Unless you have unlimited time and resources, a major part of your holiday planning is going to consist of prioritization. You can’t do everything, but you can make sure you get the high-impact areas right. In this post we’re going to cover 6 tips that will help you get maximum return on your holiday preparation.

Tip #1: Identify Your Top-Performing Products

The holiday season can generate up to 40% of an online retailer’s annual sales, meaning the sales of your most popular products are going to be amplified. Look at your sales data from last year’s holiday season, as well as more recent data, to determine which products are key revenue-generators. Focusing your holiday planning around top-selling items will help you make the most of your resources.

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Tip #2: Make Your Product Detail Pages Sparkle

Once you’ve zeroed in on your top selling products, take a close look at the product detail pages for these items. Do they stand out? Images are critical here. Curalate has done some great research on which images get pinned most, consider it your best practice guide for creating share-worthy images. Some of it may surprise you – such as the fact that brand images without faces are much more widely-shared than images with faces, likely because this puts the spotlight directly where it belongs: on the product.

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Why are images without faces shared more often than images with faces? http://ow.ly/A4XTj pic.twitter.com/bBaPpbjjpe

Tip #3: Deck Out Your “No Results Found” and 404 Pages

Showing a “No Results Found” page after searching on a website, or a 404 page through a broken link is always a missed opportunity, but especially during the holidays. You know your top-selling products and you know people are looking for gift guides and ideas. Use this knowledge to put these key pages to work. Deck out your “No Results Found” and 404 pages with helpful suggestions to drive people towards what they’re probably looking for.

This example by eMusic does a great job of putting the “No Results Found” page to work. They admit to coming up empty, but don’t miss a beat in keeping the visitor engaged with additional options.

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Tip #4: Hang Some Tinsel on Your Navigation

The navigational structure on your website is a powerful merchandising tool. Check out the Everlane example below. Everlane uses their navigation to move visitors toward products they might want based on seasonality (i.e., “Summer Travel”). For the holidays you can easily apply this tactic to your own site.

Everlane

Take your navigation structure beyond the bare-bones listing of your product categories. Add options like “Gifts for Him” or “Most Popular Gifts” to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find what they’re looking for.

Tip #5: Spread Some Cross-Selling Cheer

When a customer visits your site looking for a holiday gift, your product detail pages should be ready with helpful suggestions. You can suggest bundling products (i.e. suggest a matching belt to someone viewing a pair of dress shoes). Or show the same item pre-packaged together with other items as a gift-set. It’s probably not feasible to update every product detail page with appropriate cross/up-selling suggestions, so once again, focus attention on your top-sellers.

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Looking for some simple tricks to increase holiday order value? http://ow.ly/A4XTj pic.twitter.com/kUuyFQ57te

If you find that cross-sell and up-sell options are increasing average order value, you’ll probably want to automate some of the work. Tools like Conductrics, Evergage, and SLI Systems can help you do product bundling at scale.

Tip #6: Seasonalize Your Message

Around the holidays, gift-giving is top on your customer’s minds. Your messaging should reflect this. According to Walter Blake, Founder/CMO of bocandy.com and bojerky.com:

We pose everything as a gift. We want to make sure every single customer knows why a subscription to our product is an amazing gift that anybody will love. I focus on how our product will bring the gift recipient ongoing happiness as well as the ease of giving the gift. This is a basic tip, but it works.

Messages like “great for Dad!” and “make her wish come true!” act as signage to lead visitors to the part of the store most relevant for them. Additionally, messages like “free shipping” and “get it by [date]!” immediately address questions that are top-of-mind for holiday shoppers. Holiday shoppers are looking for convenience, make sure your messaging supports that. Be clear in showing them that you offer the full package!

Bonus Tip: Ring in the Mobile Era

Consumer attention is steadily shifting towards mobile. By the end of 2014, mobile commerce is expected to be a $114 billion market. In 2013, mobile commerce accounted for 13% of all spending throughout the holiday shopping season, and purchases on tablets grew 14% year/year. Take a look at your mobile traffic from the last holiday season, and use that data to estimate how much mobile traffic you’ll be getting this year. You can then decide whether possible optimizations, like speeding up page load time, will be worth the increased revenue you may attract.

Raise a Glass to a Prosperous Holiday Season

The holiday season is a perfect time to try something new and make strategic improvements that will bring benefits not only during the holidays, but year round. Spending some time getting your online store holiday-ready is a great place to start. To learn more about the full range of strategies that you can use to prepare for holiday sales, sign up for our upcoming webinar.