How to Prepare Your Online Store for The Retail Holiday Sales

How to Prepare Your Online Store for The Retail Holiday Sales
How to Prepare Your Online Store for The Retail Holiday Sales

The retail holiday sales season is right around the corner.

Many people have already started to look for Christmas presents.

In a few months, the biggest shopping weekend of the year starts and the whole world will be ready to spend money on gifts for friends, loved ones and themselves. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday there is a tremendous increase in website visitors, along with their eagerness to buy. Plus, this trend won’t disappear until Christmas.

This increase in traffic can cause a lot of stress for ecommerce site owners and digital marketers.

To save yourself from the stress and take advantage of the boost in potential customers, you need to prepare your store in time. Here’s a list of 19 points that will help you to prepare your online store and be more profitable this Holiday season.

Prepare your website

1. Analyze and learn

Your number one task is to analyze last year’s statistics and learn from them.

Understanding the success or failure of your campaigns can help you create better campaigns this year. Analyzing data can also show you more ways to meet your customers’ needs.

Here are some examples of questions you should ask when reviewing last year’s data:

  • What were your most successful campaigns?
  • What was your most popular product?
  • Which days had the best traffic?
  • Which traffic source was the most popular, and most profitable?
  • How much total revenue did you earn during this time period?
  • What was the average order value?
  • Which keywords worked well?
  • What did your competitors do?

2. Make sure your website can handle that traffic

You don’t want your website to crash during the peak Holiday Season.

Unfortunately, too many visits at the same time, especially on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, can make this happen. If you haven’t experienced traffic spikes before, you should check with your website host directly and make sure your site can handle that traffic.

3. Fit the look of your store to the holiday sales

I’m not suggesting you need to do a full website redesign. You can tailor your website for the Holiday Season with just a few small changes.

Adding a countdown timer to the header is a great way to increase urgency. Changing your banners in the headers that promote your Black Friday or Christmas sales is also a good practice and easy to implement. If you have more resources, you might want to dress your whole website in a Holiday theme.

Changing some elements on your website to reflect that “it’s the Holidays!” can really increase the willingness of your visitors to keep shopping and stay in the “Holiday spirit”.

Fit the look of your store to the holiday sales

4. Optimize your site for mobile

During the Holiday season, more people browse online stores from their mobile or tablet than usual. You shouldn’t lose these visitors just because your website is not optimized for mobile.

Make sure it’s easy to browse your products and make a purchase from your store on phones and tablets.

5. Create better navigation

Poorly crafted and unclear navigation will make people turn around and leave your website as fast as they can. This is especially important during the Holiday Season because visitors are often constrained by time.

You can also improve the navigation of your site by taking a moment to make sure your search function is well configured. Here are a few tips to help you optimize searching on your site:

  • Put the search field in a highlighted place.
  • Use the option for auto-complete.
  • It should be available and work well from mobile as well.
  • Add a filtering option to your search results page.
  • Add a sort by price option to your search results page.

Check out Amazon’s search field that is highly visible also suggests products automatically.

Create better navigation

6. Create Holiday-focused category pages

Creating Holiday-focused category pages will increase user experience, keeping people in the “Holiday spirit” and making it easier for them to find your discounts, deals and gift packages.

Here are a few examples you can add:

  • Black Friday offers
  • Cyber Monday offers
  • Christmas offers
  • Gifts for men
  • Gifts for women
  • Gifts for mom (or dad)
  • And so on.

7. Setup heatmaps

While you’re preparing for the Holiday Season, you should also plan for next year by setting up heatmaps on your site. Heatmaps go a step beyond typical website stats – such as visitor source and pages visited – showing you precisely where your visitors click on each web page. They help can really help you optimize the layout and elements on your home page, product pages and category pages.

Boost your marketing communication

8. Be active on social media

During the Holiday season it’s vital that you increase your social media presence.

Publish as many Holiday-focused posts as you want. Share your Black Friday offers with your followers, ask questions about the Holidays. The Holiday Season is also a great time to run a contest on Facebook or Instagram. You can even offer an exclusive gift for your followers to encourage more business through your social channels.

Be active on social media

9. Plan your advertising and budget ahead of time

I’m sure you’ll be running PPC ads on Facebook and Google AdWords

Be sure to plan your ads and ad copy in time.

Otherwise, your approach will be rough-and-ready and you won’t take enough time to be creative. It’s possible that you need to increase the budget for the Holiday season. On Google AdWords, bid prices can easily increase for certain keywords.

10. Invest more energy in email marketing

Just like social media, you should be more active via email during the Holiday Season. If you have a huge email list filled with previous buyers and leads, start communicating with them as soon as possible. Remind them that they can buy their Christmas presents now without waiting in long lines or fighting to find a spot in the parking lot.

Always include deadlines in your promotional emails to increase urgency.

You should also promote your Black Friday & Cyber Monday offers like the example below.

