The end of summer is near, and as many people head out on their final vacations, now is the time for eCommerce merchants to start getting ready for the holiday season ahead. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still a few months away, they will be here before you know it, with projections showing an even more optimistic outlook for this year’s profits versus last.
So, with this mind, what are some key things merchants can do now to ensure success later? Below we discuss four areas that should be addressed in preparation for the upcoming holidays.
Security should be an important component of your site year-round, but the holidays are primetime for theft. Like with most attacks, holiday hacks are often crimes of opportunity, so do your site a favor by taking it out of the low hanging fruit category early. While there are certain features that are non-negotiable, implementing additional features like SSL encryption and third party vulnerability scanning can make a huge difference. Site security audits in advance can help owners find and patch any potential weaknesses before they become backdoors for cybercriminals.
Aside from the backend benefits, adding additional confidence elements like trustmarks will help improve how your site is perceived. We’ve discussed previously how important trust can be to sales, and by utilizing trustmarks, merchants can keep customers safe as well as improve conversions for both desktop and mobile shoppers. There is more competition than ever, so when consumers are deciding where to do their holiday shopping, make it a point to showcase security.
SEO and Product Descriptions
Before letting the masses of holiday shoppers browse through your site, take the time to assess the quality of product descriptions and photos. Whether you are a mega-brand or a mom-and-pop eCommerce storefront, compelling content and product information is crucial for turning more browsers into buyers. Crisp, clean layouts on product pages can really make your merchandise stand out.
Additionally, keep some basic SEO best practices in mind when drafting headlines and descriptions in order to extend the reach of your content. Start by making sure that every page has unique metadata in terms of page title and page description in order to help improve search engine positioning. Additionally, when creating page content remember to keep it unique and try to avoid repeating key terms too many times.
With the increased holiday traffic, it is crucial to make sure your site is up to the challenge in advance. Make sure your Domain, Web hosting, SSL and Merchant Accounts are all up to date—so that there aren’t any surprises later on. For faster load times, explore using a CDN (content delivery network) provider to help manage increased international traffic as well as video and image heavy pages.
Additionally, try to minimize the number of 404 errors as these will serve as major deterrents for shoppers to stay on your site during the holiday rush. For those that do remain, make sure they suggest alternatives and link back to key pages on your site.
There’s no doubt that mobile commerce is going to play a huge role in the 2013 holiday shopping season. A recent Baynote survey found that retailers expect mobile transactions to account for a significant part of their holiday revenue this year. So make sure that your website is optimized for consumers shopping via smartphones and tablets. The majority of users expect mobile performance levels to be on par with their desktop counterparts, with almost 50% never returning to a poorly performing site.
One of the keys to a successful mobile site is simplicity. Because mobile screens are smaller and harder to navigate, it’s important to have a clean interface and to only provide essential information on each page. Use as little form fields as possible and create an easy scrolling experience. Remember, many mobile users are desktop shoppers at an earlier stage of the transaction, so make sure their initial experience is good so that they continue on to your main site for the final purchase.
For more holiday eCommerce best practices, check out our other guide here.
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