The festive period can absolutely be make or break for eCommerce businesses, especially new start ups who are trying to establish a reputation and a loyal customer base. Success during this period can help you transition into a good year, so it's critical to get it right. With the growth in online shopping showing no signs of slowing down, Christmas looks set to be a bumper period for businesses that get it right. If you haven't started with your Christmas sales strategy, you're already somewhat behind, as customers start their gift buying during October, but there is still time to turn it around if you act now.

Focus On User Experience

Customers on the Web can be a very unforgiving crowd, and if they don't find what they are looking for within a few second of hitting your homepage, you have effectively lost the sale. A year round focus on user experience and website development is a must and should leave you in a better position to just make a few incremental improvements for the Christmas shopping season. Slower loading times, unclear navigation and complicated registration processes will all have impatient shoppers abandoning their carts no matter how great your product offering or competitive your pricing. Prepare in advance for additional traffic demands on your site to avoid a slowdown, and look at strategies such as introducing new categories such as ‘Christmas gifts for Grandma’ to help customers down the sales funnel, and introducing a guest checkout facility that takes minimal time, or allow shoppers to login with social media account details instead. A large percentage of sales will be done on mobile and tablet devices, so having a responsive website design is absolutely critical, now more than ever.

Get Your Stock Right

Of course, all the work to optimise your site will be lost if your stock list is not up to scratch. Inventory management over the festive period is hugely important. If it's your first Christmas retailing and you are unsure of stock quantities, a general guide is that retailers tend to shift four times as much stock as in a normal quarter. Think about what you already have as well and whether you could combine items to great gift sets or offer product bundles. Promoting add on items also makes sense to drive up the average transaction value, or you may want to offer items in Christmas gift wrap for an extra charge.

Ramp Up Your Marketing

Finally, with the basic pillars under control, it's the time to ramp up your advertising to drive more customers to the site. Increase your Google AdWords spend and target some festive shopping keywords, reach out to influences in your target demographic and offer samples in return for promotion. You should also look at developing a strong set of promotional emails to your existing customer base, as well as ramping up your social media engagement to showcase your best deals.

This is an article provided by our partners network. It might not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of our editorial team and management.
Contributed content