It’s that time of year once again when our minds move to maximizing sales and serving the mass of holiday shoppers our website will be serving. I write one of these posts every year to help you prepare, market and maximize your holiday sales season.

Preparing for Holiday Shopping

Here is a pretty helpful list of things to check, secure and generally optimize to make sure your company, website and customer service are all shored up and ready to bust out the best sales numbers of the year.

Remember, that although “Black Friday” is generally known as a physical shopping day you will still see increased sales. Many retailers are controlling the masses of people flooding their brick and mortar storefronts with special holiday bonuses, sales and deals for shopping online.

From “Black Friday” you move in to “Cyber Monday”, which is your day as ecommerce owners. “Cyber Monday” is the day that shoppers shop from work to get holiday bargains and things they need for the gift giving season. Note that the biggest time of the day you will see traffic is lunchtime EST. While many shop on the clock, many more will eat at their desk shopping away their lunch hour.

Being prepared for these sales is certainly no joke and requires that you put forth extra effort and planning to be successful. Here is a list to get your brain juices flowing.

  • Check your website for broken links (http://validator.w3.org/checklink)
  • Place several orders on your website. Check the flow, ease and function in FireFox, IE and Chrome browsers.
  • Check that there are no “broken lock” errors for your SSL pages in your checkout. (http://pro-webs.net/blog/2009/08/26/ecommerce-checkout-suicide/)
  • Contact information on your website is prominent, easy to find and use.
  • Shipping fees, holiday shipping schedule and return policy are clearly stated in the simplest manner possible, with high visibility.
  • Special sales, coupons and shipping campaigns clearly posted.
  • All specials for each sale are in place and any product data feeds (such as Google Shopping) are up to date.
  • Check your bandwidth (transfer) use for the month and make certain your hosting account has enough to cover a 100% increase.
  • Check that you have ample products in stock and ready to ship.
  • If you are using an API such as USPS, FedEx or UPS to deliver shipping quotes make certain that you have a standard table, flat or zone rate turned off but configured for use if the API for your carrier fails. This has happened in the past and can be down for days.
  • Check with your processing gateway to make certain that daily and transaction limits are going to be adequate for the increased sales. We certainly don’t want to lose sales because we have done to much sales in a day!
  • Make sure you have ample staff to handle calls and emails.
  • Ready to ship? Don’t wait, start shipping order