Three crucial questions when preparing your store for holiday sales

Events and public holidays, such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, give shoppers the chance to show their affection to those they care for. They also provide store owners with the opportunity to boost their sales.

How can e-commerce store owners prevent a situation that may result in missed sales opportunities, too little stock, late or no delivery, on these special days? Here are the three crucial questions to ask yourself when preparing your store.

Is it a gift-giving holiday?

While Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day are big on gifts, it’s not really the case for Easter – other than chocolate – and the more political or religious public holidays.

For the gift-giving holidays, preparation is relatively easy:
If you sell gifts or products that can double as gifts, expect an increase in sales when you promote your special offers to new or existing clients.
If the products you sell are not typical gift products, you could consider ways to package them differently just for the occasion. For example, not everybody would consider a single can of cat food a gift, but they would consider a pamper bag of goodies for their favourite feline a special treat. In this case, you may for a limited time only stock kitty pamper bags consisting of a number of items and packaged prettily. 

Public holidays that are geared more around awareness of a religious or political event instead of gifts require a different tactic:
Show sensitivity to those who identify with reason behind the day. For example, “Happy Human Rights Day” in your promotions may alienate those who commemorate the pain of Sharpeville and may otherwise have supported you through the year.
For the rest, consider that this may just be a much-needed day off from work where they can catch up on life. This could include maintenance around the house, socialising with friends, or taking time out at the local spa. Consider your opening hours and the types of products that may peak over these days.

Does it fall on a long weekend?

Long weekends are typically a time to get away. If you’re preparing your store for holidays that fall over long weekends, consider how it fits in with a road trip.

Consider your potential buyers’ lifestyle choices and budgets when planning your holiday promotions:
Ensure that your website is mobile friendly for those who like to shop on the go. Also make promotions available in advance so that purchases can be made while they still have access to their desktops and reliable Internet connections at home.
Budgetary constraints may prevent holidaymakers from taking their regular trips. For example, economic factors, such as an increase or decrease in petrol prices, may determine whether a long weekend is spent away or at home.
For those staying home, perhaps reinforce the perception that “there’s no place like home” by offering products and services that bring the holiday experience to their doors.

Do logistics play a part in purchase and delivery?

Imagine buying a product for a special occasion and then having it delivered too late! This is one of the biggest fears of online shoppers.

If you sell physical products online, here are a few practical tips for ensuring you don’t let your buyers down:
Make sure that your website’s check-out process collects all their relevant information to ensure seamless shipping. You don’t want to be calling them later for a missing postal code or delivery address.
Use a reputable, reliable delivery service and ensure that they won’t crack under the pressure on the busy days of the year. 
To facilitate last-minute gift purchases, implement an electronic voucher system that generates an instant gift that needs no delivery and can be redeemed at any time… T&Cs apply, of course.

As an e-commerce store owner, events and public holidays provide the perfect opportunity for a win-win-win situation for you, your buyers, and your bank balances… if you do it correctly. These three questions will help you fine-tune your focus.