Christmas may seem like a long way off for most people, but for retailers it is never too early to start preparing for peak season. Nenad Cetkovic of Lengow outlines 5 tips to make your Christmas a cracker.

According to Internet Retailing (4), we can expect a 20% year-on-year increase in holiday online sales. So, to make sure you’re ready, here are five ideas to make sure your online store is optimised to take advantage of the ever increasing opportunities the festive season brings.

1. The most sociable time of the year

With more than 1.65 billion monthly active users, Facebook is still the #1 social network. With 46% of its members logging in while they shop and enough data on each person to allow for highly-targeted advertising, it is not hard to see how the social network represents 64% of global social platform turnover (5). If you are not currently using Facebook Dynamic Ads, perhaps it is time to sprinkle social into your sales strategy.

2. Searching for stocking fillers

With 60% of consumers starting their shop on a search engine (6) before heading to an online store, it might be worth investing in Adwords campaigns, sponsored links and retargeting, to make sure your online store is one of the first customers are drawn to. Now would be a good time to ensure your SEO is flawless and your product listings perfectly describe the items you have in store.

As most people are shopping for others during the holiday season, clearly categorised stock (i.e. “for him”, “for her”, etc.) is a great way to cut down the time frustrated shoppers need to spend searching for gifts. Instead offer them ideas, optimising their experience in your store and improving the chances of them making a purchase.

3. A time for giving

With 81% of shoppers actively searching for discounts (7), it is time to find a solution which will automate the sales period for you; all you need to do is predetermine the items you want to include and when you want discounts to start and end. With the system in place well in advance, you will no longer have the headache of manually keeping an eye on stock. With 3 for 2 offers and well-timed discounts, customers will not only be buying more than they originally intended to purchase, but it will also ensure regular web traffic.

4. Make sure Santa’s sleigh arrives on time

There are three golden rules of delivery to keep in mind ahead of the peak. Firstly, offering free deliveries will improve basket abandonment rates by 12% with up to 8% more items added (8). Second, make things easy for your customers. Make sure you can offer them express delivery right up until Christmas Eve, with multiple collection point options for those who’ve left purchases to the last minute, or who can’t be home to sign for important packages. Finally, anticipate returns and have a good system in place to ensure the smooth running of your stock and customer satisfaction.

5. Deck the store with boughs of holly

Make your online shop look amazing! Use red, gold, glitter and lots of festive imagination to get people in the mood for a spot of Christmas shopping. That said, take care not to go over the top and make sure your decorations don’t impact the loading time of your website. On average, people are only prepared to wait 2 seconds for a site to load (9)!

Nenad Cetkovic is COO at Lengow.
Twitter: @nenadcetkovic