The holiday season is coming. That’s a lot of incoming traffic and a lot of potential customers for your ecommerce site.
But is your website ready?
Choosing the right partner for your ecommerce success is more essential than ever before. As COVID-19 hit, cities locked down, and many businesses closed their doors. The only place for people to buy and sell was online.
Ecommerce has been booming for years now, even before the COVID-19 crisis. Global retail ecommerce sales surged 27.6 percent during 2020, reaching an estimated worldwide total of $4.28 trillion.
In the USA, shoppers spent an estimated $201.3 billion online during the 2020 holiday season, a 45.2 percent increase over 2019.
A surge of American shoppers visited internet stores during the “Cyber 5”—the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday each year when consumers expect online deals.
Broken down by day, Fifty-six percent 57 percent said they shopped online on Black Friday, 56 percent on Cyber Monday, 54 percent on Thanksgiving weekend, 31 percent the day before Thanksgiving, and 24 percent on Thanksgiving Day.
“Cyber 5” dangers including bot-driven fraud, mobile threats, and site performance issues will drive away shoppers, increase cart abandonment, and lower conversion. To maximize holiday revenue, you must ensure your ecommerce site is performing optimally and secured from the homepage to checkout.
We’ve outlined a handful of objectives that every ecommerce business should follow to ensure they have everything under control not only for the holiday season but always.
Choose the Right Technology Partner For Your Ecommerce Business
These days, ecommerce technologies are booming like no other. On TrustRadius, the ecommerce software category grew 85 percent from January to May 2020.
Business owners understand the importance of the right technology to run their business smoothly & efficiently. And they have plenty of options.
Partnering with a knowledgeable and experienced technology provider can massively improve your results in both the short and long term and can really inject a lot of new energy & excitement into your business.
On the other hand, partnering with the wrong one can actually be damaging and waste valuable time and resources; however, before you start looking for a technology provider, ask yourself what your objective is and what does success look like? As Tony Robbins said, “You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is.” Although the needs of every ecommerce business vary, here are the major points your business needs to address:
- Server reliability that can handle increased traffic
- Safety of your customers
- Adequate inventory to fulfill demand
- Proven shipping & fulfillment process
- Accessible and well-trained Customer Service
- Third-party integrations check-up
Key Objectives to Care About
To stay ahead of the competition, you need to make sure the customer experience on your website is hassle-free and that your technology partner can support you in your efforts.
Follow these steps and make this your strongest holiday season yet!
An unstable website that is slow and overloaded is an absolute nightmare. Ecommerce experts know the direct correlation between slow page load speed and revenue, and it’s not good.
Customers can’t reach you or they lose interest when your web page doesn’t load in their 8-second attention span, and you lose money. Uptime is money. Literally.
Be ahead of your competitors experiencing downtime by working with a partner who can grow with you. Prevent problems by having a scalable and stable site that can handle increased demands on your web infrastructure.
The key factor of stability is the reliability of servers. For example, DirectScale’s servers are not “down” when the traffic increases. It automatically adapts up to the volume of traffic and eliminates lost sales and server overloads. DirectScale also adapts back down when there is less traffic so you never pay for unused servers.
It is important to have a partner that grows as your business grows and scales back during slower times to save you money.
In addition to the server reliability, you should make sure your site is loading fast as page speed affects consumers’ decisions to buy from your site.
Increase your conversions thanks to a reliable and fast-loading ecommerce site and make the holiday magic happen for your bottom line.
Safety & Easy Checkout
Your customer must trust you to make a purchase; that goes without saying. Anonymous checkouts are very important, especially for customers who purchase with you for the first time. They’re building trust in you.
If they’ve already added items to the shopping cart and reached the checkout page, they want to make a purchase from you. To keep it that way, you have to make the checkout process easy and safe.
Moreover, providing as many secure payment options as possible makes it convenient for your customers to click the Buy Now button. Ecommerce payment security plays a key role in the trust relationship between your company and your customers. Therefore, investing in great payment processing technology is essential.
As online shopping booms, so do cyber attacks. The value of losses caused due to ecommerce fraud is going to increase even more in 2021, going from $17.5 billion in 2020 to more than $20 billion. This represents a stunning 18 percent growth in a single year, according to Juniper Research.
The right technology partner delivers real-time fraud protection and offers overall security based on needed safety standards.
DirectScale has several partners already integrated into the platform that protect against these problems.
Making sure your inventory is adequately stocked for the holiday season requires some good inventory management, which is a standard feature of today’s ecommerce platforms.
