The holiday season is upon us, and with it is the flurry of early shoppers — and the aftermath, the last-minute shoppers. While it may be chaotic to get all orders processed and delivered by the time Christmas Eve rolls around, you need to be prepared to ensure that you maximize the holiday rush.

With the different preferences of the shoppers, your approach has to vary to ensure that you don’t alienate any of them. However, how can you balance your approach to target all groups?

While it may be impossible to please everyone, here are some foolproof tips to prepare your website for the holiday rush.

   •   Know your audience.

You should do your research before the holiday rush kicks off. You have to know your target market and get to know your consumers. A popular method is the “A day in the life of” to get to know your consumer. For example, how do your usual customers spend their day? By studying their habits, you will know when is the best time to advertise to them. Likewise, you will also know the kind of deals that would appeal to them the most.

 •    Kickstart your SEO and CRO.

If you’re just starting your SEO campaign today, you are a little late to the game and you should do better next year. A proper SEO campaign needs time to work; it has to gain traction for you to reap the rewards come the holiday season. With this, you also need to consider your conversion rate optimization program (CRO). Once the new tidbits of your website are in place, you have to ensure that all items work as they are indeed to. Which brings us to…

 •    Optimize your website.

When we say optimize your website, we don’t mean create a new website right now. You should never do that so close to the holiday season. Rather, what you should do is to work with what you have now. For starters, you can do the following:

   Have a holiday-themed design

This is very simple and attractive, for the reason that holiday designs can get people in the mood to shop more. By showing that your website is designed for the holiday, they will get the idea that you are taking the event seriously and would, therefore, be able to provide good value for their money.

o     Have holiday-themed deals

As we mentioned above, the deals that you’re offering should add value to your customers. For instance, do not offer them deals that they’re likely to get elsewhere. Rather, play on your strengths and show them how valuable their business is to you. So if all your competitors are selling branded t-shirts, take it up a notch and sell personalized shirts.

o    Think mobile

A large percentage of online shoppers complete their transactions on mobile. In fact, Apple just sold their billionth iPhone — just imagine that number browsing on their mobile for the latest deals! That being said, it would be in your best interests to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. We’re not just talking about changing the screen resolution to fit your device’s screen – rather, this is about optimizing everything so that all the nooks and crannies of your website work on mobile. All buttons are responsive; all the choices are available. Going mobile should not be a hindrance for your customers to find you. Rather, it should be a stepping stone to them purchasing more.

•     Exhaust your server

One of the things you should do to ensure that your customers have a positive experience is to test your website thoroughly and see if your server can handle the sudden spike in traffic. There have been numerous cases of interactive websites only to fail at the last minute because it could not handle the traffic. You will need to increase the bandwidth to make sure your site can accommodate the extra shoppers, so talk to your web host about it as soon as possible.

•     Beef up your online staff

While the majority of e-commerce websites provide the live chat function, not all of them offer it 24/7. During the holiday rush, make sure that you add more people manning the live chat function so that they can help shoppers find what they need as soon as possible. Remember, the sooner a customer completes a purchase, the sooner your staff can attend to other customers. The same rule applies to online stores.

If you don’t have the budget to hire full-time staff for holiday work, then make sure that you outsource the work to a vendor you know and trust. There is nothing more infuriating for a business owner than finding out that customers are leaving the website with no items because they couldn’t find what they are looking for, or that the agents who are working the line were of no help to them at all.

•     Strengthen your security

One of the most pressing issues among online shoppers is the security of their data. You have to reassure them that shopping on your website is a safe and pleasurable experience. To do this, you have to make sure that you are affiliated with all the right merchants, such as PayPal so that they can pay with a method they recognize. Also, harp on the fact that your website has an SSL certificate. The green padlock on the browser bar right next to your URL is a telltale sign of security, too.

•     Remember deadlines – and with that, the pressure

You have to be upfront about your deadlines. Cut off shopping at a certain period if you feel that you cannot deliver the items before Christmas morning. That, or make sure that your customers know that some of the items may arrive late if they shop late. By being transparent about your limitations, you would be protecting your business from irate customers – and not to mention, the stresses of telling people why their package didn’t arrive on Christmas morning if they just ordered it the night before.

Optimizing your website for the holiday rush is not just a good thing to do — it is a necessity. With these tips, you are hopefully on your way to getting a robust holiday-themed website that can withstand the holiday rush.

Need to optimize your website for the holiday season?

Tis the season to re-optimize your website! Help your business reflect its seasonal goals and strategies with F22 Internet Solutions. If you need help re-kickstarting your SEO strategies and redesigning your website for the holidays, don’t hesitate to contact us at 843-475-2938 to request a free quote.