Ho-ho-ho! The holiday season is in full swing! As an e-commerce business, this is the time to prepare your Shopify store for the upcoming busy period. However, to master this holiday season, you need to be prepared for the sudden influx of clients. It can be a challenge, especially if you are new to Shopify, but with the right preparation and strategy, your online store will be ready for the holiday rush. Today, we’re here to assist you in getting your Shopify store ready for the holidays.

When should you begin holiday preparation for the Shopify e-commerce website?

The earlier, the better. Some Shopify stores start prepping for holiday sales almost a year in advance, so everything goes smoothly during the rush. Even if you don’t have that much time, we still recommend starting to plan ahead at least two months before the holidays start.

A common mistake to avoid when preparing your Shopify store for holiday sales is not creating a plan. Make a plan and timeline for what needs to get done before the rush period and during it.

The holiday season is a chance to introduce new clients to your store, but you should also focus on existing customers. Your sales funnel should capture both sets of people by offering specialized holiday discounts for returning shoppers and attractive offers for those who are visiting your store for the first time.

16 ways to prepare your Shopify online store for the holiday season sale

Create a holiday theme for your Shopify Store

Make everyone feel festive by creating a custom holiday theme and store design that follows the holiday season. Add festive banners, images, copy, and colors to your store to get customers in the holiday spirit. Even a single page with holiday-themed content will do the job, but you might want to put an emphasis on the home page. This is where you have a chance to make a stunning first impression, and – who knows – maybe that will spark a sale or two?

christmas website inspiration - L'Occitane

Create holiday-focused pages

Festivities often come with special offers, discount code options, and promotions. Separate those pages from the rest of the content and make them look attractive to the audience. This way, your customers will know exactly where to go for holiday-specific deals and get the message about them as soon as possible. And whenever they feel like it, they can switch back to the regular pages.

Don’t make it look like any external website – your holiday-specific pages should be unique. This will help differentiate what’s new from what the audience already knows and builds anticipation for those offers.

Optimize product pages

Here, it’s more than just adding some festive pictures. You should be thinking about what shoppers will be looking for and how to present it in the most convenient way possible. Add detailed product descriptions, clear visuals, rich metadata, and informative reviews.

You can, for example, create a gift guide page to showcase the best gifts from your store and explain why they make great presents. Not only would it work as an excellent reference for customers, but it can also be used for promotional materials and content marketing.

Create gift bundles and promote your special deals online

Buy 2 and get 1 free! Gift boxes! Every customer loves deals, so create some special offers that will catch the eye of your new customers. For you, it’s a chance to increase the average order value for holidays.

Your audience simply expects you to provide them with great deals. Promote your gift bundles or special offers by running email marketing campaigns, creating content around them, and optimizing the landing pages for each promotion.

Prepare discount coupons and gift cards

Ok, even if you have the greatest deals, your target group needs to actually use them. You should prepare discount coupons or gift cards for your customers to get a great price on their purchases. Discount codes can either be used in-store or online, depending on what works best for your business model.

Also, the holiday season is the season to be jolly, but also the season when the most gift cards get sold. People who have no idea what to buy as a present will opt for gift cards so they can let the recipient decide what they want. Online businesses should capitalize on that.

christmas gift cards - vetsak

Use announcement bars

If you want to highlight some special info in your store – be it a promotion, festive message, or discount coupon – you can use an announcement bar. It’s a small, eye-catching banner that appears on the top of all pages in your store.

You can leverage the festive season and create a special announcement bar to get customers in the festive mood. For example, creating and linking to some gift guides via smart bars can help you boost sales, as many holiday shoppers look for inspiration around.

Your announcement bar can also include a countdown timer that shows customers when the offer expires and creates a sense of urgency. It can open a new page in a new window, or redirect to other Shopify apps. The possibilities are endless!

Use holiday shopping season popups

Some say popups can be annoying, but the truth is that they work. You can create special popups for your website and use them to attract more customers. People won’t mind a bit of festive cheer, so don’t be afraid to get creative with your holiday-themed popups.

You can use them to offer discounts for sales, display the holiday promotions you are running, or even get people to sign up for your email marketing campaigns. No matter what, it has to be relevant – and while it might not get people to buy immediately, it will increase the chances of them returning in the near future.

Offer gift wrapping on the Shopify website

Busy people have no time (or skill) to wrap gifts, and you can use this to your advantage. You can offer gift-wrapping services and make it easier for customers to get their gifts ready for the holidays.

Many retailers can create special offers like “Spend $50 or more and get free gift wrapping”. Not only would it be a great service to provide customers, but it would also increase their order size and boost your sales.

For you, it might seem like a small task, but for the customers, it would be a huge relief and can make them decide to purchase from your store. This saves time for many of those who need or want to save time.

Provide fast shipping for last-minute holiday sales

Many of your site visitors who land at your store probably have a specific time frame to purchase. Among them, you will also have last-minute shoppers who wait until the last minute to purchase their gifts.