Normally, inventory management helps companies identify which and how much of a product to order at what time. Through that tracking, you can identify and respond to trends to ensure there’s always enough stock to fulfill customer orders, and proper warning of a shortage so there’s time to restock before backorders are issued; however, the ongoing global supply chain crisis has been a massive challenge for both retailers and ecommerce businesses across the globe. Although you might not be able to do much about the current supply chain crisis, you can definitely focus on what you currently have in stock and how it is presented on your ecommerce website. Don’t let inventory shortfalls shorten your revenue gains.
Do all of your products have effective descriptions, attractive visuals, and accurate pricing? Can you turn on the “compare products” feature?
Focus on what you can influence. Update and optimize your current inventory presentation. You can update and refresh your website design, too, or create new micro-sites.
Shipping & Fulfillment
When was the last time you checked your shipment & fulfillment data? Are you ready for the increased volume of orders?
During the upcoming holiday season, you are more likely to experience an increase in orders. To prepare for the intensified traffic, determine how you will handle the extra shipping. There are three primary options for shipping and fulfillment:
- Handle it in-house
- Outsource it to a third-party logistics provider (3PL)
- Outsource it to a drop shipper
It’s up to you which option you choose but automate your shipping process as much as possible to save yourself the headache.
For this holiday season, you might also consider several shipping options:
- Free shipping
- Flat-rate shipping
- 2-day shipping
- Same-day delivery
- Overnight shipping
- Expedited shipping
- International shipping
- Eco-friendly shipping
Free shipping seems to be one of the most popular options among customers. About 74 percent of online shoppers say free shipping is one of the most important factors at checkout, and 94 percent have taken some type of action to qualify for free shipping. That includes ordering more product to meet a minimum.
Last but certainly not least, evaluate whether you can provide a better customer experience through your packaging. Today, some of the most successful and interesting brands are those using packaging to deliver an unboxing experience that goes beyond the product.
The hectic holiday season is approaching and you want to make sure your customers are getting the support they need, want, and deserve.
But before the rush begins, so you can be there for your customers, make sure your technology partner has you covered. Look for a partner that offers unlimited, 24/7 customer support, free of charge.
As the right partner supports you, you need to take care of your customers as holiday sales might be stressful. Be prepared to handle any questions and concerns, and make information readily available.
You might not be aware that 80 percent of businesses believe they provide great customer service but only one-tenth of customers agree. Are you part of that problematic equation? Your customers expect excellent service. If you provide it, they’ll keep coming back.
Here are a few best practices to build or to optimize your customer service:
- Deliver real-time support with live chat.
- Use more communication channels.
- Provide self-service support via FAQs, knowledgebases and chatbots.
- Act immediately on customer feedback.
- Make the right use of automation via email notifications, etc.
Integrations & Apps
When preparing for the holiday season sales, take a look at your third-party integrations. Are they updated and optimized? Can they handle the volume of traffic? Do you have all the customer touchpoints covered?
Make sure your technology partner has ready-to-use apps, seamless integrations with different service providers, and extensions to extend the functionality of your website.
In addition to all the important objectives mentioned above, it’s worth having a partner who has experience with omnichannel strategies and who is also a cultural fit with all the needed ethical practices.
If you are already rethinking your current platform or you want to try something new, here’s a list of software providers that can fit your needs.
If you want to keep it simple & cheap, Wix is a solution for you. This platform gives you the freedom to create, design, manage and develop your web presence exactly the way you want.
The biggest advantage of Wix is its simple website builder with ecommerce functionality that is easy to use. Also, you can use it for free with an option to upgrade to the premium version; however, it’s not the best solution for multi-channel selling or more sophisticated ecommerce activities.
Unarguably, one of the most ubiquitous ecommerce solutions is Shopify, and therefore, we have to include it on our list of possible technology partners. Like with other options on our list, no software installations or hosting services are required. Feature-loaded, scalable, and offering numerous templates for different niches, Shopify stores are generally plug-and-play ecommerce.
Opposed to Wix, Shopify is a good option for omnichannel commerce including Instagram and Facebook. It has powerful tools that help you find customers, drive sales, and manage your day-to-day tasks and sales; however, it’s one of the more expensive solutions.
Also note that Shopify charges a transaction fee on every sale (+ the payment processor’s normal fee) unless you use their proprietary payment provider, Shopify Payments. Some additional fees are unavoidable, such as adding an autoship feature and popups that upsell, which cost an extra $50 per month.
