Where has the time gone? It’s already Q4 of 2021 and the holiday season is closing in on us.

With so many people turning to the internet for their holiday purchases, are you ready to claim your share of the holiday sales cache? Having a game plan essential to your holiday success.

To help you, we’ve put together this holiday prep checklist that we hope will help you plan for what’s to come.

Know your timeline

At the most basic level, you and your team should have a shared calendar that communicates the timeline around your holiday planning.

Set the dates and times for:

When your sales events begin and end

When your sales events ad campaigns begin and end

Sending campaign e-mails and/or newsletters

Publishing social media posts

Sending out print marketing

Releasing new pricing and reverting to old pricing on your product feeds

When free shipping promotions begin and end

Shipping deadlines (USPS, FedEx, UPS)

Marketing planning

Start by taking time to reflect on last year’s big sales event.

What worked for your business? What worked for your competitors? What changes can you make to improve your marketing strategy this year? Then you can begin to implement this year’s marketing plan.

Make sure your marketing strategy is in overdrive:

Reflect on last year’s performance

Do an inventory of your marketing channels

Audit and segment your email list

Verify tracking pixels, set up relevant analytics systems (Facebook, Pinterest, Google)

Optimize website SEO for the holiday season

Optimize your product feeds

Revise ads to include holiday deals

Set up retargeting campaigns wherever possible

Adjust ad spend accordingly

Create newsletter or email blast content

Create and schedule social media content

Create transactional email content (empty cart emails, thank you, follow-up emails, etc.)

Create graphic assets (website banners, hero images, print materials, etc.)

Send pitches to blogs and gift guides

Secure plans for any offline events to promote your sale

Prepare for a busier Cyber Weekend

Prepare your team

The season is going to move fast, and you do not want your staff feeling flustered when the sales come pouring in. Delegate tasks to team members for the holiday season.

Make sure your team is prepped to:

Evaluate site security

Answer email inquiries

Respond to social media engagement (mentions, comments, etc.)

Help customers through live chat, phone support, etc.

Handle your merchandising strategy

Keep an eye on competing brands and sales

Collect data and measure your success in real-time

Coordinate holiday return processes

Sharpen your customer experience

If there's ever a time to polish up the path your customers have to travel on to get the end goal, it's right now.

Combat cart abandonment and prevent silly frustration by optimizing your customer experience. Take the time to verify that every aspect of your business is ready to handle what's to come.

Confirm the following:

Test your site on desktop and mobile

Test your server load capacity at loadimpact.com

Optimize your checkout page

Optimize landing pages

Test coupon codes

Verify inventory levels

Make order tracking easy and obvious

Update your shipping and returns policy

Review shipping and packing best practices with staff

Consider alternative forms of shipping (just in case)

Make sure buyers are thanked

Hope for the best, plan for the worst 

Planning for what is going to happen is important, but so is planning for what might happen. This means your team will be on the same page if something goes wrong with your business’s technology, partners, or products.

Plan for the following crises:

Shipping problems

Weather issues

Data breach

Website malfunctions

Product or supply shortage

Server issues

Final thoughts

The holiday season is always a busy time for brands and for sellers.

Follow these guidelines and check items off as you go to make sure your ecommerce marketing is in order before the holidays. Be sure to checkout our full Merchant's Guide to the Holidays for some more insight.

Good luck and happy holiday sales!