The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and business owners are preparing for the busiest time of the year. It's a time of excitement, anticipation, and higher sales projections for many online retailers. 

A recent survey found that 56% of consumers plan to do more holiday shopping this year than last year. In other words, it's a golden opportunity for companies to attract attention, gain new customers, and build loyalty.

However, with increased traffic, higher demands, and shorter deadlines, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. In this guide, we'll help you prepare your store for the holiday season in 2023 and ensure you're not only ready for the rush but can also take advantage of it.


8 Tips for Preparing Your Store for the Holiday Season in 2023

Here are some surefire ways ‌to put your eCommerce business in position for success during the holiday rush this year.


1. Start by Assessing Your Past Performance

Evaluate your past performance to prepare for the 2023 holiday season. Identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions about inventory, warehousing, human resources, and marketing.

Compare your past performance to your set goals to identify areas for improvement. For example, if you aimed to increase sales by 10% but only achieved a 5% increase, you may need to change your marketing strategy or product mix.

When you understand your past performance, you can make more informed decisions about inventory, staffing, and marketing for the upcoming holiday season. 

Let's say you notice increased website traffic the week before Christmas. You can recruit an IT team to handle traffic to meet the higher demand for your products. 

When assessing your past performance, consider the following:

  • Sales Data: Total sales, sales by product category, channel, and region
  • Customer Behavior Data: Demographics, purchase history, and website traffic
  • Marketing Performance Data: Click-through rates, conversion rates, and sales lift


2. Get Your Inventory Right

The holiday season is the busiest time of year, so ensure you have enough stock to meet demand. 

Evaluate your current inventory levels and identify gaps by comparing actual inventory to previous holiday seasons. 

Once you know where you stand, develop a plan to fill the gaps, such as placing orders with manufacturers or transferring inventory from other locations. 

Stockouts are common during the holiday season, so order new inventory early to give suppliers enough time to fulfill your order and get the products to you before the holiday rush.

Here are ways to avoid inventory mishaps during the holiday season:

  • Use inventory management software to track levels, identify discrepancies, and place orders.
  • Set reorder points to avoid running out of stock.
  • Use cross-docking to unload incoming shipments and load them directly onto outgoing shipments, avoiding the need to stock inventory.
  • Provide omnichannel fulfillment options so customers can buy online, pick it up in-store, or order and have it delivered to their homes. This technology can reduce out-of-stock items and improve customer satisfaction.


3. Update Your Website and Marketing Materials

Ecommerce is booming, and holiday shoppers are increasingly turning to online stores to find gifts. So, the next tip for preparing your store for the 2023 holiday season is to create a solid online presence.

People are likelier to click through sites with festive themes and related content when searching for holiday products and services. Here's a great example from Madewell. 

Black Friday sale banner on Madewell website

Source: Madewell

An outdated website and marketing materials can make your business seem closed or uncompetitive. Here are some tips for creating a holiday marketing campaign:

  • Add a holiday theme to your website. Use festive colors, images, and graphics on your homepage and other important pages. You can also create a holiday-themed landing page highlighting your promotions and product offers.
  • Offer discounts and special promotions. The holiday season is a great time to offer discounts and special promotions to attract customers. These could include discounts on specific products or services, free shipping, or buy-one-get-one-free offers.
  • Target your ads. Targeted advertising helps you reach new customers who may not be familiar with your brand. Run targeted ads on social media and search engine ads to reach potential customers interested in your products or services.
  • Create holiday-themed content. Create blog posts, articles, infographics, or videos relevant to the holiday season to attract new website visitors. Share your holiday-themed content on social media and in your email marketing campaigns.
  • Create a gift guide. Gift guides help customers find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Create guides based on different interests, budgets, and age groups. Include links to your products in the guide.

Madewell The Gift Well Guide

Source: Madewell


4. Prepare Your Customer Support Team

Due to increased customer inquiries (thanks to higher purchase volumes and questions about products, shipping, and returns), customer service strategies are crucial for the holiday season.

Also, shoppers are often more stressed and less patient during the holidays, so having a well-trained team will help to handle high volumes of requests and difficult interactions.

To meet the high demand of buyers, you may need to increase the number of employees per shift. You can use tools to stay organized with your holiday employee schedule. An employee hours tracker app can easily track your team's working hours and shift changes.

But don't stop there. Train your new employees on holiday shopping trends and frequently asked questions (FAQs) to answer customer questions quickly and accurately.

You might also consider implementing a system to resolve customer issues efficiently. For example, use a customer relationship management (CRM) system or support ticket system to report and resolve customer issues in a timely manner.

Alternatively, you can always leverage an AI-powered chatbot to help with simple customer service tasks like tracking orders or helping customers find product recommendations. 

Olipop website

Source: Olipop

TL;DR: Provide your team with the ‌resources and tools they need to provide top-notch customer service.


5. Offer Flexible Shipping and Payment Options

During the holiday season, people often shop for gifts and other items. They may not have time to wait for a package to be delivered during traditional business hours. 

Offering flexible shipping options, such as same-day delivery, weekend delivery, and evening delivery, can make it easier for customers to get their orders when needed.

However, despite offering flexible shipping options, studies still show that 74% of online shopping carts get abandoned. One of the main reasons for cart abandonment is the lack of desired payment options.

