14 Critical eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid Before Christmas
Updated November 2023
Are You Prepared for Eager Christmas Shoppers?
Ho ho ho! Holidays are coming, baubles deck the halls everywhere you look, and you can smell gingerbread all around you.
It does not take long to get into a cheerful mood around the holidays. However, this time of year is highly stressful for many entrepreneurs who decide to offer their products online.
eCommerce businesses can be very successful and drive enormous website traffic during the holiday season, generating record-breaking sales. However, this is not always the case.
As easy as it seems to be to drive sales when people are eager to buy, it is equally as easy to make a mistake that will result in a lack of revenue. eCommerce businesses face the challenge of living up to the ever-increasing expectations of their clients.
While companies may do their best to deliver the most positive customer experience possible, they can still make many little mistakes that might result in a fatal business catastrophe.
eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid
What are eCommerce businesses’ most common mistakes, especially at the most beautiful (and busiest) time of the year? Read on to find out.
1. Not Preparing Your Site for an Influx of Traffic
Your website needs to load before your would-be customers lose interest. Do this by ensuring that your servers can withstand higher-than-normal levels of web traffic when your sale or promotion launches.
Ideally, there should be little to no impact of the traffic increase on the customers using your site by:
- Looking into the possibility of a “failover” site, a backed-up server site that can handle traffic if you can’t get in touch with your host if your site goes down.
- Confirming that your payment processor can handle a large volume of orders in a short amount of time.
- Check-in with your merchant services before the holiday to learn how the system operates under these circumstances, their backup options, or what other integration methods they offer to help distribute some of the checkout burdens.
2. Not Delivering an Exceptional Mobile Shopping Experience
Like it or not, your clients will buy via mobile increasingly using this channel. As a result, the total value of m-commerce retail sales is skyrocketing. Mcommerce sales are projected to exceed $430 billion in 2022 and $710 billion in 2025
Being accessible on mobile is essential for marketing, and especially true during busy shopping periods.
Although responsive web design (RWD) is commonplace, it does not mean that every eCommerce website measures up to the required standard. In some cases, only the main page is responsive enough. Or product descriptions cover up photos or vice versa. Unfortunately, these shortcomings do not make the best impression on your customers.
The trend of researching online and purchasing offline is no longer valid since more and more shoppers now decide to hit the buy button in an eCommerce store instead of going to a brick-and-mortar one.
For many consumers, mobile holiday shopping is the preferred option. More holiday season shoppers will buy gifts via their mobile devices, according to Practical Ecommerce. The total US eCommerce sales from mobile devices should hit $115 billion, a 20% increase over 2021. Good mobile experiences are also likely to boost site conversion rates.
Also, the trend has changed a bit. In the past, people used mobile phones to research some offers and seal the deal via desktop. Nowadays, if they have a shopping impulse, they want to be able to finalize the transaction in seconds, even on their phone. If you do not provide them hassle-free opportunities for doing so, you can lose out on many sales.
We also are all aware that Google prioritizes rankings for mobile-optimized sites. So, make sure your experience on mobile is just as good as the desktop experience for customers.
3. Ignoring eCommerce Trends
Following emerging eCommerce trends is not optional—every eCommerce business must face them. Some high-tech trends may seem like a long shot, but there are other, more practical ones you can try right away.
While implementing some AR or VR ideas requires certain assets that don’t come about overnight, providing personalized customer support and a positive overall experience is a good starting point.
The same applies to artificial intelligence or voice commerce—they do not have to be priorities for your company right now. Still, you need to be aware of their existence and maybe even start looking for opportunities and apply them to your strategy.
Trends often indicate the direction the whole sector is heading towards, and your brand should be a part of that future of eCommerce.
4. Not Using Targeted Landing Pages
Direct consumers to the most relevant pages on your site and highlight your offer. But how?
Use targeted landing pages to attract customers with specific offers around that holiday.
