Merchants, have you started to prepare your eCommerce site for the 2018 holiday season?

Now is the time to start developing your plan of attack for a record-breaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We have the Top 5 To-Do’s to prepare your company for the busiest eCommerce holiday of the year!

1. Finalize product promotions, discounts and specials

If you’re like most merchants, it’s a challenge to figure out exactly what type of promotion to run. Should individual categories or products get top billing for sales, or should the entire site be discounted? Would doorbusters, all-day deals or a BOGO offer make sense? Whatever approach you take, we recommend a thoughtful strategy that makes your holiday approach feel fresh and uniform.

A good place to start is to review past years’ analytics. You may notice some initiatives that can be further refined or removed, depending on user activity. It’s a good idea to keep yearly competitive intelligence on key competitors’ pricing and strategies that will help give you an advantage on planning this year’s promotions.

EY Tip: Create any discount codes early! Be sure to test the codes with multiple use cases.

2. Refine and promote your shipping policies

Determining your holiday shipping policy should be one task that you get done well in advance. One reason is because you want to give yourself ample time to convey this information in an intuitive way to your customers. Tagging it on to an existing “shipping info” page might not get the results you’re hoping for.

Having clear areas in your main shopping areas to advertise shipping policies is critical. If you offer free shipping, customers want to know what the thresholds are—and when they expire! While we recommend a holiday-specific shipping page, intuitive placements on the homepage, interior and checkout pages will save you and your customer service team a lot of headaches.

EY Tip: Your checkout page needs to have an often-updated area that includes relevant info for guaranteed delivery dates.

3. Optimize your site for speed and mobile devices and anticipate a major increase in traffic

As you think about all of the merchandising and shipping graphics your site needs during this holiday push, continue to monitor how all of your images impact the user experience. Even if you base your landing-page designs on strategies that have worked in the past, we encourage a fresh interpretation so that established customers see you investing in their experience. Just remember, all of your photos and graphics should be optimized to reduce load time.

We recommend consulting with your hosting provider and development firm about what to expect during holiday traffic surges. Poor planning results in poor sales. You want to make sure your site is up and running with minimal issues.

EY Tip: To optimize your site’s speed during peak traffic, limit the amount of updates your team is making to products so the server can properly build the page cache.

4. Redesign pages to upsell products

While every merchant is wanting a boost in conversions, average order value is one metric you can’t afford to ignore. The holidays present a great opportunity to merchandise your products in a way that encourages multiple purchases. In order to achieve that, a strategy built on analytics and appropriate functionality is required.

Once you’ve determined which products are most often purchased together, you can begin to craft a more cohesive plan. Some of your upsell strategies should find their way into your merchandising graphics, while others should intuitively flow out of the regular shopping experience—for example, in an area within the “buy box” of your product page. We encourage you to compare notes with your design and development team in order to maximize your holiday upsell potential.

EY Tip:  Get creative with the wording and design of your upsell areas in order to make it feel unique to the holiday season!

5. Consolidate your marketing calendar

Let’s face it: the holidays can be crazy. In order for you not to go crazy, we highly recommend creating a marketing calendar that keeps track of all of the above and more.

A marketing calendar will help you keep track of critical areas like launching email campaigns. You simply have to keep track of all of the design and development needed to advertise your discount promotions, shipping info, and other offers. We’ve seen merchants engage in knee-jerk activities during the height of holiday craziness, and it can cause all sorts of merchandising misfires.

EY Tip: One of the most important items to have on your calendar is planning for good photography. Nothing sparks holiday emotion like well-planned and executed photos!

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season will be here before we know it. Take advantage of the time now to strategize, plan, and vet all details with your full team.

For more information about how to prepare your store this holiday season, call us at 888-429-4803 or email us at