Jerek Justus

In 2014, Holiday eCommerce sales in the U.S. topped $100 billion – a milestone that outpaces the industry’s 2013 digital retail performance by 15%, and sends a clear signal to marketers everywhere:

This Holiday season, your site is going to experience significant spikes in activity, driven by seasonal search interests & micro-trends. Hidden within their search behavior is valuable information about what, specifically, your customers are looking for, how they found you, where they’re coming from, and why they left.

Your customers will visit your digital storefront, their desktops, tablets, phones, as well as check every channel you have for the best answers and holiday deals they can find.

Is your site ready to absorb that kind of exposure? Will your customers find the content you’ve prepared for the season? Get your site ready now with some points from our checklist below:

/ Site Structure:

Long-term design vs. temporary construction: There’s a natural tension that shows up when it’s time to update your site’s navigational hierarchy and feature your holiday collection. Do you disrupt the site’s main navigation by adding new categories? Do you even have room to do so? What happens when it’s time to bring that content down, and you’re still in a code freeze?
When planning where your holiday content will live on the site, your first obligation is to the customer experience and your brand. The second ought to be to the longevity of this content for your site’s long-term growth plans. The holidays come back at the same time every year, and it’s a pretty safe bet that the design choices you make today will not only shape the shopping experience of your customers next year, but will also impact the relevance of your brand for the types of searches that drive customers to your store in the years to come. Include dynamic components in your URL structure and page templates today that can be repurposed quickly to better preserve the long-term value of these pages.

Be a good host: Throughout the holiday season your site will experience unpredictable spikes in activity, and most hosting providers are prepared to handle intermittent surges like this. If you are expecting an abnormal amount of traffic (corresponding with a special promotional period, shipping offer, brand campaign, or holiday weekend), it’s best to proactively alert your hosting provider so they can allocate additional bandwidth to keep your site from crashing.

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(Source: coffeecup.com)

If your site does crash? Take the opportunity to own that experience with your customer. A temporary problem doesn’t have to cost your business a customer… if handled correctly.

Streamline your content delivery: The best way to prevent your site from crashing, your shoppers from leaving in frustration, and many other types of conversion killers is to optimize your site’s speed. Google’s PageSpeed Tools is a great resource for webmasters to evaluate a site’s performance, identify problems, and follow best practices to fix the issues, all in one handy testing environment. Take a moment to test your site and see if it passes!

Secure the valuables: No one wants to get that phone call explaining why all your customers’ credit card and billing information is now open to the public domain. Take the appropriate steps now to secure sensitive information on your site and minimize your exposure to fraudulent activity:

  • Prevent search engines from crawling and indexing User Accounts and Checkout pages
  • Use a secure connection for online checkout and make sure you are PCI compliant
  • Require strong passwords for gated User Accounts
  • Display security certification badges for additional customer peace of mind

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(Source: https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0004/5279/Ecommerce_trustmarks_tested.png)

More to be released on this important topic in October. Stay tuned!