No one has the time or capacity to redesign a significant portion of their site but using landing pages keeps the content fresh, timely, and relevant while keeping design and development lift light.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Keep the design consistent with the website.
- Include holiday offers on the homepage or banner and the landing page.
- Include links or navigation back to the primary site if users didn’t find their intended offer or service.
5. Not Updating Your Products
Customers will keep on browsing until they like what they see. Providing specifications, high-quality images, relevant features, and benefits can severely impact the sales of the products.
So you must ensure that your product catalogs and details are always up-to-date. The key is to use your tools and resources wisely during these times.
6. Not Focusing on Customer Experience
Are you confident that your customer experience is the best that it can be? Are you willing to bet your holiday growth goals on it?
When considering holiday marketing, it’s critical to walk through a sale process from beginning to end as if you were a new customer (as many likely will be).
See where you could reduce gaps in the conversion process or checkout friction. For example, is your site search or main navigation easy to use to find what you’re looking for?
Check that all parts of the checkout process work quickly and efficiently on desktop and mobile versions of your site. You’ll want to complete this ahead of your holiday promotional period so that any changes or updates can be made and tested before launch.
If SEO is a crucial priority for launch, plan ahead so that your pages are visible in search results when customers are looking for them (ideally 6-8 months out, but it’s not too late to start now).
7. Ignoring Voice Search Optimization
Voice search may not be as prevalent as expected, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Voice search options are essential in categories such as entertainment, recipes, and how-to guides, which are hot categories during any holiday season.
It’s still important to think about how you can optimize your site or product pages for Alexa, Siri, and Google Home.
Answer questions about product use and FAQs that could become featured snippets by applying the correct structured data and answering user queries naturally for voice search use.
8. Neglecting Technical Difficulties
Did you know that even one non-working button can cost you thousands of lost selling opportunities?
If a potential consumer determined to purchase a product cannot finalize the purchase because of a 404 error, inactive button, or page-load speed slower than a turtle, do not be surprised that they will start looking for cancel options. We live in an era that requires everyone and everything to be faster, better, and more effective.
One round of A/B testing and bug detection is insufficient—you need to analyze your performance daily and constantly look for improvement areas. Even slight modifications can bring you more business, so never resign from optimization.
It’s always a good idea to check user behavior regularly with some session replays—they can help you identify possible bottlenecks and troublesome parts of your website. However, do not make things difficult for your clients.
9. Not Building Brand Awareness and Trust
Building some positive brand awareness around your business is imperative before you can start generating holiday sales. However, there are a couple of things that you can do here; take these pieces of advice as actionable tips.
For example, you should constantly encourage your clients to leave reviews regarding your services and products. Not only can you impact your SEO this way, but it also helps build some brand trust. People do follow recommendations and read opinions before making a purchase.
Even one opinion or comment is better than none (unless it’s negative, of course, but that is the risk of unbiased user-generated content). Of course, social proof will not hurt either—there are some push notifications and plug-ins that you can use for this purpose.
Speaking of negative comments, you are exposed to them before Christmas just like any other eCommerce business is. But, as mentioned previously, at the end of the day, it will be your business that your clients will blame if something is not up to par.
This situation is where social media listening can help prevent crises and identify some brand ambassadors to promote your company further.
10. Ignoring the Power of Social Media
Some eCommerce business owners ignore social media. As a result, they limit social media communication to just a few monthly posts, and their community management is non-existent.
The marriage of eCommerce and social media is at its strongest in the pre-holiday season, with many functionalities that support growing sales. However, if you do not make the most of social commerce, plan your communication, or care about reaching clients on every possible platform, you can suffer from decreasing sales, a dwindling community, and low engagement rates.
Shoppable feeds are not a choice any longer. Instead, they are a must-have for those eCommerce brands who want to achieve success. You can use social media marketing tools to plan your social media strategy, and you should also make sure you’re active on the platforms where your clients are too.
11. Waiting Too Long to Launch Promotions
Most brands and retailers wait for the perfect opportunity to launch their campaigns— which happens to be only at the last minute. So if you are planning to offer discounts and gifts, you need to push these efforts well in advance.
