Ever seen those videos of crowds pushing their way into box stores on Black Friday? During peak season, that happens online in the ecommerce world, too. The events might have fewer broken windows, but they can still be pretty intense, especially because, thanks to ecommerce website builders, it’s easier than ever for people to create online stores.
If you haven’t experienced a peak season, yet, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Here at Website Builder Expert, we’ve got your back. We’ve pulled together some helpful information to fill you in on surviving – and thriving – during your possible peak season. Let’s go!
Peak season in ecommerce are those times of year when your sales can go through the roof (and right into outer space if you’re lucky). They’re usually centered around public holidays, seasons, or cultural events. Things like:
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday
- Valentine’s Day
- The release of a big movie like Star Wars or Marvel
But here’s the thing to remember – peak season isn’t the same for everyone. It will depend on your location, what kind of an online business you have, and the location of your customers.
Sometimes peak season is pretty obvious (if you sell fireworks you’re going to be busy before the 4th of July and January 1st), but sometimes it can surprise you. For example, you could be based in New York, but your bathing suits are really popular with Aussies – that means December will be a peak season for you.
There’s an old saying that when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
We don’t think it’s that dramatic, but we do think that being unprepared for a peak season can be a missed opportunity or set you back. And that’s the last thing we want for you!
Peak season can be a goldmine. So what are some of the tips that will help you capitalize on prime opportunities?
Customer data is the lifeblood of any online store that wants to be successful over the long term.
And it will really help you when you’re getting ready for peak season because it can let know which subject lines will tempt them into opening your newsletters, where you will find these customers, which products your customers are more likely to buy, and the deals that will make them put the products in their cart.
When you look at the data and analyze it, you’ll be able to create product offerings, social media content, promotions, collaborations, and customer service that will appeal to your customers.
And you’ll be able to appeal particularly during those peak seasons because you can tailor what you’re offering as much as you want.
Surprisingly, getting high traffic volume during a peak season can be just as bad as it is good.
Of course, it’s amazing because you have new customers, more sales, and higher brand awareness. But it can be total chaos – you (and any workers you might have) can be working long hours and go through a lot of stress.
High traffic volume can strain your online store’s website and social media network. It’s got to be able to accommodate a sudden surge of visitors, and if it can’t, your website will crash. And that sends your lovely customers to someone else.
But if you’re ready for high traffic volume, you’ll boost your reputation and score you the sales.
Preparing for high traffic volume means your online presence will have to fire on all cylinders. Your website will need to be optimized, your server capacity increased, and you’ll need to make your content delivery strategy super organized.
Half of all website traffic comes from a mobile phone. And 79% of smartphone users have bought something online in the last 6 months.
That means optimizing your online store for mobile users is a must. You want to make sure you’re enabling 50% of your potential customers to find and buy from you. And since Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites in search results, you’ve got an extra incentive!
The better the mobile user experience, the more the engagement and conversions. During a peak season you want potential customers to enjoy themselves browsing products and checking out your content.
Mobile optimization is all about having a responsive design that looks good and works brilliantly on those small screens. Text will need to be readable and adjustable. Customers will need to be able to see and use buttons and links. And pages have to load in a second or two or people will start to bounce.
The biggest online stores start marketing plans months before a peak season.
Just the thought of it’s pretty exhausting. But you’ve got to plant those seeds if you want to reap the harvest. And with marketing early, you’ll be able to tweak what works and grab customers’ attention before your competition even notices.
You don’t have to do a full court press – even picking one channel to make engaging content for, and using a schedule that you can upload to early so that it posts for you on the run up and through peak season can make a big difference.
If you can handle more than one channel, consider compelling emails for your email list to keep your peak season products on their minds. You can also launch special promotions and discounts (you can put them in banners on your website) to entice early shoppers and reduce the load during peak season.
Peak season can make you lose sleep. Those late nights and super early mornings trying to keep your order fulfillment commitments are no joke. And it can snowball – orders pour in. Customer questions multiply. Any regular staff you might have can start to feel worn down.
That’s when it’s time to think about bringing in extra hands for the peak season. They could be anything from customer service reps, order fulfillment people, marketing consultants, or someone to run your social media and push those promotions.
Extra people make you and any regular team you have happier. There’s far less chance of missing orders, and sending things late (which when we’re talking a peak season is something you definitely want to avoid). The easier you make peak season on yourself, the better the experience for everyone.
It’s easy to assume that during peak season, your online store is going to be fulfilling those orders and sending a lot more in the mail.
As we hinted at before, during a limited time like peak season, it’s important that all orders go out on time. Customers expect fast and reliable shipping, no matter what time of year.
If you review your fulfillment and shipping policies, you’ll be able to see if they work for a higher volume of orders. It’s an opportunity to negotiate faster delivery times and bulk-rate prices and special promotions with your delivery services.
Also, consider your shipping pricing for peak season. Have you thought about providing free shipping? It might feel a little scary – after all, at peak season you’re sending out lots of packages and it can really add up! The thing is, free shipping is the highest online customer preference – 62% expect it. You can always adjust your prices to accommodate this extra charge so you don’t end up out of pocket.
When you meet those customer expectations during peak time and avoid frustrating them, they’ll remember you.
Many people forget that returns are an important part of preparing for peak season. Return policies should be clear, fair, and easily accessible. And the return process should be simple.
Little things like drop off points and pre-paid return labels will help.
A good return policy can be the difference between a customer buying and going to the competition because they want to know if a product isn’t right for them, they won’t get stuck with the bill.
When returns are easy, customer experience is better. They won’t associate your brand with frustration and inconvenience and they’ll be more likely to come back. You’ll build trust that will pay off all year round.
Peak season is like a cheat code for your online store. You can rack up lots more customers, more orders, and more brand awareness.
All that’s needed is some preparation. Once you prepare your site and social media channels, do some marketing, make sure you have the staff you need, and ensure your fulfillment and returns are ready, you’ll be set to take advantage of this profitable period.
Keeping your customer experience as pleasant as possible, even during a busy time like peak season, will keep you in a good place, setting up long-term growth for your business.