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Shopify Experts Share 6 Critical Ecommerce Store Updates To Make Before The Holidays

For the vast majority of online stores, the holiday season is the biggest sales period of the year.

With more shoppers coming to your store, every mistake on your site is magnified. If you don’t fix them in time, you’ll give first-time customers a poor shopping experience, potentially costing you a lot of money.

We rounded up some of the top Shopify Experts and asked them for their advice on how ecommerce stores can best prep for the upcoming holiday period. We also asked them for the best Shopify apps that can help you implement their tips and recommendations.

Let’s begin:

 

1. Simplify the gift-buying shopping experience

In the next few weeks, shoppers are coming to your store with a problem: they need to buy holiday gifts. They’re probably even a bit stressed out that they have a holiday shopping list. As Kurt Elster from Ethercycle notes, during the holiday season, shoppers are in “wallet-out” mode. They’re ready to spend on gifts.

Help your shoppers — and increase your sales — by making their gift-buying experience as simple as possible. Make it easy to find holiday gift items. Reduce the amount of decisions they have to make.

Use product bundles and groupings to to streamline your shoppers’ buying process:

Create some product bundles that are only for Christmas. Not only are these great gift ideas but their limited availability incentivizes purchases.

– Joe Flanagan, Shopify Builder

Help your shoppers make decisions. Create collections like “Dad’s gifts”, “Teenager gifts”, “Boyfriend/girlfriend gifts” and so on. You can even add group gifts by price, like “Dad gifts under $50″ and “Dad gifts above $100” — set up your store so it’s easy to choose.

– Kristaps Lazda, Crisp

Gift cards are also another way to make it easy for the shopper:

avatar-wemakewebsites_jpgBegin offering holiday gift cards. This works great if your store sells personal items like underwear, where the buyer may not be 100% comfortable they can choose the right item.

– Alex O’Byrne, WeMakeWebsites

Relevant Shopify apps recommended by Shopify Experts:

  1. Product Bundles by Bold Apps
  2. Unlimited Upsell by Spur-i-t
  3. Product Discount by Bold Apps

 

2. Let shoppers know you’re ready to help ASAP

Buying gifts online can be nerve-wracking, especially when you can’t touch or handle the item until after you’ve purchased it and it’s been delivered. Well-prepared stores anticipate this common anxiety and put measures in place to help shoppers.

Consider adding online chat just for the festive period.

– Alex O’Byrne, WeMakeWebsites

Most of the Shopify Experts we interviewed recommended installing live online chat software or displaying a phone number clearly on your site. At the very least, commit to being online more and shortening your response time to customer emails.

By being more available, you’ll increase conversions and build loyalty as customers learn they can trust you to be there when they need help.

Relevant Shopify apps recommended by Shopify Experts:

  1. Olark Live Chat + CartSaver by Olark
  2. Zopim Live Chat by Zopim

 

3. Grow your email list, build excitement, increase sales

Email is one of the most powerful channels you have as a store owner, especially if you’ve been steadily growing your list all year.

Here’s Galen King from Lucid Design on the importance of using your customer list properly:

avatar-lucidStore owners can engage with customers on a more personal level by using richly segmented lists. Integrating Shopify with email newsletters is an excellent way for connecting with existing customers.

– Galen King, Lucid Design

If you haven’t built an email list, Kurt Elster from Ethercycle advises to start now to prepare for the holidays:

avatar-ethercycle_jpgBuild your email list. It’s important to build excitement, especially before Black Friday. Be specific about why they should join by focusing on benefits: “Join us as we share incredible Black Friday deals, exclusive finds, and holiday survival tips.” Use a pop-up window to invite customers to join.

– Kurt Elster, Ethercycle

Elster follows with a strong endorsement for Klaviyo, an email marketing tool for ecommerce stores:

avatar-ethercycle_jpgFor email marketing in Shopify, there is no better app than Klaviyo. Behind PPC ads, my clients have made more with Klaviyo than any other marketing channel.

