12 steps to prepare your online store for Christmas 2023

Get ready to jingle all the way through the holiday rush! Christmas 2023 is actually not that far away and every moment counts when readying your online store for the festive season. To help you efficiently prepare and maximise your holiday sales, here are 12 essential tips to prepare your online store for the Christmas sales season. These easy-to-apply tips can help seize opportunities hidden in plain sight during the festive season and turn the busiest time of the year also into the most profitable period for your business.

So, here are 12 tips to get ready to embrace and celebrate a lucrative Christmas 2023!

1. Start early!

Based on our historical online payments data, we have seen a spike in sales already in the second half of October. Preparations take time so you should be getting ready for Christmas sales campaigns already in August-September (if not earlier). Remember, preparation is key, and an early start can pave the way for success.

2. Inventory check

Once your sales peak, you have to have products ready to be shipped out, so make sure all the products are adequately stocked. Pay particular attention to the best sellers and seasonal items (like Christmas-related items, gifts, clothing, or any other items suitable for your online store).

3. Unified Christmas campaign theme

Spruce up your online store and social media platforms with Christmas-themed visuals, graphics, and content to attract customers and infuse a festive spirit. It doesn’t have to be all too Chistmas’y, just choose some design elements that you’ll be using throughout all channels.

Why not even update your transactional emails to bring your customers a bit of a Christmas whimsy while they wait for their order?

Hint for inspiration: the Christmas-themed computer screen mockup image seen above is from Freepik.com.

4. Provide gift guides

Finding the perfect Christmas gift can be challenging. Make it easier for your customers by providing them with great gift ideas and lists, and they will be more likely to purchase from your online store. Create multiple Christmas gift guides or store categories with different themes, such as:

  • For him
  • For her
  • For kids
  • For the whole family
  • Gifts under 25€
  • Gifts under 50€
  • Funny gifts
  • Sporty gifts

Once you have created the gift guides, don’t forget to promote them on social media, newsletters, on your homepage, and all other marketing channels you use.

Bonus idea: In social media, you can additionally share one gift idea a day throughout December to keep your followers engaged.

5. Content is king

Create enough content about your campaigns, gift guides, products, or even about your easy checkout and return processes and so on. The key here is to share all of this content often (in social media, newsletters etc.) so that your store would be on people’s top of mind. You can even showcase your products in a simple phone-recorded video (maybe an unboxing video?). Don’t worry about it not being done professionally–it will feel authentic and shoppers will feel more confident to buy when they see the product in action.

6. Focus on retargeting ads

If you are planning to invest in paid advertisements (in fact, you really should), then retargeting ads are a must-have. It is always easier to sell to someone who has already been to your website and this is what retargeting ads are all about: these ads are displayed only to those people who have previously visited your online store (and this means they have already shown interest in what you offer). You can specify which pages to take into account and even display the exact products the person was looking at in your online store. Retargeting ads can be set up with platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to name a few.

Bonus tip: With online sales going up during this busiest shopping season, so will the ad cost. Make sure to set a budget for your ad campaigns and keep a close eye on their performance on a daily basis.

7. Free (or premium) gift wrapping

Unless it’s a new bicycle or a lampshade, your customers will definitely need to wrap their gifts. If you want to increase sales, then offer gift wrapping as a premium add-on or make it a free option as a nice gesture. Your customers will appreciate the convenience of having their gifts wrapped for them, and it will differentiate your online store from others.

8. Prepare your customer support

Your customers want answers as fast as possible. Strengthen your customer support to handle increased inquiries and complaints during peak sales periods. Real-time chat can be very effective–customers get their answers quickly and won’t lose the momentum of shopping. Also, prepare polite, well-written answers to most common inquiries. This will save your team a lot of time and will unify the support team’s tone of voice.

9. Optimise for mobile (now more than ever)

Ensure that your online store is fully optimised for mobile users, as most shoppers do their holiday shopping on their phones. Our payment data confirms that over half of all purchases are done via smartphone, so we have truly arrived in the era of mobile-first ecommerce. This means your store’s design, navigation and checkout process have to be fully mobile-friendly.

Oh, and have you already enabled Apple Pay and Google Pay in your online store for a superfast checkout?

10. Actually test out your online store’s user experience

Quite often the technical side (the checkout process, transactional emails) is initially set up and then forgotten. Maybe there are some things that should be improved? Make a test purchase and see how the checkout process goes, what emails you’ll receive, etc. Remove all the obstacles that might stop your online store visitors from buying or that might give them an unpleasant experience.

Remember, even incremental changes may bring a noticeable bump in your conversion rates.

11. Offer hassle-free returns

Establish a straightforward and customer-friendly return policy to reassure your customers and encourage more sales. Ensure the policy is easy to comprehend, accessible, and clearly outlines details about the return process, timelines, and conditions. The key here is to make it visible for your online store’s visitors, so it would be wise to point it out in the header, footer and/or in the checkout process.

Offering hassle-free returns enhances customer satisfaction and cultivates long-term loyalty.

12. Highlight delivery dates

Due to the Christmas rush–and potential shipping delays–clearly state last order dates to guarantee delivery before Christmas. You can create a sense of urgency, too: use countdown timers for sales to encourage customers to make immediate purchases.

It would also be a nice touch to let your customers know when they will receive the products if they order today.

Bonus idea: Ensure you have the right payment and shipping options

Offering a range of payment methods that your customers actually want to use can increase the likelihood of them completing their purchase. These payment methods can include card payments, bank payments, and even “buy now, pay later” options. By they way, our payment data indicates that more and more people are wanting to pay with Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Similarly, by offering multiple shipping options at different price points, you can give your customers the flexibility to choose the shipping method that best fits their needs and budget. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction and increased sales for your online store.

To sum up, a successful sales period always revolves around the customer. These tips, when started early and executed effectively, can significantly drive your sales already this Christmas. Success lies just a few wise steps away, so prepare early, build on these insights, and set your online store on the track to succeed. Here’s to a successful and fulfilling festive sales season!