04 Easy Steps To Prepare Your Online Store Ready For Holiday Season (2020 – 21 Updated)
This is the first chapter in our expansive guide about Online Store For Holiday Season
I. Why It’s Sink Or Swim This Holiday Season
Just a couple of months ago the outlook for the year 2020 was a stellar testament to the dynamic growth of the eCommerce industry.
True, the overall forecasted growth rate saw a slight decrease from 4.5% to 4.1% but overall, when compared to the rest of the economy, things were looking great. Then, COVID-19 happened, the embodiment of a black swan event, and all of a sudden things weren’t nearly as clear cut as they had been earlier.
Initially many outlets made bold predictions about how this global pandemic was going to affect different industries, but as the statistics and trends came pouring in, one thing was obvious: nobody knew exactly what the effects were going to be. And why should they?
This event is so utterly alien to the modern globalised economy that any allusions to previous pandemics or economic recessions and depressions just didn’t fit.
One sector, however, emerged from these strange times, if not wholly unaffected, then at least buoyed by more and more customers turning to them and their products or services: the eCommerce sector.
Now, no one’s saying the initial boom in eCommerce will last forever, but the slew of buyers trying online shopping for the first time goes some way to explaining the massive 68% increase in year-over-year revenue growth that was reported by online U.S. retailers in 2020.
Gearing your store for online holiday sales in 2020-21 taps into the huge well of new eCommerce shoppers that have emerged amidst the pandemic. Let’s take a look at the upcoming holidays to be able to effectively plan that perfect holiday calendar.
II. Top Holidays Every Online Stores Should Be Ready For
In this section, we’ll name the most popular holidays that you might want to gear up for, and some product ideas – which can either be used as your special holiday-themed products to cross-sell and increase your AOV, or as the starting point for your online store – if you are pondering upon riding the wave in the holiday seasons with a dropshipping store.
01. Halloween – 31st October 2020
We start off with a holiday that brilliantly illustrates the strangeness of this brave new world: Halloween, COVID edition! The simple fact of the matter is that the virus is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, and this includes the fall of 2020.
The stalwart products of Halloween – costumes and candy – will almost certainly receive less interest than in previous years. However, spending is likely to be redirected towards things like decorations, simple costumes and activities to deal with children staying at home.
Halloween Product Ideas to Boost Online Holiday Sales
02. Black Friday and Cyber Monday – 27th & 30th November 2020
Regardless of the pandemic, online stores have been revelling in an undeniable advantage over brick and mortar stores for the past few years ‒ no crowds!
Online stores need to prepare for the oncoming surge early, having their store ready by at least the middle of October 2020. This means checking your site speed and simplifying the checkout process among other things to maximise your online holiday sales.
The traditional sectors that do well on Black Friday (computing, tech, jewellery) have an almost inexhaustible amount of accessories that are perfect for dropshipping.
We take a look at some more marketing strategies in depth in chapter 2 of this guide.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday Product Ideas to Boost Online Holiday Sales
03. Christmas and New Year – 25th & 31st December 2020
If Black Friday is the FOMO-fueled heavy metal fest of holiday shopping then Christmas is a slow symphony of shopping. It starts as early as August before building into a crescendo over the last couple of days in December.
Not that Christmas is any new phenomenon; digital stores have been making incredible online holiday sales for years now, all while managing to alleviate the pain of the crowded, last-minute present rush.
You can sell pretty much anything for Christmas, so try to narrow down your products to a specific niche. As always, people all over the world are going to need decorations and Christmas jumpers
Also, as New Year’s Eve house parties are likely to outweigh club nights this year, it’s a great chance to sell party decor and tableware.
Christmas and New Year Product Ideas to Boost Online Holiday Sales
New year’s tableware
04. Valentine’s Day – 14th February 2021
The days where only retailers selling cards, chocolates or flowers profited from Valentine’s Day is long past. An innovative online shop retailer can take advantage of the conscious avoidance of cliched gifts and market a huge range of goods that are becoming increasingly popular year-on-year.
