COVID-19 Pandemic: How to prepare your eCommerce store for this holiday season

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The holiday season is around the corner but this year it is going be very different. Due to the presence of the coronavirus, more and more customers are turning towards the online space to shop so they could minimize human contact. According to a survey conducted by Salesforce research, 36% of shoppers don’t want to visit brick and mortar stores until a vaccine is available.

This shift in consumer behavior has enabled the eCommerce industry to witness growth during these challenging times. As per data surveyed by IBM, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of the eCommerce industry by almost five years.

Right from the Thanksgiving to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to Christmas, these holiday dates will witness fewer visits to traditional brick and mortar stores and more to eCommerce stores. Therefore holiday season is expected to bring in more and more customers for eCommerce owners this year. As special occasions need special planning, eCommerce stores need to prepare themselves in advance to maximize their sales and profit.

eCommerce store for a pandemic holiday season

So here are some of the tips to prepare your PrestaShop store for this COVID-19 affected holiday season:

Optimize your site speed
Nobody wants to visit a slow loading website, therefore this is the first thing you need to check. The site should not take longer than three seconds to load otherwise you will be losing more than half of your visitors. Moreover, by improving the page load time you can increase conversions and also decrease the bounce rate. So, before this holiday season arrives check your site speed and make necessary changes to improve it.

Make your site mobile-centric
Around half of online shopping nowadays is done through mobile and it is likely to increase during the holiday season. Therefore you must focus on providing a user-friendly mobile experience to your customers. Having a mobile-friendly online store will also help you to improve your site’s conversion rate. Apart from making the UI mobile-friendly by hiring a PrestaShop developer, you should also focus on improving mobile KPIs such as app retention rate, mobile traffic, bounce rate, push notifications opt-in and more.

Ensuring a stable infrastructure
Online sellers experience a lot of traffic during the holiday season and it is going to increase even more this year due to COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore you should prepare your infrastructure to handle this enormous traffic and avoid any website crashes. Try to do a performance testing of your infrastructure to ensure it can handle peak loads without compromising user experience. You can even hire an agency that offers PrestaShop support for this task. In case you find any performance-related issues try to get them resolved in time to improve your revenue and avoid costly downtimes.

Devise a sound marketing strategy for the holidays

With a sound marketing strategy, you can engage more visitors to your website who want to avoid large crowds this year. Try to focus on the sales that you’ve had post Q1 this year, as shopper’s preferences and needs have changed drastically post COVID-19. Analyze the products, promotions and posts that did well for your store amidst the pandemic while keeping the holiday trends in mind. You can use email, social media, paid marketing and other mediums to drive quality traffic to your website for the 2020 holiday season. Also displaying holiday products on your homepage can be a great move.

Optimize seasonal SEO
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, people would be searching online for presents and party stuff more than any other year ever. Therefore you should take advantage of this opportunity by building a solid seasonal SEO strategy. One way is to update your keywords and include more holiday-related words as people fire such queries a lot. Another way is to come up with a holiday focused content strategy which includes holiday-themed landing pages and blogs. An important thing to keep in mind is to start early as it will help you to maximize the results of your efforts.

Personalize customer experience
With thousands of online stores selling similar products, providing a personalized experience can make a big difference to your store this holiday season. Categorize your customers based on their search history, items they’ve purchased in the past, age group, location and other such factors. It will help you to provide dynamic content to each segment with better product recommendations. Moreover, it improves the upselling and cross-selling of your products.

Simplify the checkout process
One of the most important areas that decide the success of your eCommerce store this holiday season is your checkout process. Focus on having a simplified and streamlined checkout process that turns visitors into customers. Make the forms as simple as possible with single page checkout and the auto-fill feature. You can offer a guest checkout option, remove any distractions like the navigation bar or product recommendations and add a progress bar to simplify the process. Also, try to provide multiple payment options so that more and more customers can buy from your store.

Ensure great customer service
The holiday rush must not be an excuse to compromise with customer service as it can bring a huge dent to your sales. Instead, you should focus on providing speedy resolutions to customers as they are time-pressed as well. You can use PrestaShop support modules for customer service and even automate some of the tasks to reduce the load on your staff. Apart from this, you can focus on making your FAQ section stronger by analyzing past data, so that consumers can get find answers to most of their queries without contacting the customer service.

Final say

COVID-19 has completely changed the way the world functioned and it is going to continue for the holiday season as well. Therefore, eCommerce owners must replan their holiday strategy for this year. By keeping the points mentioned above, online stores will be able to fully maximize their potential in this social distancing era.

In case, you are looking forward to optimizing your store for this holiday season, hire our PrestaShop developer. We have an incredibly talented team of developers who can make your site ready for this 2020 holiday season.

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