By offering various payment options, including online payments, mobile payments, and buy now, pay later (BNPL), you can reduce cart abandonment and increase online sales.

BNPL options are growing in popularity, with nearly 60% of online shoppers planning to use them during the 2023 holiday season.

Why? Because it allows customers to spread the cost of their purchases over time, which can be helpful for those on a tight budget.

The Buy Now, Pay Later Process - LOGO

Source: LOGO

Recent data shows that America's average credit card debt is about $5,910, indicating a significant financial burden for many households.

Therefore, offering BNPL options should take priority when considering how to prepare your store for the holiday season in 2023. 


6. Market Your Holiday Sales and Promotions

Marketing your holiday sales and promotions is essential because consumers actively seek deals and discounts during this time of year. 

By marketing your discounts and promotions, you let consumers know about the great deals they can get at your store, leading to increased sales during the holiday season and beyond.

Holiday sales and promotions are a great way to attract new customers to your store. Here's a great example by Abercrombie & Fitch.Abercrombie and Fitch holiday sale on website

Source: Abercrombie & Fitch

When you offer exclusive deals and discounts, consumers are likelier to try your store over your competition. You can turn these new customers into loyal ones by providing excellent products and services.

Promoting your holiday sales and promotions is also a great way to build brand awareness. Here are some tips to boost your holiday sales and promotions:

  • Use social media to reach a broad audience and advertise your holiday sales and promotions. Create engaging posts and videos highlighting your offers and discounts, and host contests and giveaways to create excitement and buzz.
  • Use email marketing to send regular newsletters to your customers with information about your latest offers and discounts. You can also use email marketing to send targeted messages to specific customer groups, such as regular or new customers.
  • Use paid advertising to reach a wider audience and promote your holiday sales and promotions. Run paid ads on social networks, search engines, and other websites, targeting them to your ideal customers.
  • Offer exclusive discounts and promotions to your loyal customers. It helps make them feel valued and encourages them to continue shopping at your store.
  • Organize contests and giveaways to create excitement and buzz around your holiday promotions and sales. Give away products, gift cards, or other prizes, and promote your contests and giveaways on social media and email marketing campaigns.

Pro Tip: Are you looking for more ways to stand out from the sea of Black Friday and Christmas deals? Give digital business cards a try for your online store this festive season.

Why? They enable contactless networking, making it easy to share contact information, holiday promotions, and special offers with customers, suppliers, and partners.

Digital business card

Source: Mobilo

You can also integrate digital business cards with your loyalty programs and send digital receipts and emails with QR codes in your signature. It's a simple yet effective way to enhance the shopping experience and encourage customer loyalty during the holiday season.

The small details matter. Make the most of every customer interaction. 


7. Make It Easy for Customers to Return

Making it easy for customers to return unwanted gifts is essential for preparing your store for the holiday season. 

When customers know they can easily return a gift if they're not satisfied, it gives them the confidence to shop with you in the first place. 

Additionally, customers who are unhappy with a gift are more likely to leave a negative review online. But by making it easy for customers to return gifts, you can reduce the number of negative reviews and protect your reputation.

So, make it easier for customers to return unwanted gifts this holiday season by clearly communicating your return policy on your website and in your marketing materials. 

Your return policy should be easy to find and understand and indicate:

  • How long customers have to return items
  • The conditions items must meet to be eligible for return
  • How customers can start a return

If you need inspiration, take a page from VRAI's book. They've created a dedicated landing page for their return policy on lab-grown diamonds and even implemented an extended holiday return policy.

VRAI return policy

Source: VRAI

Here are some other simple tips to improve customer satisfaction with your return process: 

  • Make it easy for customers to return unwanted gifts online and in-store. For online orders, offer free return shipping or let customers easily create return labels. For in-store purchases, allow customers to return items without a receipt as long as they have proof of purchase (e.g., a credit card statement).
  • Be flexible with your return policy. If a customer can't return an item within the specified return window or if the item isn't in perfect condition, consider making an exception.


8. Strengthen Your Customer Loyalty Program

Studies reveal that returning customers spend 67% more than new customers during the holiday season. Loyal customers already know your brand and products and trust you to provide them with a good shopping experience.

Additionally, word-of-mouth marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach new customers. That's where loyal customers can become your best advocates. 

When you offer them exclusive rewards and perks, they're more likely to tell their friends and family about your store, which can lead to new sales.

Sephora has used this strategy for years to become a top player in the beauty space. 

Sephora - Beauty Insider Benefits

Source: Sephora

Here are some steps to strengthen your loyalty program during the holiday season:

  • Offer exclusive rewards and benefits (e.g., early access to new products, free shipping, and exclusive discounts) to loyalty program members. You can also host members-only events, such as holiday shopping parties or conferences.
  • Run targeted loyalty promotions to encourage customers to shop during the holidays. For example, try offering 2x bonus points on all purchases during the holiday season or a gift on any purchase over a certain amount.
  • Personalize your loyalty program's rewards and promotions. Using data to learn more about your customers' buying habits, you can offer them the most rewards and promotions they care about.


Start Preparing Your Store for the 2023 Holiday Season!

Preparing your online store for the holiday-ready reaps a bounty of benefits, from improving customer satisfaction to achieving your top sales goals. Use the tips that we've shared in this guide to navigate the festive rush without a hitch.