In episode 155 of our podcast, I chat with two guests. Topher DeRosia from BigCommerce and TJ Gamble via his eCommerce agency, Jamesan, as well as eCommerceAholic.
We dive into both long-term and short-term prepping for the holidays and chat about:
- When you should start prepping for the big holiday season.
- At his point in time, what should you be looking at in both the backend and the frontend of your online store.
- How to garner fans and customers to help you with your Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.
- Some tips for the two days prior to Black Friday.
- Their top tip for getting your store ready for the holiday season.
Some insights from TJ and Topher
Getting started on the holiday plans
You have to understand this is the most important time of year. This is where a lot of merchants, depending on what you’re selling, depending on your customers, a lot of people from now till the end of the year do over 50% of their sales. So with that being so important, it’s smart to have a strategy that takes these customers that are coming for a deal where you don’t make a high margin on them but turn them into long-term customers.
They should start immediately right after the holidays for the next year. But most of them don’t. They get in and around July started thinking, Oh no, it’s almost time. But the more years you do it, the better you get at it and the more infrastructure you have.
Some backend final touches
Test everything. Review all of your email texts, make sure everything is spelled right. Try sending a test email and make sure it’s going out properly. Do transactions.
If you’re doing millions of dollars in sales, that preparation is gonna look a lot different than if you’re doing thousands of dollars in sales. Have a backup plan for anything that could catastrophicallygo wrong.
Depending on your risk tolerance, you need to be prepared for every possible scenario.
Look at history. You’ve probably been doing this for more than one year. What happened last year? Did they go down? How did you recover all that stuff? Do some research on where you are now and do that same research on wherever you might need to move.
Some frontend final touches
All the time they’re checking it on desktop. They’re not checking it on mobile, even though 70% of their traffic’s on mobile.
If you’re doing something complicated with cross sells and upsells and you’re trying to get the most out of those customers, those things can be tricky sometimes to make sure they work right.
In the U.S., we typically think of Black Friday, Christmas, things like that. But there are other holidays to test on. You can test the load of your site on Easter and get prepared for other holidays. Holidays happen all the time. Load happens all the time and they can be as big a deal as you want to make them.
Asking fans and customers to help you promote
You can segment your audience, whether it’s your fans and you’re trying to enable them. Understand their motivation all the way down through your customers or someone that you have in your database: knowing how you found them, what they’re interested in and segmenting the message that you’re sending to them to get the most impact is absolutely something that you have to do as a business to try to get the most out of the people you interact with.
One of the Holy grails of eCommerce is a passionate customer base. Once you get your customers excited about what you’re doing and they start talking to their friends about it, then you have a free marketing team basically. That’s something that takes a long time to build up.
Two days before Black Friday
It’s just double and triple checking at that point, right? Make sure everything is in order. All your contingencies are in place. Go through every single scenario you can possibly walk through and make sure you’re prepared for it.
Final holiday store prep tip
Acquiring a customer during the holidays, it’s a great time. A lot of people are buying. So it’s easier to acquire customers during this time period, but you really need to tie in your holiday strategy with your long-term strategy to do what you can to make sure you’re getting the most out of that customer acquisition.
Read stuff on the internet. People have been dealing with the holidays for many, many years. There are new things that come up every year, but the rush is there every year. There are people that have solved this and there is a lot of great stuff on the internet
Where to find Topher
On Twitter @topher1kenobe
Where to find TJ
On Twitter @ecommerceaholic
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