I’ve written about Q4 for business before, but those articles tend to take a slightly different approach for businesses not based in the retail landscape. For ecommerce businesses, planning for Q4 starts as early as possible (or in Q3, if not earlier!) to attract the attention and sales of seasonal shoppers. They’re factoring in everything from tech to shipping and taxes to promotions so they’re ready to go for the holiday months.
This is by no means a complete list of everything ecommerce businesses should focus on during Q4. However, if you’re new to the industry and feel a bit lost as to what you need to tackle next add these items to your agenda.
Optimize your website
Nothing turns off a potential customer faster than arriving to your site and finding that they cannot make a purchase. The pages load slowly, it’s difficult to navigate and nothing is organized. Worst of all? The site translates poorly from desktop to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
“Put your efforts towards optimizing your website now.”
If you haven’t already emphasized working on it, put your efforts towards optimizing your website now. Regardless of the devices customers use, their shopping experience should be seamless. Ecommerce businesses offering incredible deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, for instance, should be prepared for an influx of traffic. Plan for full capacity to avoid having your website and servers crash. Should something happen and your site crashes, work to quickly get it back up again. Consider extending your special offer beyond the holiday, as a way to make things right with the customers.
Determine if you will need to hire employees
Even if your business is based entirely online, you’ll still be covering a lot of bases offline. There’s customer service (answering and addressing emails and phone calls), social media (running campaigns and addressing customer concerns) and packaging the orders to ship out to your customers.
“During interviews, ask applicants to share stories of how they handled stressful situations.”
Can’t do it alone? Hire seasonal staff to give you an extra hand! Keep your eyes peeled for résumés from applicants with previous experience working during the holidays. During interviews, ask applicants to share stories of how they handled stressful situations and adapted quickly to their new work environment.
If you plan on hiring, even on a part-time basis, remember that your business will need to file for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is a requirement from the IRS before you hire anyone, so if you don’t already have it look into completing an EIN application ASAP.
Will you offer free shipping?
This is not a requirement for any business. However, free shipping is a huge perk for customers and is a great way to minimize cart abandonment.
If you decide to offer free shipping, determine what the anticipated delivery dates will be for purchases. Keep your customers in the loop with these dates, making them easily visible during checkout. Make sure you are ready to package and pack products up and get them over to the customers before or on their anticipated date.
And speaking of checkout…
Once you’ve got customers on this page, give them more reasons to keep shopping with you. Offer additional “recommended items” based off of what they’re already purchasing that they might add to their cart as a last-minute splurge. If you have an email newsletter, encourage them to check a box to sign up for it for even more deals, offers, and announcements to keep them loyal to your business.