How to get your ecommerce store ready for the holidays

Sep 27 2021 | PayPal Editorial Staff

The holidays can be the biggest shopping time of the year for many retail businesses. However, in 2020, the global pandemic and lockdowns kept many shoppers at home and forced retailers to rethink their holiday plans, moving their business online.
This sparked massive growth for ecommerce across the globe— particularly on Black Friday. For example, in Brazil, sales increased 25%1 compared to 2019. While in the U.S., sales increased 22.0% to $8.92 billion2. Even in Japan, where Black Friday has only recently begun to gain traction, 24.0% of internet users made purchases3 during Black Friday.
Now, with the holidays right around the corner, it’s time to get your online store ready for this year’s holiday rush. However, to become shoppers’ go-to for gifts, you need to make the shopping experience easy, flexible and include options that suit their needs.
In this guide, we’re looking at the essential things you need to help get your online store ready for the holiday rush.

1. Get your commerce engine ready
One of the most important things you can do is ensure your website loads fast. Shoppers are visiting multiple websites to find the best deals and that one perfect gift for that special someone. So, you want to make sure they don’t get impatient and leave before your site even has time to load.
If you find your site is slow, start by measuring Google’s Core Web Vitals. That will give you an idea of where to start to improve. For instance, you might have a large image that’s taking too long to load, so you can easily swap it for a smaller, re-sized version.
Also, make sure that your ecommerce platform can handle the influx of traffic. BigCommerce had 100% uptime during the Cyber 5 for the last seven years4. If you’re not sure about your provider’s coverage, reach out to customer service and check.

2. Create a visually appealing storefront
As with many things in life, looks matter. Especially, when it comes to your website. You want to present the best version of your site to shoppers.
And while it might be tempting to add as many products as you can to your homepage, you’re likely much better off focusing on a clean design with high-quality, eye-catching images.
Also, think about how you’re going to categorize your products. Make it as intuitive and easy to navigate as possible. Are you offering special holiday deals on best sellers? Then, think about adding that as a category to your top-level navigation, as well as on your homepage.
Perhaps most importantly, make sure your theme is optimized for mobile since 84.5% of shoppers5 make at least one purchase a month on their mobile device.
BigCommerce offers a fully responsive design for desktop, mobile and tablets — plus with our Page Builder, you can customize and manage storefront attributes without having to dive into the code.

3. Adopt a variety of promotions
Many shoppers look for a deal during the holidays, so now’s the time to come up with several options to keep them engaged all season long. Here are some of our suggestions for what you can try:
●      Upsell with digital gift cards for spending a certain amount.
●      Offer seasonal services, such as free gift wrapping.
●      Build urgency with daily coupon codes or windows for free shipping.
●      Implement a loyalty or rewards program.
The best part about this time of year is that it’s a chance to have fun and get creative with your deals so that you’re really taking advantage of the holiday themes.
4. Optimize your checkout experience
To ensure shoppers convert to customers, focus on your checkout experience. One thing to do is simplify the checkout process so that it all happens on one page. This can make it easier for those shopping on mobile devices to complete their purchase quickly.
Also, if you typically require a login, think about enabling guest checkout. On the other hand, if you don’t have a login option, add one. This way repeat customers can save their information for faster checkout next time.
Additionally, provide several payment options. For instance, you should consider offering buy now, pay later (BNPL) solutions, like PayPal Pay Later. In our 2021 Consumer Spending Trends report, we found that 46% of shoppers said they’ve used BNPL at least once in the past three months — with 10.1% saying they used it 5 or more times6.

Wrapping Up
Now’s the time to start preparing for the influx of holiday shoppers. By creating an experience that entices shoppers and offers a smooth path to purchase can help ensure they’ll select your ecommerce store over the competition.
For more in-depth information on holiday readiness, check out our 2021 Guide to Preparing Your Ecommerce Store for Holiday Magic.
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.
1 Statista. November 2020. “Sales revenue generated from online shopping on Black Friday in Brazil from 2013 to 2020.”
2 eMarketer. Feb 17, 2021. “US Holiday 2020 Review and Holiday 2021 Preview,”
3 eMarketer. Dec 22, 2020. “Black Friday is growing in popularity in Japan, but the shopping event differs from the US in notable ways,”
4 BigCommerce. December 2020. “2020 Cyber Week Trends Report: A Record-Setting Year for Ecommerce Holiday Sales.”

5, 6 BigCommerce and PayPal Zettle. June 2021. “2021 Consumer Spending Trends: An Omnichannel Report.”

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