Invest more energy in email marketing

When you’re building you email strategy, remember that transactional emails are just as important as promotional emails. Order confirmation emails and shipping emails are a great opportunity to upsell products.

11. Onsite retargeting campaigns

If you don’t have an email list yet, or it’s just too small, take advantage of the highly increased traffic.

Despite the growth of social media and search engine marketing, email list building has never been more important – especially when it comes to converting website visitors into buyers.

Onsite retargeting is a great way to build a healthy email list. Using well-timed popups, you can easily get your visitor’s contact information. The best way to capture email addresses is to provide discounts and incentives to your visitors. Offering a free eBook that is relevant to your visitors is also an effective way to build your email list.

You can also launch a subscription based campaign, just like the Hungarian online store, Extreme Digital did in the example below. They offered to open their Black Friday sales to their subscribers before anyone else.

Onsite retargeting campaigns

(Note: Would you like to learn more about onsite retargeting? Click here and download our free eBook that contains over 100 pages of tips and best practices for engaging and reengaging your customers, and boosting the sales on your site with onsite retargeting.)

12. Focus on content marketing

Many people tend to focus only on ads during the Holiday season. Boosting your content marketing can give you a big advantage against the competition.

For example, you can make a “Year’s Most Popular Products” list or gift guides for different family members. You can write a blog post sharing Black Friday shopping tips, or Christmas decorating ideas. It’s not only useful to your visitors but also helps SEO.

Check out the example below from Williams-Sonoma. They share a chocolate-marshmallow fudge recipe to encourage their subscribers to visit their website.

Focus on content marketing

Improve your customer service

13. Highlight your customer service

During the Holiday season visitors will reach out to you much more often. They might want to check if the product will arrive in time, or they want to know more about a product. That’s why you should highlight your customer service and make sure you are always available for any customer inquiries.

Check out this example from Zappos. They have a sticky bar at the top of their site with contact information for customer service.

Highlight your customer service

14. Integrate live chat

According to a survey from Software Advice, Millennials prefer live chat. During the Holiday season, they want to get an even quicker response to their questions.

That’s why you should – at least consider – integrating live chat on your website.

Check out the example below where the chat is placed in the bottom right corner. This is a common placement for chat buttons.

Integrate live chat

15. Highlight shipping

The most important question before Christmas that every customer wants to know: when will the product arrive?

Make sure the delivery time and shipping costs are clear for all the products on your website. If there’s an option for local pickup or the product is available in stores, highlight that as well.

You can also include this information in your promotional emails, just like The Body Shop did:

Highlight shipping

16. Highlight return conditions

When people are buying gifts for others, it can often happen that the size is wrong, the recipient doesn’t like the color of the product or already has one, so they need to return it. Make sure that customers can return products easily. Highlighting your return conditions in detail increases the trust and confidence of your visitors.

Highlight return conditions

Promote special offers

17. Offer gift wrapping services

The Holiday season gives you a lot of opportunities for upselling. Visitors are more open to add-on services, especially if it increases the overall value of the purchase or saves them time. In addition to gift wrapping, include the option to add a special message. Offering gift wrapping can help to boost your overall revenue.

Here’s an example from, where they ask the buyer if the item is a gift and offer gift packaging for an extra £5.

Offer gift wrapping services

You can also offer free gift wrapping above a certain price as an incentive for shoppers to purchase more.

18. Offer a gift card

To avoid buying someone a gift they don’t like, many people buy gift cards as presents for Christmas. You shouldn’t let these buyers go just because you don’t offer a gift card.

Gift cards also help to boost sales, because people are likely to spend more than the value of the card.

19. Offer free shipping

Free shipping is a great way to encourage more purchases during the Holiday Season – and all year round.

According to David Bell, a marketing professor at Wharton, a free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10.

You should consider offering free shipping for at least a few days before Christmas. You can also set free shipping at a certain price to increase average order value and be sure the offer is profitable for you.


It’s really important to start preparing your online store in time for the Holiday season. I hope the 19 points we’ve compiled together will help you be successful. Don’t forget, you can automate your marketing campaigns now, so during the Holiday season all you need to do is focus on your customers!

What would you add to this list? How do you prepare for the Holiday season? Let us know in the comments!

(Note: Have you heard of OptiMonk? It’s a powerful onsite messaging solution that helps you convert up to 15% of abandoning visitors to sales and leads. Give it a try – click here to start your 14-day free trial now.)

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  1. Daniel says:

    Great article! I started my online store this year, so this is the first time I’m doing anything for the Holiday season. This article helped a lot, thanks!

  2. Great article Nikolett! From festive hangings to smart POP displays, retail stores can do a lot in terms of attracting customers in holiday season. I have seen that sometimes small things make a big difference; for instance offering free gift wrapping services to customers. Although, that will mean a strong team to handle the volume throughout and also ensure minimal wastage of paper. But, it can be done.

  3. Div Jangid says:

    I think other than holidays we can leverage google trends to check when people are more interested in certain products. So that when the season comes we can prepare in advance.

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