The holiday season brings merchants the greatest gift of all: Increased sales.

Consider these holiday ecommerce stats:

Is your product feed ready to take advantage of this annual opportunity? Use these tips and tools to come out on top before 2017 hits.

1. Prepare early

Yes, it’s still summer, but you should start now. You want ample time to analyze last year’s performance, so you can pinpoint your successes and failures. You also want to try to predict possible trends so you don’t encounter any surprises. The more time you give yourself to plan, the better your store will perform.

If you launch new products, how and when will you show them off to your customers? Are you going to adjust or increase your advertising for the craze of the season? The holidays will be here before you know it, so figure out your game plan now.

2. Go beyond Cyber Monday

A few years ago, Cyber Monday was the big “buzz” in holiday e-commerce, replacing Black Friday as the day to shop online. But last year, retailers took it a step further – expanding their Cyber Monday and Black Friday to week-long deals.

Consider how and on what channels your business will participate. Also, don't overlook other shopping holidays, such as Small Business Saturday and Green Tuesday. Determine what day you want to make the changes to your product feed – and what day you want to end them.

3. Test new shopping channels now

The holiday season brings out more consumers than usual. You want your products to be available on the marketplaces or platforms where they will be seen the most, and to the groups of consumers most likely to be interested. It’s not uncommon for sellers to place their products on multiple platforms to reach all of the new groups of consumers looking to buy gifts or treat themselves for the holidays.

If you plan to expand to additional shopping channels for the holiday season, don’t wait. Get on those channels now. It will give you time to test, adjust, and optimize. That ground work will lead to a bigger pay-off once the holiday season hits.

4. Win the Amazon Buy Box

Having your product featured on Amazon’s detail page can be a huge boost to your sales. And that result can be amplified if you have that Buy Box during the holiday season.

So pinpoint products that are worth investing the time and effort. These may be products that are very popular, have a high margin, or are related to the holiday season. Then start working on your strategy to improve your product feed now.

When all other factors are the same, quality data makes the difference. Consider how you can optimize your data. Does your product title contain the best keywords? Is your description detailed? Are you using the most precise categorization? What other fields can you improve?

Check out more tips for winning the Amazon Buy Box here.

5. Offer free shipping

It’s one of the most powerful incentives you can offer your customers.

A study from the Wharton School of Business showed that consumers were more likely to select a free shipping offer that saves $6.99 than a discount on the product price that reduced it by $10. That means they were actually opting to pay $3.01 more in total – just to avoid paying for shipping!

So what does that mean for you? Even if you have to increase product prices a little to offer free shipping, it may still lead to an increase in sales.

When submitting your product feed, you’ll want to ensure you highlight free shipping offers by:

  • Including $0.00 in shipping price values
  • Including the term “Free Shipping” in available promotion text fields

Just be sure to take a closer look at low-margin products or heavy freight items to ensure you’re still turning a profit. You may also want to set a minimum threshold to qualify for free shipping. You can automate free shipping promotions in GoDataFeed by adding custom rules to set the shipping cost to $0.00 for product prices above a specific amount.

Final Thoughts

Preparation is truly the key to retail success during the holiday season. Businesses that start earlier and are more thorough in their planning are more likely to achieve their desired results.