“If you can get some help from your friends and the family then do, that’s always helpful. Don’t underestimate how busy you will be because this year is predicted to be bigger than ever.”
From today’s episode you’ll learn:
Hello and welcome, I’m Justyna, LiveChat content writer and you’re listening to the 14th episode of Business Sidekick! In today’s episode, I’m talking with Shauna Moran, Partner Manager at Shopify, about how to prepare your online business for the holiday season.
Although it might sound surprising - for your customers, for your clients, holiday season starts very early, so if you’re surprised that we’re going to talk about Christmas in September, don’t be!
Did you know US retail industry generated over three trillion dollars during the holidays in 2013? These holiday sales reflected about 20 percent of the retail industry's total sales and the numbers are getting bigger each year!
So you better listen to Shauna telling you about the biggest challenges that online businesses will face during the holiday season if u dont want to miss a great opportunity!
Hello Shauna, thank you for accepting my invitation, I’m really happy to have you in my podcast!
Thanks Justyna, I’m really happy to be a part of it, I’m really looking forward to our discussion today.
It will be fun! Can you please tell me a bit about yourself, what do you do and why do you like eCommerce so much?
Absolutely! In July 2015 I started as a guru for Shopify, so gurus are support really. I work remotely in Ireland. I had the opportunity to have merchants from all around the world, it was absolutely fantastic, so now I’ve moved on to the partnerships team, so I look after our partners at Europe, Middle East and Africa, so our partners would be anybody that’s referring to a client that’s on Shopify.
So we could have web developers, designers, marketers, photographers, app developers and team developers. So I get to work closely with them and help them grow their business through the Shopify partner program.
Oh nice, it seems you’re the right person to talk about today’s podcast topic, which is “how to prepare your online store for holiday season!” The funny thing is that it’s barely autumn, but for the retailers... The countdown to Christmas is already underway, right?
Absolutely. I mean if you have a look at last year and google trends people actually started searching for Christmas ideas in the beginning of August, so people are very organized these days. So if you do have an online store or online business now is really the time to start getting prepared.
Alright so what are the most important reasons why online retailers fail to prepare their businesses for the holiday demand? I believe that the first thing would be that they have no idea that it starts in August right?
Absolutely. There is a few different things that an online retailer can do to prepare for the holiday season. I suppose it’s looking at the business that they have and the holidays that are replicable to them, so the countries that they ship to, the countries that they have consumers in, so really just familiarizing yourself with those holidays that are coming up and choosing the ones that suit you best and your business best. Then there is a lot of different steps that online retailers can take at the moment.
Although we’re only in September., they really should start looking at the different return policies and additional payment options that they have on their online store. So a lot of retailers online will be more liberal and extend return policies and change policies, they may also offer additional payment gateways, and they may also offer free shipping, so that’s maybe something to look at as well, you know, on the Shopify platform, you can create free shipping, and that would allow you to offer free shipping to your customers once it’s all over, certain order. So you’re enticing the customer to buy more online but you’re also being very nice and giving them free shipping.
Yeah, that’s very interesting and I was supposed to ask you, how to market yourself among the competitors and free shipping is a great idea. Are there any additional ways that we can stand up to?
There is different things that you can do, of course, but really I suppose your brands trust and really defining how the customers see your business and your product, so what’s your unique selling point and getting the true on all aspects of your content that you are working around in the holiday season.
Maybe giving certain discounts over the holiday season, and even personalizing the consumer experience, as some merchants on Shopify, on the platform, they include different things like personal notes within some of their deliveries and just to really personalize the whole experience for the customer, but absolutely, in terms of the content, within Shopify as well you can add different sales channels, setting up your products on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and really standing all across the platforms, rather than just a website.
We have a great blog post on the essential blog Shopify store: launch checklist, so everything that you should do to prepare your store, such as testing your payment gateways, testing your domain, adding all available sales channels, reviewing your email notifications, optimizing all your images, and definitely one thing that I would recommend to eCommerce retailers is to check out your online store on mobile devices and last year it was a, the majority of sales through the holiday season, has been on smartphones, mobile devices.
