The eCommerce Holiday Readiness Playbook

With just the swift click of a “Buy Now” button, holiday shopping has transformed into an incredibly easy and effortlessly streamlined experience. Each year, more and more consumers are transitioning towards eCommerce-driven holiday shopping. In 2019, Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, with record sales reaching nearly 10 billion dollars. Pile that on top of the thriving Black Friday eCommerce market, as well as the remaining holiday shopping season, and the message becomes clear: potential sales made during the holiday season are too large to ignore. Before making those sales, though, your business needs a strategic plan. 

Why you should start prepping for the holidays now

Let’s face it. Your customers are already thinking about the holidays. The temperatures are finally cooling off, and the bustling season of gift-giving is right around the corner. Well-prepared holiday shoppers are already planning wish lists and adding items to their carts. News headlines about supply chain issues and shipping delays are adding even more pressure for consumers to start their holiday shopping now.

Right now is the ideal time for gathering inspiration and knocking out the initial steps in planning. Brands need to use early autumn to cast a wide net, letting consumers know about their products, and start building a large audience to retarget later during the holidays. By doing so, your brand will be top of mind and will serve you well later. 

With world affairs as they are, many consumers have worries about shipping deadlines and stock issues, so the expectation is that the shopping season will creep up to an earlier date—as it did in 2020—to meet the growing demand. As a result, if you are waiting until November to implement your holiday plan then you are already missing out on business. 

Steps and tactics to get ready for holiday shopping

If you are an eCommerce brand, first-party data is the most powerful thing you can have in your toolbelt. To fully utilize your platform data, first start by segmenting your current customers into audience lists. This crucial step will let you serve relevant messaging and directly increase consumers’ propensity to convert and keep your brand at the top of their minds. Deploying these audience lists to your paid platforms is extremely important and will help fuel audience stability and efficiencies. 

Here’s an example of using first-party data this upcoming season: segment your first-party data into past holiday purchasers, then drill in further to segment discount holiday purchasers. By segmenting and using this informative data, you can now target this audience with discount messaging and increase your bid on specific channels due to their high propensity to convert.

In addition, you should also leverage your eCommerce platform to build holiday-specific landing pages. These are especially important for a positive consumer experience and can showcase key holiday products and resources like:

  • Exclusives
  • Gift guides
  • Shipping timelines 
  • Gift wrapping, etc. 

There are endless tactics that you can test to see what resonates with your target consumer. Testing is vital because it will be different for every brand and even sometimes within different audience segments for the same brand. Some beneficial eCommerce holiday ideas to introduce: 

Holiday gift guides

Take the hassle out of shopping for your customer! Offer them gift ideas for all the special people in their life, making their shopping experience a breeze. This strategy offers endless opportunities that will bring value to your business. Incorporate creative cross-promotion tactics, mix-and-match products to reach a wider net of customers, or create targeted gift guides based on your customer demographics. 

Exclusives, collaborations, and limited-time kits/bundles/sets

This helpful holiday idea can serve two purposes. First, customers love limited-time items as well as an opportunity to bundle and grab multiple favorites for a more cherished gift. The back-end benefit? You can bundle products together that you may have excess stock of, to create creative holiday limited-time kits and sets. 

Shipping messaging

For last-minute shoppers, offering free express shipping can be a great tactic to convert. Communicating shipping deadlines to consumers along with relevant holiday messaging will resonate with shopping behavior during the holidays. 

eCommerce Sales & Discounts

Offering a small discount can help boost your overall sales as customers will gravitate towards products where they feel they are receiving a great deal. 

One effective sales strategy is to offer a limited time 10% or 25% off deal. Use a limited-time allotted sale, and let the sense of urgency be the driving force. Businesses of every industry participate in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, so start documenting your business’s discount strategy now.

Some brands like Ray-Ban have already created a Black Friday landing page:

Should Black Friday and Cyber Monday be part of your holiday preparedness?

Absolutely! These two gigantic eCommerce days have now turned into two weeks of the best deals and the biggest shopping days of the year. Many shoppers use October and the week leading up to Black Friday in November to plan purchases, and then when the discounts hit the week of Black Friday, they shop the deals and convert en masse. 

Brands often start their Black Friday discounts Tuesday or Wednesday of Thanksgiving week and then continue through the end of the week of Cyber Monday. So, you can turn traditionally a single day of high conversions into a full week of high purchase numbers. 

Discounts are table stakes during this time, so if you are a brand that cannot provide discounts, we would advise pausing advertising during this time because your messaging will get lost among your competition. You’ll also have to pay a premium for ad impressions.

Staging your holiday strategy for success

When it comes to holiday strategies, we like to think of them in phases. This first phase is where increasing your brand recognition comes into play. As you focus your efforts on brand-building tactics, your business will gain new followers and help fill retargeting pools as the critical shopping season nears.

In phase two, flip the audience funnel to focus on your core consumers. Narrow down all of your site visits to consumers who are new to your brand and/or have shown an initial interest in your brand. Then, use targeted and enticing offers that will encourage them to make a purchase. Focus on holiday messaging and driving users to convert immediately. Timeliness, value, and specific messaging are keys to driving a successful conversion. 

If you put in the hard work towards an eCommerce holiday plan now, the payoffs will be huge. Companies looking to gain insights and knock their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales out of the park can reach out to our talented digital marketing team.

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