Merchants: Top 4 Items to Review Before Holiday

From meeting your brand goals of multi-channel offerings, to strong personalized targeting, and the never to be forgotten site performance - the facets to review and understand when preparing for the holiday season are endless. And right now is a critical time to start planning and executing various aspects of your holiday planning. This doesn’t necessarily mean a complete website re-design or total back-office overhaul of systems. Instead, build on your existing merchandising and marketing to cater to holiday shoppers, offering them easy-to-find gifts for others (or themselves) with ease and convenience. Echidna calls attention to a few pieces of the digital puzzle to ensure our clients are planning not only for Summer or Fall, but for what many merchants call their bread and butter - holiday shopping season. Here are four hot topics to consider when planning for a strong digital holiday season.

Overall Digital Strategy

You probably already have a long-term roadmap in place, but preparing for holiday is a great time to define your brand’s goals for growth and the seasonal plans to help get you there.  Without a proper strategy in place, it doesn’t matter what type of technology you are using. From understanding your target customers and their key shopping trends, to advertising campaigns that tell a story to and guide their  path to purchase, a comprehensive digital strategy is essential to maximizing your holiday performance.

Shoppers Journey Initiation

If customers don’t know who you are or how to find you when it’s time to make their holiday purchases, you will struggle to realize the seasonal boost that the holidays offer . Don’t skimp when it comes to preparing your digital marketing team for the holiday season. Ensure you site is optimized not just a few weeks before the season, but months before so you can start campaigning (you can even take this quick, free SEO health check). Know what your competitors are doing in terms of digital marketing (social, pay-per-click, storytelling) and even more importantly know what is working well and not so well in terms of digital marketing within your vertical to ensure you build successful holiday focused campaigns.

A couple questions to ask here include:

-Are you where they are looking?

-Are you spending dollars in digital marketing correctly?

Researching these two items will help in creating a strong digital marketing strategy and plan for your team to execute before and during the holiday season.

Customer Journey Mapping

Review the entire end-to-end experience a prospect has with your brand. From where they initially first come in contact with your logo (perhaps advertising or someone's review of your brand on social media), to engaging with your company through the entire buying process, which can be a combination of in person, phone, online or various social channels, and then finally the after purchase engagement. Understanding the customer's entire journey, especially the reason for starting their journey, can be very beneficial in improving overall customer experience. You can read more about common commerce design and user experience mistakes online merchants make in this eBook written by the User Experience team at Echidna.

Preparing for Worst Case Scenarios

Ensuring top site performance and security- this should go unsaid, but make sure your team is prepared for worst case, which in many cases could be best case. Tons of visitors to your site over holiday? Great! But ensure your pages load quickly and your site can handle the expected traffic load for the holidays well before it hits, or holiday delight could quickly turn to disaster. Review and update your security capabilities and the processes you will follow to react to breaches that could jeopardize your business at this most critical time - no one wants their brand to be in the headlines of the news for these wrong reasons.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but a good start to thinking about what is generally an important time for many online merchants. A lot of variables can go into digital holiday planning depending on the size of your organization, where you are at in your digital journey, and overall goals for the holiday season and beyond (i.e.: are you considering a major commerce migration move before or immediately after the season?). Bring on the help of experts as needed- an outsider’s knowledge can make all the difference in many cases. Right now, you can even request a complimentary commerce Strategy session from Echidna.  To discuss your plans, questions, and goals for the upcoming holiday season, simply fill out this form, and we’d be happy to provide advice and assistance to help you maximize the results of your efforts.