Remember, you have a limited time to convert month-long traffic to sales. Otherwise, customers will never know about your promotions, and despite high traffic, your conversions will be too low.
12. Providing Poor Customer Service
Your customer support team will have its hands full during the holiday season and need to roll its sleeves up to deliver a flawless customer experience.
Omnichannel support matters. It seems obvious, but many customer support teams do not deliver for existing and potential customers. With a slow response rate and insufficient data or knowledge to help, clients can be quickly put off and instead choose an offer from your competitors.
You need to be prepared for more queries and questions than ever before—and if you do not react quickly, you might miss the boat. Consider hiring extra people during this period to ensure seamless customer support.
You can also use chatbots to speed up customer service processes and unburden your busy agents. But, of course, if your customer support leaves much to be desired, clients will turn their back on you and potentially spread the word about your approach. Not the best end to the year, you must admit.
13. Disregarding Logistical Bottlenecks
Before you drive massive traffic to your website and sell vast quantities of products, make sure you can handle such a high number of orders and can ship them in time.
There will be no mercy for you or your eCommerce business if you do not deliver on promises. There is no way that any of your customers will choose your offer again if you let them down at such a crucial period of the year.
Many eCommerce owners get over-excited quickly during this period. Higher traffic often means higher interest and increased sales. However, your day has only 24 hours. So you need to get some extra help or work yourself to the bone, but you still can’t always guarantee delivery on time.
Many things depend on couriers, too, so don’t leave your delivery options last minute and guarantee delivery to those who order products three days before Christmas. The risk of not getting orders delivered on time and leaving customers fuming about your shop is too high.
As much as you would love to deliver every package, you cannot always rely on other people in the logistics chain, and consumers would still blame you at the end of the day for not receiving their purchase.
14. Overlooking Your Competitors
If you don’t want to see your competitors overtake you during pre-Christmas, you must act and react and do meticulous research. You cannot achieve success if you do not check what your competitors are doing on social media, TV campaigns, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and other channels.
If you neglect research and do your own thing, it can quickly turn out that your competitors came up with ideas much more rapidly and have already started implementing them.
If this is the case, then there is practically no way for you to stand out from the competition, and your Christmas marketing efforts may be in vain, which can reflect lower sales and make PPC advertising less effective.
While some companies can turn this mistake into a win-win situation, not every brand has such abilities. Better to be safe than sorry and do your research ahead of time.
Make Your eCommerce Business Inviting
Holiday marketing is a pillar for many product brands and helps drive sales. However, many consumers look for exciting offers and deep discounts, so cutting prices and announcing sales is not enough.
Using these tips on avoiding eCommerce mistakes, you’ll help your business or product brand stand out in a crowded marketplace and prevent errors that turn customers away.
Create an online shop that people will be attracted to during the holiday season and stay with after, whether you run post-holiday campaigns or not. Despite fierce competition, it is relatively easy to drive a bit of traffic and attract potential customers during this busy time.
However, it is much more challenging to turn those leads into deals and make a particular client loyal enough to keep visiting your eCommerce store throughout the year—not just when the weather outside is frightful.
If you are planning to launch an online store or are looking for an experienced web design team who can consult you on what is best for your project, do not hesitate to reach out to discuss your eCommerce strategy for Christmas and beyond.
Is Your eCommerce Website Ready for Christmas?
Are you interested in selling your products online but unsure how to prepare your eCommerce site for eager holiday shoppers? Our professional eCommerce designers will be happy to help you with this. But first, look at our portfolio and read our case studies.
And if you are unsure how to avoid eCommerce mistakes before Christmas, let’s talk! We will listen to you, answer your questions, and help you prepare your online store for the holidays!
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For more content relevant to your business or product brand – check out the range of articles on our web design blog. (This one, explaining how to optimize your e-commerce website for Christmas, is an excellent place to start!)
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