through.
- Compression can be a handy tool. Compressing image sizes optimizes load times, while compressing code relieves stress on your site’s bandwidth.
- Naturally, your provider should be able to help you as well. You can ask them to scale your site’s resources or set up more servers to during times of high demand.
Besides the more obvious benefits, preparing for traffic spikes ahead of time is crucial because you may have more work to do than you realize.
You can only make as much revenue as your online store’s technical limits allow, and you may start thinking that finding a more flexible ecommerce platform will improve this. No matter what you decide, you must do what is necessary. Keeping your site active and responsive during this period of unusual traffic may be more important than any other priority. No other methods of optimizing your online sales will have as much of an effect as they could if the website itself does not work.
Optimize Your Mobile Site as Well
A well-designed website is crucial for success, but how nice does it look on a phone screen?
Mobile traffic should not be overlooked when optimizing your site. Even if you have responsive design, which allows your website to adjust its presentation of content to fit any screen size, you still have to make sure any back-end changes work fine on either platform. After all, people can use both their desktops and cell phones to see your products and your online store, and the mobile site can contribute greatly to your overall earnings.
In the end, you have to optimize your online sales by optimizing your website in a way that improves your customers’ shopping experience. When people access your site on their cell phones, they will want to benefit from these improvements just as much as when they access the site on their computer screens.
If your store is not already optimized for mobile ecommerce, then holiday season preparation is the perfect time to take this step. This may not seem vital at first: according to Wolfgang Digital’s E-Commerce KPI Study from 2016, people make purchases on their phones far less frequently than on desktops. However, the same study found that mobile browsing is far more popular than computer browsing.
Even if site visitors prefer to switch systems for their purchases, they still become customers. Plus, looking at the bigger picture, the fraction of customers who buy on mobile devices still represent billions of dollars in holiday season sales. Ignoring the potential profits from cell phone users risks losing them to competitors who cater to them.
Embrace the Season
The tradition of gift-giving is not the only reason people spend so much during the holiday season. The masses have proven that any merchandise related to their favorite holidays can find room in their hearts and homes. If you have any items even remotely related to these festivities, promoting them can translate to extra sales.
Even if you do not sell anything in this vein, you can always take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Their entire appeal is the deals that retailers offer. While competing for consumers’ attention may seem intimidating on these days, it is certainly better than offering nothing – especially for any frequent visitors.
There are plenty of other methods you can utilize for taking advantage of the seasonal spirit to promote your products. In a 2017 study, Yes Lifecycle Marketing found that emails related to Black Friday normally have higher open rates than the average email, and emails related to Cyber Monday have even better conversion rates.
Beyond email promotions, seasonally appropriate post can add a festive touch to your social media presence. Creating special content for this time of year can also engage visitors and boost site SEO at a time when competition for traffic is at its highest. As with colorful lights on a house, even a little holiday decoration can go a long way in making your website engaging and appealing.
About the Author:
Gonzalo Gil is the founder and CEO of 3dcart, a leading online store builder ranked as the best shopping cart software for SEO. As an ecommerce expert, Gonzalo works with businesses of all sizes to help them build their online presence and succeed selling online.