Posted on Oct 2, 2018

Website Maintenance Tips to Make Sure Your Site Can Handle the Holiday Surge

According to Shopify, holiday e-commerce sales in 2017 reached over $108 billion, with $1,138,574.17 in sales every minute during the peak of the busiest four days of the holiday season. And this year, e-commerce sales are anticipated to be even higher during the holidays than they were last year.

Whether you decide to build a new website or already have an established e-commerce website, you’ll want to make sure yours can handle the extra online traffic that’s expected this holiday season. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on opportunities to generate more revenue, outpace your competitors, and gain loyal customers who will follow you into the new year.

Here are some things you’ll want to do to ensure your website can handle and master the 2018 holiday surge.

Optimize Your Website’s Load Time, Speed, and Efficiency

Did you know that 47% of online consumers expect a website to load in two seconds or less and that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load? What’s more, for each additional second it takes for your website to load, you can lose up to 7% of your potential conversions. And 79% of customers have claimed that they will not return to a website with poor performance, while around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor online shopping experience.

During the holidays, it’s imperative that you optimize your website for speed or you will risk losing a high number of prospective customers. Here are some things you can do to ensure your website is running as fast and as efficiently as possible:

  • Minimize the number of HTTP requests
  • Lower server response time
  • Enable compression
  • Minify resources
  • Allow browser caching
  • Optimize images
  • Improve CSS delivery
  • Prioritize above-the-fold content
  • Reduce the number of plugins
  • Decrease redirects

For more detailed information about how you can optimize your website’s speed, read 4 Ways to Improve Your Website Speed.

And don’t forget to test your website’s performance. See Top 15 Free Website Speed Test Tools of 2018 to get started.

Guarantee You Have a Reliable Web Hosting Server

Oftentimes a website will operate poorly and can even crash completely if it has the wrong type of hosting, or if it’s hosted on an unreliable web hosting server. Make sure you have the appropriate web hosting that your e-commerce website requires and that it runs on servers that are properly maintained and secure.

Make Sure Your Website Automatically Backs Up Data

Select the right web hosting option to automatically keep your customer and inventory databases backed up. In case your website crashes or is otherwise compromised, you’ll be able to restore its most recent versions without much hassle so that it’s never down while your customers are trying to shop. Keeping your databases up-to-date and backed up ensures the integrity of your website, your customer data, and your customers’ experiences.

Focus on Your Users’ Experience

When auditing your website’s performance and overall upkeep for the holidays, make sure it focuses on your users’ experience. Have a simple design and theme that doesn’t take too long to load. Avoid any unnecessary animations or elements that bog it down, such as an outdated plugin and unoptimized images and videos. And make sure your website’s navigation is simple so that users can easily scroll through many of your products and inventory and check out easily.  

Update Your Website’s SEO

Another way to optimize your website’s performance is to update its search engine optimization (SEO). Fix or delete any broken links on your website with a tool like Screamingfrog. Delete any content, images, themes, or plugins that are outdated or no longer being used. Update your website content, title descriptions, and meta tags so they align with what customers will be searching for during the holidays. And verify your website’s Google ranking with Google Analytics, so you know where to focus most of your SEO efforts.

Highlight Your Holidays Offers and Discounts

When your offers and discounts are easier to find and secure, your users’ visits on your website will take less time on average. Expedite the length of their visits by highlighting your holiday offers and discounts on your homepage and landing pages or via a static banner that appears on every page. Make it easy for users to find and click on your holiday offers via a large button that’s prominently displayed so that they can purchase your discounted items in just a few clicks. This will help manage the flow of user traffic your website receives at any given time without affecting your revenue.

Verify Your Coupon Codes and Holiday Promotions and Make Sure They Work

Test coupon codes and promotional holiday offers on your website thoroughly before you advertise them and share them. It should be easy and quick for customers to enter a coupon code to receive a discount before checking out, and it should never slow them or your website down. And if you have multiple offers and discounts running simultaneously, keep a library or directory of your codes so that they’re easy to access and find.

Rely on High-Quality Tools to Track and Verify Your Inventory

To keep your website running smoothly on the front end, make sure you have a reliable tool that accurately keeps track of your inventory for you on the back end. Select a tool that can track and manage hundreds of thousands of items as well as shipping.

Use Chatbots and Automate Customer Service Inquiries

To quickly handle customer inquiries and concerns, consider adding automated chatbot functionality to your website. Chatbots help website visitors get immediate responses to common questions so they can check out much faster.

In addition, a “Frequently Asked Questions” or FAQs page will give visitors a way to find answers to their questions. And make it easy for customers to contact you directly via email or phone from their mobile devices with the click of one button. During the holidays, you must be prepared to handle more customer service inquiries.

Send Automated Emails for Payment and Shipping Information

Automated emails with payment confirmation and trackable shipping information will prevent customers from having to visit your website multiple times to log into their accounts to check on their orders. And to decrease the amount of non-revenue-generating traffic on your website, allow customers to send emails to an automated inbox when they have questions about their orders.

Minimize the Number of Clicks to Check Out – and Make it Easy to Pay

It should be easy and fast for customers to pay for products on your website. Make it possible for them to check out in three steps or less. Accept a variety of different payment options, including PayPal, Google Wallet, and Apple Pay. And for returning customers, have order forms that auto-populate with their saved shipping and payment information so that they don’t have to re-enter it every time they purchase something from you.

Include Trust Elements on Your Website and Make Security a Top Priority

Above all else, make sure your website is safe and secure, especially if it’s processing multiple customer payments and information at once. Your website will be at risk, and so will its visitors, if you don’t ensure that it has an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate or up-to-date security scripts and plugins. To get started, check out Tech World’s Best Vulnerability Scanners 2018.  

If you want your website to be able to handle the holiday surge, follow the tips above to keep it optimized and built for visitors to use efficiently.

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