Whether you gear up for the red and white wave of sentimentality, or opt to go with the ever-growing “Anti-Valentine” movement, be sure to stick to a central theme to maximise those romantic holiday sales online!
Generally speaking, you’ll still do well with jewellery, relaxing gifts and plants, but offering a unique spin on these gifts is a great way to establish personality for your store.
Valentine’s Day Product Ideas to Boost Online Holiday Sales
05. St. Patrick’s Day – 17th March 2021
As is the case with many holidays, St. Patrick’s Day depends on scores of people gathering and celebrating together ‒ something that might be impeded by COVID even after more than a year of dealing with the virus.
This means that stores will have to set out differently this time around. There’s no telling right now how the usual revelry of drinking and dancing will fare against the backdrop of a pandemic, but it’s safe to assume there’ll be many more house parties than in previous St Paddy’s Days.
As gifts are pretty much always drink and party-related, you can boost your store’s online holiday sales by prioritising drinkware, decorations and costumes for the home.
St. Patrick’s Day Product Ideas to Boost Online Holiday Sales
St. Patrick’s Day clothing
06. Cinco de Mayo – 5th May 2021
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that is becoming more and more important in the United States, while it has enjoyed steadfast popularity in Mexico itself.
If you’re selling to either of these two countries (primarily to the U.S), you’ll find that your online holiday sales revolve mainly around party supplies
Be wary, because this holiday also presents a number of culturally sensitive pitfalls that could lead to a store being perceived as tone-deaf or out of touch. In chapter 2 we’ll take a deeper look at avoiding those pitfalls when it comes to marketing strategies.
Cinco de Mayo Product Ideas to Boost Online Holiday Sales
07. Mother’s Day – 9th May 2021 (14th March 2021 in UK)
Consumers embrace Mother’s Day and buy into this sentiment without fail. It’s human nature. Who wouldn’t want to do right by the woman who birthed and raised them, right?
It’s exactly this soft spot that online retailers can play into, shaping their marketing strategies to maximise only holiday sales for this day. There’s no reason you can’t do the same through stocking the traditional gifts of jewellery, perfumes, relaxing products and homeware.
Mother’s Day Product Ideas to Boost Online Holiday Sales
Plant nursery box
08. Father’s Day – 20th June 2021 (6th June 2021 in Australia and NZ)
The relative newness of Father’s Day, and by virtue of the wide breadth of dads out there, means that there’s not yet a ‘traditional Father’s Day gift’. Almost anything can be a Father’s Day gift, ranging from sports items and gadgets to experiences and outings.
It might take some creative thinking and a little bit of rebranding to sell your products, but the windfall from your online holiday sales will definitely be worth it. Whatever the biggest sellers on your store are, if you think they’ll work for a middle-aged audience, make it part of your Father’s Day promotion.
Father’s Day Product Ideas to Boost Online Holiday Sales
III. Profiting from Online Holiday Sales ‒ 4 Easy Steps To Keep Up With The Joneses
Now that we’ve looked at some of the most important and profitable holidays coming up this year it’s time to turn our attention to the proper planning that will be needed to be able to profit from those events.
Any effective strategy to profit from online holiday sales basically boils down to 4 easy and executable steps that every digital store should take to ensure they are not left behind for this and next year.
Here, we’ll talk about planning, preparing, executing and tracking your online holiday sales.
Step 1: Planning for Online Holiday Sales
Comprehensive planning is essential to any successful campaign, whether it’s war or just a Google Ads campaign.
The first step you should take is to recap your previous year’s holiday campaign ‒ noting what went well and examining what didn’t work. This will give you precious insights on what is worth redoing, what is worth reexamining and adjusting and what is worth abandoning.
If this is your first-holiday planning session we recommend you sit down and pick 3 or 4 holidays to focus on. Don’t take on more than you can handle, but rather make sure that the holidays you do focus on becoming machines that generate great holiday sales online.
With planning comes the inevitable excitement of thinking up new marketing campaigns. You should know what products or services you want to promote, who you want to target with this promotion and, finally, how you are going to stand out from other online shops doing the same.
