Last year, online spending during the Christmas period amounted to a staggering £25 billion pounds. And over £1 billion was spent on Black Friday too. With an ever-increasing willingness from consumers to turn to the internet to make a purchase, these figures can only rise.

The internet has transformed from being a platform from which users’ source information and entertainment, to becoming one of the most important marketing and sales platforms for the world’s biggest businesses. E-commerce giants such as Amazon and Ebay have proven how well marketed supply in response to customer demand can create a lucrative online endeavour.

Ensuring your website is prepared to supply for the surge in demand during the Black Friday and Christmas period, investment in Web Design and Software is crucial. Where software can enable you to price your products competitively, effective Web Design will encourage conversion on your checkout pages. So as you get your stores ready or stock up your products levels, here’s how to ensure that your website is ready to perform in the biggest sales season of the year.

Is your website ready for these customers?

Us Brits are more than willing to shop online. We spent £154 billion online in 2016, no small sum. That’s an average of £4611 per household, more per household than of any other country in the world. Online retailers serving the UK have a willing nation and a tremendous opportunity to sell their products and turn them into customers.

A surge of visitors can only be a good thing right? Yes, but only if you are prepared. If your is not up to scratch then you may find your website won’t perform for you or your potential new customers when that surge lands. Whether that’s Black Friday, Boxing Day or even on the days leading up to Christmas, a sudden surge of customers could throw a spanner in the works. All of your efforts to drive new visitors will be in vain.

So how do you prepare for this? Firstly, turn to your historical data in Google Analytics or other traffic reporting suite, to give you an estimate on the amount of users you could expect this year.

Review data on traffic levels, sources from which they came and how long they spent on the site. Then, take into consideration any changes you’ve since made. Have you stepped up your marketing efforts? Do you have new partnerships or a promotion that you expect will drive traffic through the roof? Has your website had an overhaul that puts more pressure on your web server? Did you have any problems before, and what was the tipping point for these? These questions and more can help you work out what you could expect and will stop you from having to play a complete ‘guessing’ game.

Next, have a word with your hosting company. Ask them how many simultaneous visitors your website can reasonably handle. Compare that against expectations, and where required, work with your host to upgrade, enhance or bolster the capabilities of your server.

Test the capability by running your site through a tool such as LoadImpact (you can pay on a per test basis rather than a subscription), and put your server to the test. Make sure to do it when you have little or no visitors (Google Analytics can show you when your visitors are quiet too).

Are you watching your competitors?

The holiday season is packed with sales, limited edition deals and most importantly, customers looking to buy. For the latter however, don’t be fooled by the sudden surge of people turning to the internet to purchase goods: competition is still very fierce around Christmas, and consumers are just as – if not more – interested in getting the best price.

In order for you to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to implement a competitive and strategic pricing strategy, and leverage tools that help you keep an eye on your competitors. Gaining insight into your and seeing how they stack up against your own pricing is crucial.

More than ever, consumers are using comparison sites to compare prices of goods and services they wish to buy. Loyalty to retailers is at an all time low, perhaps due in part to strong consumer rights when it comes to shopping online. Price is typically the biggest driving factor when it comes to choosing where to buy, though other things like speed of delivery, stock availability, etc. can reduce that when time is short or where demand outstrips supply. In order to stay ahead of your competitors, software such as Magpie provides you with current prices of your competitors and even a history of prices, alongside your own. From snapshots of home pages to show you what worked well in previous years, to daily alerts on price changes, the data you need is available to you. You just need to know where to find it and what tools can give it to you.

Optimise your website

Implementing a strategic PPC campaign, working on your SEO strategy, and doing all the other things that a business can do to draw in more traffic, is only half of the battle. In order for you to gain a piece of this huge market and opportunity, you need to convert the visitors that make it onto your site.

Beyond paid advertising, optimising your website and improving user experience is key to convert and encourage customers to return. Look at your website and ask yourself:

    • Is your website mobile friendly? You can check this for free with Google’s mobile friendly test here.
    • Can you streamline your checkout page to speed up checkout and therefore improve conversion?
    • Is your website too slow? Free tools such as Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Insights will tell you.
    • Is the navigation menu on your site helping your customers navigate easily?

If you’re answering no to any of those questions, it’s time to make some changes to your site. Along with affecting your Google rankings, these factors result in high bounce rates and unimpressed customers. Focus on the four above factors, and you increase the chance of someone buying from you exponentially.

Instead of focusing on filling up the top of the funnel with more visitors, focus on conversion. If you are converting 1% of your visitors into sales, a 2% conversion would double your sales and revenue without you having to fight any harder for additional traffic.

Preparing your website for the festive season, or for any time of the year, will ensure that your site is capable of catering for the customers who come your way. In a saturated market, pricing competitively and offering your customers the best deal will give you the edge.

Our data and design experts know a thing or two about delivering for renowned brands, so if you need some assistance, they’d be more than happy to help.