– Kurt Elster, Ethercycle

Relevant Shopify apps recommended by Shopify Experts:

  1. Klaviyo Email Marketing by Klaviyo
  2. Campaignified by Lucid Design

 

4. Set up abandoned cart recovery to recapture lost conversions

When people begin their frenetic online holiday shopping, you may start seeing your cart abandonment rate start to climb. As we’ve discussed in our article about shopping cart abandonment, there’s a variety of reasons why people will quit in the middle of their buying experience.

Assume that your abandonment metric will climb during the holidays and take proactive measures to keep it down. Lazda recommends Shopify users to activate an important feature that will help:

avatar-crispShopify has a nice feature in their Professional plan which sends a reminder email to customers who have abandoned their cart for whatever reason. Make sure to activate this feature and set up a nice email template, as it will increase your conversion rates by 10-15%.

– Kristaps Lazda, Crisp

Read more about Shopify’s abandoned cart recovery feature.

 

5. Prepare your shipping and logistics for the holidays

Having smart strategies for shipping and logistics is always important, but especially so during the holiday season. Without the right planning, a surge in orders or returns can overwhelm your store, especially if you’re a small operation.

It’s critical to prepare your shipping plans and processes — you can better serve time-constrained customers, make things run smoothly, and even find opportunities to increase your revenues:

avatar-wemakewebsites_jpgIf you don’t already offer premium next day shipping, try it over the festival period. This is a also great way to boost your margins.

– Alex O’Byrne, WeMakeWebsites

Having a generous holiday return policy could also make shoppers more likely to purchase:

avatar-wemakewebsites_jpgConsider extending your returns period to cover buyers’ concerns that their gift will not be well received on the big day.

– Alex O’Byrne, WeMakeWebsites

If you don’t keep any physical stock on hand, here’s how to plan for that:

avatar-shopifybuilderIf you are dropshipping, try to keep some physical stock for any rush of orders that may even surprise your dropshipper. This way, you can reduce the chance of customer complaints, as you’ll be able to send products out in emergencies.

– Joe Flanagan, Shopify Builder

You can also reduce shoppers’ anxiety and support email volume by installing apps that take care of package tracking:

avatar-ethercycle_jpgTake your customer service to the next level with AfterShip. The premium version will watch the tracking number and send automated follow-ups to customers about delivery status.

– Kurt Elster, Ethercycle

Relevant Shopify apps recommended by Shopify Experts:

  1. AfterShip by AfterShip

 

6. Create connections: remember that it’s time for giving gifts

Amidst all your preparation in the run-up to your biggest sale season of the year, don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s the season of giving. As such, it’s a great opportunity to create a real, human connection with your shoppers:

avatar-crispYour clients will be so much more happy and will be much more eager to share the shopping experience with their friends and on social media site if you will thrown in that “little something” with their order. Be it a candybar, a small christmas decor or a handwritten personal Christmas card (!).

Additional coupon code with discount for next purchase is a good idea … but won’t get you that exposure and personal connection. Giving a gift that someone can touch and feel puts you in a class of your own.

– Kristaps Lazda, Crisp

 

Conclusion

Most of the above tips can be applied to any ecommerce platform, but moreso if you’re on Shopify.

The Shopify app store is a great place to find tools and services that can help you prepare for the holiday season. Even if you’re not on Shopify, you can browse their app store to look for tools that can help your business.

Many companies create apps for several shopping platforms. For example, ReferralCandy has an app on the Shopify app store, but also supports 20 other shopping platforms.

Here’s to a good holiday shopping season for all!

What other critical fixes can you share? Let’s hear it in the comments.

Thanks again to the Shopify Experts who contributed to this post:

David Fallarme

David Fallarme is a Marketing Director at ReferralCandy. He specializes in helping people make charts go up and to the right. Also karaoke.

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