Busy periods for your business should be cause for celebration rather than a source of frustration. While peak periods bring the promise of increased sales and greater profitability, they can be quite disastrous if your business is ill-prepared. Malfunctioning websites, clumsy checkout processes, and other retail faux pas will have your customers clicking away to your competitors.
Fortunately, you don’t need to leave anything up to chance when it comes to guaranteeing your customers an outstanding experience. We’re sharing 6 strategies that you can use to prepare your online store for the next peak season.
When Are the Main Peak Seasons Each Year?
Your business’s sales figures likely ebb and flow throughout the year. However, there are particular periods during which you’re guaranteed to see increases in purchases from your website.
End-of-Year Peak Season
The last quarter of each calendar year marks the busiest time for most ecommerce businesses. The US-based National Retail Federation notes that sales start to tick up in October and steadily increase throughout November and into December.
The jump comes from buyers getting ready for the holiday season – Halloween costumes or Christmas presents, anyone? – and key consumer holidays like Cyber Week (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday) as well as Singles’ Day.
Here are the events and dates you should take note of during this period:
- Halloween: 31 October
- Diwali: October/November (observed on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Indian calendar)
- Single’s Day: 11 November
- Cyber Week: Fourth Friday in November to the following Monday
- Hanukkah: November/December (starts on the 25th day of the 9th month in the Jewish calendar)
- St Nicholas Day: 6 December
- Christmas: 25 December
- Lunar New Year: Between 21 January and 20 February
Single’s Day has recently begun to catch on outside of China and it presents a massive opportunity for ecommerce businesses. The event generates hundreds of billions of dollars in sales each year, so it’s definitely an occasion to take note of if you want a slice of this revenue.
Mid-Year Peak Season
Although it’s certainly not as busy as the end-of-year period, the mid-year peak season sees plenty of sales for ecommerce brands. The main driver’s here are Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Parental appreciation is big business. According to the National Retail Federation, US consumers spent $28.1 billion on Mother’s Day gifts while dads were spoiled to the tune of $20 billion. Put these dates in your calendar to ensure you prepare for the mid-year rush:
- Mother’s Day: Second Sunday in May
- Father’s Day: Third Sunday in June
When Should You Start Preparing for Peak Seasons?
In short: the sooner the better. You don’t want to wait until the last minute to start preparing only to find that you haven’t left yourself enough time and miss out on potential sales.
Google Trends data shows that there’s a steady increase in users searching for the keyword ‘Christmas gifts’ from August to December each year. This tracks with data released by the National Retail Federation, which indicates that 6 out of 10 shoppers have already made at least one holiday purchase by the beginning of November.
Lead times are shorter for the mid-year peak season, with most sales taking place in the week leading up to either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Performance marketing experts Wunderkind found that sales generally peak on the Thursday before these holidays, with the day of the holiday coming in at a close second.
The nature of Cyber Week and Single’s Day means that retailers should expect to see a spike in transactions on the day of these events. This is because shoppers are usually only able to access deals on the designated dates.
6 Ways to Prepare Your Online Shop for Peak Seasons
There are many actions that you can take to ensure your ecommerce store is prepared for the increased traffic over the peak seasons. To help you focus your efforts, we’ve pinpointed 6 strategies that are certain to benefit your business.
1. Assess Your Website
As the main channel for attracting customers and making sales, the success of your ecommerce store starts and ends with your website. A poor user experience or infrastructure failure will increase cart abandonment and see you miss out on sales.
To get your site into tip top shape, it’s best to run tests to identify any potential issues and improvements you can make to enhance the customer experience. This includes analyzing load times, ensuring that your content is accessible on mobile, enhancing accessibility, and optimizing your checkout process (more on that later).
2. Be Smartphone Friendly
There’s been massive growth in the mobile shopping (also known as mobile commerce or mcommerce) arena over the past few years. Market research company eMarketer found that 61% of ecommerce journeys began on mobile in 2020. However, only 45% of transactions were completed on these devices.
The reason for the discrepancy between shoppers browsing and buying on mobile is likely down to the fact that mobile sites are often less user friendly than their desktop counterparts. To overcome this, you’ll want to ensure that your ecommerce store has a responsive design that’s optimized for the smartphone shoppers.
3. Boost SEO on Your Product Pages
Where your website ranks in the search results will have a massive effect on how likely a potential customer is to click through to your online store.
Target relevant keywords and add clear pictures showing multiple angles of each product. It’s also a good idea to add a product schema to your ecommerce store. This configuration helps search engines to identify important information on your site and can land your products in more prominent positions on search engine results pages.
Local SEO is another extremely useful tool for attracting customers. Optimizing your website to reach customers in the area where your business operates can help you to compete with much larger, national or international brands.
4. Optimize Your Checkout Process
Ensuring that you offer shoppers a frictionless checkout process that takes them from confirming their orders to providing payment details in as few steps as possible will reduce the likelihood of cart abandonment and help to boost sales.
Trust is a big factor when it comes to online shopping. Ensuring that your checkout page is branded with your logo and business colors and showcases the security measures you use is a great way to give your customers confidence that your business is legitimate.
Providing a variety of payment options is another critical component for increasing ecommerce sales. Popular methods like debit and credit cards, digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and shopping apps like PayPal are essential.
With Pay.com, your business can easily accept all of your clients’ favorite payment methods. Simply choose which methods you prefer and add them to your customizable checkout page in just a few clicks via our intuitive Pay Dashboard.
5. Offer Free Shipping
Global media measurement and analytics company Comscore found that 55% of shoppers abandon their carts due to shipping costs. Those customers don’t just click away from your website and not buy the goods they’d selected. They head over to a competitor that has more favorable shipping terms.
Offering free shipping during peak periods or setting a threshold at which buyers can qualify for free shipping are both great strategies to overcome this hurdle. If you’re worried that this might affect your business’s profitability, there are a variety of strategies you can use to reduce shipping costs for your small business.
6. Set Up a Rewards Program
Introducing a rewards program is one of the best ways to encourage customer loyalty. Offering buyers benefits for repeatedly purchasing from your ecommerce store will benefit your business not only during peak seasons, but also in quieter months.
Having access to special offers or discounts can make the difference in driving customers to buy from your brand rather than a competitors’. Bear in mind that you’ll need to create and promote your rewards program well ahead of the busy periods to ensure that your target audience is aware of the perks.
The Benefits of Working with Pay.com as Your Payment Service Provider
Painless payments are one of the biggest factors for reducing cart abandonment. Pay.com offers a full-service payment infrastructure that will enable you to accept payment with ease during the busy peak season.
You can add your branding and your customers’ favorite payment methods to our customizable checkout page in just a few clicks. Plus, you can display the PCI DSS logo on your website to show your customers that their transactions are completely secure.
With no-code solutions and developer-friendly APIs, you can quickly and easily embed our components into your website whether you’re new to selling online or an ecommerce expert.
The Bottom Line: Prepare for Peak Performance Season
Optimizing your online shopping experience will ensure that your business is able to perform at its best and turn a profit during peak season. These 6 strategies will help you to prepare for the surge in shoppers that are looking to buy your goods and services during these busy periods.
With Pay.com, you can streamline your checkout process to minimize the chances of cart abandonment. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to accept a variety of payment methods in just a few clicks and gain valuable customer insights to ensure that you can make smarter, more informed business decisions in less time.