I know, summer?s barely over and Christmas prep now seems to directly coincide with storing the barbeque.But, while it might feel a little early to start hanging the stockings, when it comes to business, preparations need to be in full swing right now to properly capitalise on seasonal opportunities and make sure your business is online-ready for the Christmas rush. Decorate your website
Those updates and edits you?ve been putting off to make your website sing? It is important to act on these now. Including some eye-catching seasonal deals front and centre will ensure stressed customers visiting your website will be able to effortlessly navigate your webpage. Don?t let images or graphics slow down the overall loading time however. Online Christmas shopping should be efficient and effortless compared to fighting it out on the high-street. At any other time of the year, making people wait through slow loading pages and inefficient layout is inconvenient, but making them wait in the run up to Christmas is unforgivable. They?ll go spend their Christmas money elsewhere. Increase your website bandwidth
Christmas is an incredibly busy season, so making sure your website can cope with the influx of customers is vital. Contact your server host about expanding your bandwidth over the Christmas period to ensure you are more than ready for the increase in web traffic. Ultimately, businesses won?t be selling anything if their website goes down and, chances are, customers won?t be back ? they will simply go elsewhere. Payment preparation
This is, arguably, the most important factor of becoming online-ready for Christmas. A single-click checkout streamlines the customer experience and helps avoid last minute dropouts. Further to this, offering alternative payment methods is a great way to open the doors to a variety of customers and a choice over payment gives them one less reason to shop elsewhere. Make a difference
It?s the little things that really make a difference. Consider including a small, bespoke treat, an individual handwritten card, or a discount on a future purchase to make your customers feel valued and in the Christmas spirit. Loyalty schemes will also ensure you remain firmly in their mind and keep them coming back in the future. Delivery options
No one likes the stress of whether a gift will ? or will not ? arrive on time, especially around Christmas. Whether they?ve been super organised or have left it to the last minute, customers are often weighing up the delivery options before they have even committed to making a purchase. Delivery options have therefore become big business for online marketing strategists, and offering free delivery or next-day delivery is proving to be an enticing factor for online shoppers. The UK-based online fashion and beauty store ASOS has gone one step further, offering free returns on top of their standard free delivery (delivery up to 5-7 working days) as an added bonus. This is clearly signposted on their website, so customers don?t have to worry about this seemingly simple add-on whilst perusing the woman?s wear. Be social
This is a great outlet for letting your customers know you?re ready for Christmas. Social media is without doubt an invaluable marketing tool and is a great place to entice customers with seasonal deals and promotions. It is also a platform to spread positive feedback about your business from existing customers ? nothing is more effective than old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Henry Lewington is managing director of WebEden.co.uk.
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