We’ll take a closer look at marketing campaigns in Chapter 2.
Questions you should be asking yourself during this phase are:
- What did we do right and what did we do wrong last year?
- How was our campaign timed? (We’ll look at timing in the next section)
- Which platform or channel saw the best return on investment?
- How and where can we improve?
- Where can I set goals and develop strategies to realise those goals?
Step 2: Preparing for Online Holiday Sales
Proper preparation will help you to actualize all of those great ideas you came up with during your planning phase.
If you haven’t already, now would be the step where you set up your eCommerce store. As the world’s number 1 eCommerce solution, Shopify can get your started easily and get you profiting from online holiday sales before you know it. Try them out on a 14-day free trial below.
14 Days Free Trial
Don’t be overwhelmed, check out our beginner’s guide to start selling on Shopify.
Once you’ve got your store up and running, you’ll need to focus on your timing. As we mentioned before, timing is absolutely key to the effective implementation of any plan or strategy. That’s why preparing a comprehensive holiday promotion calendar should be at the top of your to-do list. This calendar should tie back to all the holidays you’ve decided to concentrate on, as well as your set of goals.
To be able to deal with all the strategies for your promotion, it would be well worth it to divide each strategy into 3 key phases:
- Pre-launch: Period during which your business builds up excitement for the coming promotion. This should start at least 2 weeks before the actual launch.
- Launch: The launch of your promotion. It’s always a good idea to couple the limited offer with a countdown timer to help convert that FOMO into cold hard cash.
- Post-launch debriefing & follow-up: This is usually the 3-5 days after your promotion in which you will assess how well it went and follow up any leads that were generated during the promotion.
Now it’s up to you to identify exactly how close to the holiday you want to run your promotion. This depends on the type of product or service you are selling and whether they fit with the type of buyer who’ll make a purchase well before the holiday or those who impulse buy during the peak of the holiday shopping window.
After you’ve figured out all of this, you should turn your attention to any potential pitfalls or pressure points that might derail your campaign.
Remember not to get too bogged down in the products. If it’s your shop that doesn’t convert visits into sales, maybe because of its slow speed or poor navigation, all of your planning work would be for nought and your online holiday sales will really suffer.
You can familiarise yourself with some of the best practices of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) by clicking on the link.
Step 3: Executing Online Holiday Sales
The festivities have begun! It’s officially the holiday season and you need to get your message, consisting of your product and your store, out there.
Big, beautiful landing pages are invaluable at this time. We’ve got loads of practical help on designing the perfect one in chapter 3 – holiday landing page templates – so be sure to check that out.
To fine-tune your landing page template and to make sure your store is ready for the onslaught of online holiday sales, you’ll need a professional page builder. PageFly is the most trusted, highest rated page builder on the Shopify app store, with a simple drag and drop system that makes optimising your store not only easy, but fun. The best part? It’s completely free to use.
If this seems daunting, you can also enlist professional help from a freelance site such as Fiverr. They’ll create your landing page and even your entire store for you, all for a fraction of the price you’ll get from your eCommerce holiday sales.
Once you’ve got a great-looking store, the perfect product and a landing page that links it all together, there’s not much to do but sit back and watch how it all unfolds. This leads us to the final step…
Step 4: Tracking Online Holiday Sales
The battle has started and any military strategist would tell you that a great general is able to adjust their strategy according to what is happening on the battlefield. Well, here, you’re the strategist AND the general.
The tracking stage is all about making adjustments to maximise engagement while the holiday is still happening. To do this, you’ll need to delve into the world of Google Analytics, but don’t worry if this scares you ‒ we’ve prepared a step by step guide to show you how to integrate Google Analytics with Pagefly and exactly how it works.
By implementing this step you’ll be able to track exactly how your pages are performing and be able to swap out those pages that aren’t performing as they should.
If you’ve worked through and completed these four steps, you will be able to run meticulous holiday campaigns and maximize your online holiday sales for years into the future.
But, don’t hit that Publish Page button just yet! It’s time to move on to chapter 2 in which we will look at some brilliant marketing ideas and tips to further boost your sales!