How to Prepare Your Website for Christmas

Written by Wholegrain Team - November 2, 2016

It’s the beginning of November. The clocks have gone back, we’ve enjoyed an extra hour’s kip, but that’s the end of our peace and quiet for a while – the Christmas countdown has officially started…

It’s the season of good cheer and Christmas shopping, so if your website isn’t prepared for the holiday season you could be set to lose out on valuable income – something especially pertinent if you have an eCommerce store.

To help you get prepared for the holiday season, here are 11 simple tips to festive up your website in readiness for Christmas.

1. Get into the Christmas Spirit

Ensure your website has a festive feel so it looks the perfect place to do some Christmas shopping. Add some seasonal cheer by updating your logo. Don’t completely redesign it – you want your customer to know they’ve come to the right place – but consider adding a Santa hat, trailing a string of festive lights around it, or decorating with a garland or sprinkling of snow. You could consider a temporary change of colour scheme throughout your site to reflect the season, opting for reds, greens and golds, or introduce a snowing graphic for a gentle Christmassy feel or subtle graphics such as snowflakes, holly or a cute little robin.

If you have product images on your site, now is the perfect time to reshoot them. When people are shopping for gifts for their loved ones, they’re seeking items that evoke an emotional response, so shoot with this in mind. Consider showing the product in action, so if it’s clothing show it being worn by a model, etc. When you upload the images, you could add a temporary Christmas graphic or frame for that little festive touch, as long as it doesn’t detract from the product image.

2. Ensure You Have Plenty of Fresh Content

Online shopping is fast becoming everybody’s favourite way of buying gifts or stocking up on essentials, so it’s a naturally crowded marketplace. But competition increases intensely over the Christmas period as stores notch up their ad campaigns and online shopping reaches its frantic peak.

If you want your website to continue racking up hits you need plenty of fresh content to drive traffic your way. Because this is a busy time of year, prepare your blog posts in advance and schedule them to publish at regular intervals up to Christmas. Including posts with gift ideas for different people is a great way to focus your SEO efforts on your most popular products and help your customers find the perfect gifts. You could also reach out to bloggers who are likely to be preparing Christmas gift guides.

This is also a good time to check that all content on your site is up to date and relevant, including your about section, opening times, pricing, etc.

3. Display Your Top-Rated Items and Promote Gift Ideas

It can be difficult working out what to buy your loved ones for Christmas, so do everything possible to make your customers’ lives easier by suggesting suitable gifts. Display your top-selling or top-rated gifts on your homepage, so they can see popular items at a quick glance – if your site doesn’t have a customer rating/reviewing system, now could be the perfect time to fix that.

Consider adding special categories in your online catalogue so shoppers can for search gifts for their mum, dad, son, daughter, husband, wife, etc., or look for gifts by price. As an added bonus, this is great for your SEO!

4. Holiday promotions

If you want your website to stand out and entice Christmas shoppers to buy from you, introduce some Christmas promotions. One idea is to introduce a countdown to Christmas in an advent calendar style at the top of your site, with a different promotion or even a giveaway each day. This can be great fun and will make visitors more likely to return to your site on a daily basis.

Send your customers a Christmas card wishing them lots of joy and happiness for the festive season, and include links to popular items along with a special discount code to entice them to your site.

Social media gives you a goldmine of opportunities for promoting your business, so use it wisely in the run up to Christmas. Promote your seasonal collections and special offers, and offer special coupon codes for your followers, something that always encourages plenty of shares!

5. Offer Complimentary Gift Wrapping

If you don’t have a gift wrap option, consider adding it as a complimentary service for the Christmas period – you’ll be saving your customers valuable time and this could be the sweetener that sees them buying from you over your competitors.

Adding the option of including a note with the gift is another great sweetener – many people buy gifts from overseas so if they can buy a present ready wrapped with a note included, they can arrange for it to be delivered directly to the recipient from wherever they are in the world.

6. Ensure Contact Details Are Current and Consider Adding Live Chat

Make sure your contact details are correct, especially if you’ve recently moved or changed your telephone number, and check that your contact form is working properly. If people want to get hold of you to ask questions about a product, they need to be able to do this with the minimum of fuss and hassle.

If you don’t already offer live chat, this could be a great time to introduce it – it reduces customer waiting time as staff can deal with multiple queries at once rather than taking a single phone call at a time. If you already offer this facility, ensure you have more staff in the lead up to Christmas and make sure they have all important holiday information to hand, such as opening times, posting dates, etc.

7. Alert Customer to Christmas Posting Deadlines

On the subject of Christmas posting dates…

Despite their best intentions, many people will leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute, then be in a mad rush to receive the item in time for Christmas Day. Including your last posting dates in a prominent place at the top of your site means they can see, at a glance, whether you can satisfy their needs or not. If different products take longer to be dispatched, ensure this is clear.

8. Do Some Tidying up for Winter

The Christmas period accounts for a big percentage of many businesses annual sales, so if your website has problems over this period your sales will take a beating. To minimise the probability of website problems, carry out some basic maintenance before the Christmas rush.

If a website takes more than three seconds to load, there’s a good chance your potential customers will hop off and spend their money with your main competitors – and tolerance for slow-loading sites decreases at this time of year, as shoppers are hurried and stressed. So your site needs to be up to speed and functioning well. Monitor your load times, streamline pages that are content-heavy with lots of images, graphics or videos, and optimise all your media. If you have a lot of media, add a lazy loading plugin so the media loads as customers scroll down, rather than keeping them waiting as it downloads in one go.

Online shopping has changed over the years. Today, more people shop via their smartphones or tablets while on the move, and they use a variety of devices and screen sizes. So it’s imperative that your store looks good across the board – if customers need to swap to their desktop to get greater functionality to complete the sale or see the product details, they may just go elsewhere.

Optimise your checkout procedure now too. If people are faced with a complicated sign-up process to buy a gift from a site they may never use again, they probably won’t bother. Losing conversions simply because of your checkout process is a shame, for you and your frustrated potential customers.

9. Avoid Drastic Layout or Functionality Changes

While checking the speediness and functionality of your site, don’t be tempted to make large-scale changes. Regular customers like familiarity, especially when they have a large shopping list to plough through. So changing the user experience and functionality of the site could be disruptive to their shopping flow, causing them to abandon your site out of frustration. Plus, there are risks involved whenever you make major changes, and now is the time you need to be playing it safe.

Instead, focus on optimising your content, and marketing your offers and promotions.

10. Show off Your Security Credentials

Security is one of the prime concerns of all online shoppers, so give your customers peace of mind by displaying your security credentials prominently throughout your site. Installing a SSL/TLS is the minimum requirement, and opting for an EV SSL green padlock gives your customers added trust and assurances.

11. Provide Hassle-Free Gift Exchanges

Finally, gift shopping can be fraught with uncertainties, so buyers may hesitate to make a purchase if there is a complicated gift exchange policy. Make sure you have a hassle-free policy of gift exchanges and returns, and promote this feature to give your buyers peace of mind.

How do you prepare your website for Christmas? Do you have any great tips to add to our list? Tell us below…