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Preparing for peak season: Online merchant’s checklist

Spooky season is here, and that means the beginning of the peak sale season for many merchants.

November and December lead to the winter holiday season, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday/Week consistently being the best sales days of the entire year.

Customers are planning holidays at warm destinations and buying travel items and, with Christmas just round the corner, presents for their loved ones.

Here are 9 suggestions for merchants to make the most of any important sales season.

1. Optimize your inventory

  • Analyze sales data from previous years to predict your sales
  • Unsold seasonal inventory could be an even bigger problem than sold-out stock

2. Investigate why your shopping cart gets abandoned

  • Use analytics and surveys to understand your customers and give them what they really want while keeping your business profitable

3. Reduce shopping cart abandonment

  • Calculate and determine your shopping cart abandonment rate (1 – transactions finished / transactions started) x 100%
  • The average abandonment rate for online retail is estimated at about 70%, but varies between industries
  • Use chatbots to give discounts and implement email notifications or sales rescue plugins to save up to 30% of abandoned shopping carts

4. Test your systems for peak loads

  • Your vendors could also fail: implement redundancy for payments, logistics, etc., and plan how to keep the business going alternative ways
  • Performance hiccups in your store and at checkout will drop conversion and frustrate customers

5. Secure financing for sufficient inventory

  • Financing based on trading data is safer than assumption-based financing
  • Prefer financing options in which you only have to pay interest for the amount of loan actually withdrawn

6. Do not make significant changes to your systems and shop during high sales season

  • Even if you are careful, they could break something and you might lose significant sales
  • Schedule such releases outside of the busiest time of the year
  • Follow metrics and analytics to notice if something is broken

7. Direct your customers straight to content from ads and newsletters

  • Consider using deep linking and smart links so that customers don’t have to navigate in your store/app and potentially get frustrated
  • Design attractive promotions to get customers to visit your store

8. Offer special services

  • Stand out from the crowd by offering special services like last mile delivery, gift wrapping or handwritten messages
  • Surprise customers and give them something extraordinary to get excellent feedback. What would be better than getting flowers or sweets with your delivery?

9. Offer flexible payment options

  • Offering a buy-now-pay-later option to customers could increase your conversion rate by up to 40%