So just to ensure, that you’re optimizing your web site for smaller screens as well, and that’s something that’s included with Shopify, but just to make sure that everything is mobile compatible. That is the device of choice for online consumers over the holiday period.
Yeah, because the people sometimes think that the customers are browsing the internet in the comfortable room and sitting in front of laptop and people are buying all the time, right?
Absolutely. People are busy, they are looking at their Christmas shopping over, on the train on their way to work. Maybe something to consider adding to your online store is a wishlist, people are researching as soon as August so if you have a wishlist on your site it would allow online consumers to add products that they are interested in, and they can go back to that as well, so that’s another consideration maybe to take into account.
Holiday season is not only about Christmas, it’s also about Black Friday and it’s also a great opportunity, right?
Oh black Friday and Cyber Monday, they are huge, it’s a busiest time here at Shopify, and it’s a huge opportunity for a merchants to make the majority of their revenue.
The majority you’re saying?
Yeah, it’s absolutely huge, so there is a lot that online retailers can do to prepare and start preparing now, looking at the competition, start researching, have a look at the products that they have, what kind of sales are you going to have, and definitely have a look, you’re gonna have to do some marketing , whether it is email campaign, pay per click, social media, there is a lot of different ways that you can market the sales that you're’ going to have on black Friday, Cyber Monday so it’s about choosing the right way, to market that.
What we have on the Shopify platform is the functionality to provide carrier calculated shipping, it’s a real time estimated shipping costs from carriers. It plugs directly in your shopify admin and then it provides real time rates for online consumers, so if they do need something over night next day you can offer that to them and the prices are going to be accurate, so you’re not going to lose any money and you don’t have to worry about that.
Something like that could definitely work around that, Black Friday, Cyber Monday as it’s so busy, so as a merchant on an online retailer, end up saving your money and also to ensure that your pricing for shipping is 100% accurate as well.
Do you know if any of your partners of your customers, are hiring more people to work that time?
It is, absolutely, they definitely are, even just to have staff to help with the online sales and the shipping of the online sales, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of monitoring and shipping out goods and packing goods, so yeah, a lot of people do that for the holiday season.
There is a lot of industry reports out there as well, if it’s your first year online for this season, it will be hard to decide how many staff members that you need, if you’ve been online for a couple of years, comparing it to previous years will also help, but then this year is predicted to be so much more of an increase and it is hard to say how many you’ll need and definitely if you can get the help of friends and family, that’s always helpful and together to help ship out all those goods.
Don’t underestimate how busy you will be as well, because it’s large it’s huge, and this year is predicted to be bigger than ever.
That’s a very good summary. Thank you very much for this interview, it was a real pleasure.
Absolutely, Justyna, thank you so much, and to everyone listening, I’m wishing you all the best, on your online business through the holiday season, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Holiday season in eCommerce means very intense competition, so you don’t want to and definitely cannot afford to frustrate your shoppers.
Your first check is to make sure that your website loads quickly and it doesn’t crash. Also, make sure that it looks good on mobiles, as 30% of online customers browse the Internet on their mobile phones. Without the responsive design you will miss the opportunity to make more sales.
Consider the early introduction of Christmas promotions and special offers, and remember about the deadline, December 25th. You have to keep your customer service level very high and make sure that you don’t run out of stock, that you’re able to ship your products quickly and you’re able to deal with the returns.
It’s also a common strategy to offer premium shipping with the guarantee that presents will be delivered on time. It’s definitely worth considering, as many people will be willing to pay more, to avoid the stress that a gift won’t make it before Christmas.
That’s it for today, thanks a lot for listening! If you like Business Sidekick, show me some affection and rate my show on iTunes, I will also appreciate if you share it with your audience.
And since the holiday season has already started, let me wish you merry marketing campaigns and happy sales time!
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