Whatever the case, you should make sure you provide fast shipping options so that customers can get their purchases before or during the holiday season. This will give them the opportunity to purchase from your store and increase your sales.

Should you offer free shipping? Let’s face it – these stores that offer customers free shipping over a certain order size get more sales, and you should consider this option as well. People love free shipping, and it’s often the deciding factor when it comes to choosing where to place an order. So why not start offering free shipping now? Even if it’s a limited free shipping offer, it can still help you boost your sales. Also, having options like next-day, or even same-day delivery, could really help increase sales for holidays, as well as average order value.

last minute christmas offers - vetsak

Review your returns policy

Many e-commerce stores make one mistake – they forget to review their returns policy for holiday sales. This is important, because people who buy gifts for others may want to exchange them after the holidays.

That’s why it’s essential that you review your return policies to make them clear for everyone. You should also provide a generous returns window so that shoppers have plenty of time to exchange their items after the holidays.

Your return policies need to be prominently displayed on your website and on product pages. This way, customers will know what to expect before making a purchase from your store – and expand their festive experience with your brand.

Prepare customer support

This upcoming holiday shopping season is going to be huge, and you need to check if your customer support is up for the challenge. After all, if your shoppers have any questions about their orders or products, they should be able to contact you quickly and get a helpful response.

You will definitely receive more inquiries during the holiday season, so double-check if your customer support team is ready to handle a larger workload. Consider offering longer customer service hours or hiring extra staff if necessary.

You should also review the contact information you have on your e-commerce website and update it if needed. This will help clients reach out to you more easily, and increase their customer experience with your Shopify store.

Customer experience is extremely crucial during the holiday season sale, so you need to take the necessary steps to improve it. Invest in customer service, create a FAQ page and a live chat that allows customers to get in touch with your store quickly, and provide detailed delivery information on each product page.

Improve your checkout process

It’s surprising that there are still many online retailers who forget about checkout optimization. During the holidays, you will probably get more traffic than usual, and if your checkout process is slow or confusing, they won’t complete their purchase.

Review your checkout landing page and fix any issues that may prevent your target shoppers from completing their orders. You may want to consider getting rid of unnecessary steps in the checkout process, as well as enabling guest checkout. Not everyone feels comfortable providing too many personal details, so offering a guest checkout option could be beneficial.

Check the speed performance of the Shopify Store

You still have time to review the speed performance of your Shopify store and make sure it’s up to par. If your website is slow, potential clients will leave and shop elsewhere. In all that holiday vibe, it’s easy to lose track and simply forget about the performance.

Review the loading speed of your Shopify store. Run a speed test and check for any potential issues that may be affecting the loading times. Optimize your product images, check how they display on a particular mobile device, verify if full page cache is enabled, and see if you can reduce the number of HTTP requests.

Simply – make online shopping fun for your loyal customers and new online shoppers in your Shopify store these upcoming holidays.

Plan out additional payment options

To fully prepare your Shopify store for the holiday season, you should consider adding or adjusting payment methods in your store. As we know, people have different preferences when it comes to paying for their purchases online. Some prefer paying with a credit card, while others may opt for e-wallets or other payment methods.

Offer more than one payment option on your Shopify store and check if all available payment gateways are properly configured. This way, shoppers won’t be limited to a single option when finalizing their purchase. And, in the full holiday spirit, they want to have it as streamlined as possible.

Improve the in-store search feature

Finding relevant products shouldn’t be a complex task for online shoppers. Optimize your Shopify app in advance, then! Review the terms and filters customers use in your store and ensure they are displayed accurately when someone searches for a particular item.

You may also want to consider investing in an automated search feature for your Shopify store that suggests related products as customers type in their queries. This will make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for without having to manually search through the entire store.

With many Shopify apps, you should also be able to set up different search filters that can help customers narrow down their choices. To facilitate the sales process for shoppers these holidays, you should ease the pain of searching straight away. 

Analyze your performance for the next holiday sales wave

What worked well this season? What didn’t?

Analyze your performance and take notes on what worked best. This will help you better prepare for the upcoming holiday season. Did some products perform better than expected? Which ones didn’t sell as much? Did you get more site visitors? Have the services like gift wrapping or holiday discounts worked as expected? Was the Shopify app working properly? Analyzing data can also give you insight into which strategies to keep and which ones to discard.

Review the performance of your store and make necessary adjustments. You may also want to consider changing or adding new offers or promotions for the 2023 holiday sales.

Seven tips to follow for Shopify stores

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Focus on customer service and communication
  3. Introduce add-on services
  4. Make sure all payment options are available
  5. Optimize the product search feature in your store
  6. Test all aspects of your Store before the holidays
  7. Offer more than one payment option

Master your Shopify holiday preparation

Are you on the same page with the preparation of your Shopify store for the holidays? Now is the time to make sure everything is in order. Start by testing all aspects of your e-commerce store, including payment processing, customer service, product display, shipping options, and more. Only in such a way shall you guarantee that your customers will have the best holiday shopping experience at your store. Happy – and profitable – Holidays!