Another alternative is Volusion. It is a SaaS platform that is known for its user-friendly interface and some solid data analytics tools.
Volusion provides beautiful themes and ecommerce features like adding unlimited products, payment processing, inventory management, etc. It also comes with a mobile app that lets you manage your store on the move.
Volusion’s customers say it is good for small businesses; however, it has some cons, too, such as the lack of niche features and the lack of blogging tools.
First released in 2007, Magento is a feature-rich ecommerce solution that offers merchants flexibility and control over the user experience, content and functionality of their online channel. It’s built on open-source technology, which means it receives constant development originating within its open-source community; however, if you know web design basics and you don’t have a problem handling web hosting, then it might be an ecommerce solution that can meet all your needs. But if you don’t have technical expertise, you should go for some of the user-friendly solutions mentioned in this list.
Obviously, we’ve saved the best for last! DirectScale is a cloud-based software solution created in the USA that aims to help companies manage orders better, communicate more efficiently, improve their logistics, and much more.
Using their decades of industry experience, DirectScale offers more than just an ecommerce management platform.
It has designed unique revenue optimization tools on top of its commissions’ engine. By aggregating all of your sales data alongside our compensation profiler and editor, DirectScale gives you not only the insight but the ability to drive the growth of your business.
All of the functionalities this software solution offers are complete and configurable right out of the box.
Take your business to the next level with these great features of DirectScale:
- All-in-one ecommerce management. Easily update product offerings and information on the go.
- User-friendly & flexible software. DirectScale is absolutely user-friendly and anyone who has basic internet knowledge can successfully use it. That’s how intuitive it is!
- DIY configurability. You are in control; you don’t need to contact IT. With DirectScale, you can create a personalized web office experience that fits your needs and allows you to target distributors or a very specific segment of them at every step of the sales funnel.
- Stress-free management of sellers. Manage all your direct sellers’ activity, transactions and behaviors with this desktop software and mobile app. Whether you work with influencers, affiliates, distributors or employees, DirectScale manages it all.
- Training and self-development. Provide proper learning materials and training to your sellers so they have a better grasp of your business plan.
- Easy and self-managed commission payouts. Auditing and modifying your commission payouts and compensation plans is easier than ever. You can modify and audit your compensation plans and commission payouts on your own and without any extra costs.
- Scalable business operations. As it is a cloud-based solution, it eliminates lost sales due to volume peaks and server overloads. DirectScale keeps up with your momentum as you build your business. It grows alongside your business and scales back when you’re going through slower traffic times so you can save money and never worry about updating or upgrading your platform. It’s built to easily handle the smallest business up through the largest enterprises.
- Custom branding. Make your branding noticeable and always at the top of your users’ minds by creating unique login and landing pages segmented for different occasions, promotions, geos, languages and more, with your company’s branding. Building brand recognition and loyalty is something many companies struggle with, but it’s easy to do with DirectScale.
- Up-to-date REST APIs. Current REST APIs allow you to modify the platform and reconfigure it to better suit your needs.
- Unlimited customer support & no upgrade fees. Ever. Period!
- An unmatched self-serve Help portal (help.directscale.com) with getting started help, tips and tricks, how-to video tutorials, checklists, articles, a user community and more. It even includes direct access to content only developers want to see, like complete API documentation, examples and more.
In addition, DirectScale has recently built a new website with updated messaging features, which adds to the already fantastic overall experience of its users.
The right technology partner helps fast-growing businesses grow even more. It has some amazing built-in features and makes sure you strive not only during the holidays but always.
Luckily, you have several great ecommerce solutions you should consider when choosing the platform suitable for your business: Wix, Shopify, Volusion, Magento, and of course, DirectScale.
When choosing your partner, be sure to consider: the reliability of servers, the safety of your customers & easy checkout, inventory management functions, shipping & fulfillment processes, customer service access, and third-party integrations. All these are critical to your success.
If you want to truly reach your full potential, you seriously need to try DirectScale. Because it’s so highly customizable, no matter what kind of business you run, you can alter this already-powerful solution to be everything you will ever need in an ecommerce platform.
It’s simple to use, customizable & personalized and you will have all your ecommerce and direct selling activities under your control. With its advanced configurability, automated scalability, easy payouts, and other important features, it’s clear that no other software can match its level.
With the right partner, this can be your best holiday shopping season yet. Make it happen and get your website ready for holiday sales!