The countdown to Christmas is on! With just 42 days to Christmas, retailers need to get set to capitalize on the festive season by ensuring their products get noticed by Christmas shoppers.
If you haven’t finalized your Christmas preparations, then there’s no time to lose. Answer our nine festive e-commerce questions to verify you’ve covered all bases. Then let the shopping begin!
- How Visible Are You on Marketplaces? SEO isn’t limited to Google. You also need to make sure you’re visible on marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. Are your product titles optimized and the correct length? Are your products housed under the correct category so customers can drill down to find you? Have you used the best search terms, images and descriptions so that you’re encouraging consumers to buy from you? Take the time to review these components to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward on marketplaces.
- Have You Considered More Marketplaces? Amazon and eBay are the obvious marketplaces to list on, but don’t overlook other third-party marketplaces to gain extra exposure this Christmas. You could sell on Rakuten in the UK, Zalando or Allyouneed in Germany, Jet in the US or Trade Me in New Zealand. If you find the prospect of new marketplaces daunting right now, be sure to add these to your 2016 to-do list and begin researching now.
- Do You Have Good Credentials? Good ratings on marketplaces will earn you increased visibility in eBay’s Best Match search results and ensure you retain your Amazon seller privileges. Aim for Top Rated Seller status on eBay and keep your metrics up to scratch on Amazon to help you increase your visibility.
- Do You Have a Plan to Ramp Up PPC? Review last year’s pay-per-click (PPC) performance and identify the keywords that performed well. Begin gradually ramping up campaigns well before Christmas to ensure that keywords that performed well from last year are not paused. If you’re a ChannelAdvisor customer, you can use the Seasonal Bid Adjuster to help you bid up or down appropriately.
- Is Your Fulfillment Strategy in Order? Fulfillment was a big topic during last year’s festive frenzy in the US, with customers expecting convenient and economical delivery options. Offer as many delivery options as you can — this will help you capture customers looking for convenient options and those looking for value. For example, you could offer standard two- to three-day delivery and a same-day or one-day dispatch if you can. You could also consider using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) for your most popular products, which would enable you to capture Prime consumers right up to Christmas. In the US, the last Prime Now order delivered in time for Christmas last year was placed on Christmas Eve at 10:24 p.m. and delivered at 11:06 p.m.
- Can Your Infrastructure Cope? Are you ready for the traffic peak that will come before Christmas? Many websites crashed, and systems were under immense pressure during peak days last year, so prepare well in advance. Consider spreading out discounts across a number of days if you want to avoid that surge in traffic.
- Are You Communicating with Customers? Do you have a social media plan in place that promotes upcoming sales, discounts and offers? Are your listings updated to highlight the final cut-off point for orders guaranteed before Christmas? What’s your returns policy? Making sure customers are informed and engaged should not only help with your sales, but also help you avoid any uncertainty about delivery times and take some pressure off your customer service team, who are likely to get these questions a lot!
- Are You Set Up for Extra Returns? Returns rates can be high after Christmas, so make sure you can deal with the extra workload. Check out what the returns policies are on marketplaces, too. For example, eBay expects sellers to offer an extended 90-day returns window so people can return unwanted gifts in the new year (which would give buyers until January 31 to return anything bought online between November 1 and December 31).
- Are You Prepared for Black Friday? Looking purely at online and e-commerce sales, shoppers spent $2.4 billion on Black Friday 2014— and this year the discount event is expected to be even more popular.
We hope you found these questions useful in preparing for the festive frenzy! Remember that time is of the essence, so make sure you have your Christmas preparations finalized ASAP. To learn more about what consumers are expecting in the run-up to Christmas, why not download our 5 Consumer Trends Retailers Need to Know About eBook?