If you manage or own an online store, you understand the pressure of making sure it works 24/7/365.
Anything can happen at any time.
You could be hacked, your shopping cart could stop working, or your site could crash altogether.
Scary situations aside, your online store is the face of your brand and it’s there to sell your products and deliver the best customer experiences to drive sales.
As we’ve just entered the Christmas season, there are important measures that all eCommerce store owners should take for a smooth and rewarding December.
In this blog post, I’ll share five tips on how to prepare your website for a successful Christmas shopping season.
1. Prepare for extra traffic
At some stage, we’ve all experienced a site crash. It’s never pretty. Sites crash for many reasons, but during the festive season, the cause is often due to traffic loads exceeding what servers can manage.
To ensure that your online store doesn’t crumble under the pressure of more page visits, connect with your hosting company and look at your options.
While a little old-school, some hosting companies still charge for bandwidth. If yours does, you need to speak to them about increasing yours for the festive season.
Ideally, you want your site to manage much more traffic than usual, especially if you’re running any specials that will draw more traffic.
2. HTTPS your entire website
This is a big one.
Online security is your responsibility as the store manager, and it’s expected by consumers too.
A common mistake we see on shopping sites is that they only secure pages that include forms and take payment information. While it may seem logical, leaving the rest of your site unsecured makes it easy for hackers to exploit your website and visitors.
Besides the risk posed by hackers, Google is also clamping down on unsecured pages. In 2014, SEO experts began to note that pages without SSL (HTTPS) connections seemed to be getting lower rankings from Google.
While SSL is one of an estimated 200 ranking factors, as a business owner, your goal is to stack as many factors in your favour for your success, and having an SSL certificate secure your whole website certainly helps.
Securing your entire website creates a safer shopping experience for your visitors, and with security taken care of, there’s one less thing to worry about.
3. Fix broken links
Broken links can be annoying for website visitors, especially when ready-to-buy customers are desperately searching for information they can’t find.
This one is an easy fix: just go through your site and click on every link on every page to see if the links lead you to the correct destination.
Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, you should have a content matrix that shows which pages belong in which categories, what their URLs are, when they were created and more.
4. Test coupons systems
The festive season is all about huge discounts, which are typically managed with the use of coupons to track ROI.
If you’re running any coupon offers, be sure to test all coupon codes and your system before you launch your campaign.
This way, you’ll pick up any bugs and handle them before your campaign goes live, saving your brand from backlash on Facebook and other social media.
5. Increase consumer confidence with trust symbols
Trust symbols are easy to understand. They create a sense of consumer confidence during the online shopping experience.
If you have an SSL certificate, you should be displaying your site seal prominently for website visitors to see.
The best places to include your site seal are in the footer of your site and on the checkout page.
In both cases, website visitors will be able to see them when scrolling through your online store and, most importantly, click on them to verify that your site is trusted.
Christmas is one of the busiest periods for all online retailers. While there are longer checklists you can create for your unique shopping environment, ensuring that your site is ready to handle more traffic, that all pages are secured by an SSL certificate, all links lead to the correct pages, coupons work and trust symbols are visible should help ease the pressure of this year’s crazy season.
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