5 Ways To Ensure Your Online Store Is Ready For The Holiday Season

When’s the best time to start preparing for the retail rush of the holiday season? Once you start asking that question, that time has already passed you by. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it’s such a lucrative time in prospect that it warrants a lot of long-term planning. Secondly, the shopper buzz isn’t limited to the days around notable events: it extends in either direction, and it can’t have escaped your attention that stores now stock Christmas items in September.


When’s the second-best time to start preparing? As soon as you possibly can, which I suppose is the precise moment in which you’re reading this (even if you’re reading this in late January — after all, you can start prepping for Easter). Your potential customers are already gearing up to spend, and you should do everything you can to earn those sales.


Now, the brick-and-mortar formula is fairly simple: the Christmas method involves throwing some baubles on a tree, adding some colorful lighting, and blaring a festive playlist. But things are different for an online store. Let’s look at 5 tactics for getting your online store holiday-ready:

Overhaul your product lineup

Product demand in general goes up as the holidays approach, but certain types of products are always going to attract more interest. It isn’t usually hard to figure out which ones will start selling in greater numbers: Halloween heralds pumpkin purchases and costume buys, while Black Friday is typically about electronics and other big-ticket items.


Accordingly, you should review your lineup of products and start figuring out how it stands to perform. Do you have the right selection? If not, now is the time to clear the decks and build a strategy around a core set of hyper-relevant listings. You don’t need to replace everything with a holiday-themed product. Just get enough to fill your homepage, at least.

Ensure that it can handle the traffic

Most online stores get low to moderate levels of traffic, causing no issues — but when the holidays arrive (particularly if you’ve done a good job of setting out appealing products), your store can be barraged with so many visits that the underlying systems can’t cope, leading to transactions encountering errors or even the site itself failing to load for many people.


In addition to checking that your hosting can keep up (review the terms of your performance tier), you should start thinking about things like monitoring uptime and streamlining general processes so you can actually fulfil as many orders as your store can accept. I suggest reading through these high-traffic ecommerce strategies to get a broader idea of what you can do.

Add some flair to the theme

You can’t decorate your online store with real baubles, but digital baubles are rather easier to acquire. Almost every modern CMS has access to a wide range of plugins (also known as extensions, apps, add-ons, etc.) — if you find yours and search for a holiday-related term such as “Christmas” or “snow”, you’ll most likely find some free or cheap theming options.


The most common options include things like overlaid snowfall effects or festive jingles playing in the background. You can also switch up the colors: red and green around Christmas, or black with a lurid red around Halloween. Visual identity is important, so have some fun with it.

Implement marketing tools

If your products are there and your store is ready but no one knows about it, does it really matter? Marketing is a core part of holiday retail, and the better you can prepare your holiday promotions, the more you can take advantage of it. So how do you prepare your site? Well, in the same way that you can add theming plugins, you can set up some marketing tools.


These tools can help you configure and run an email marketing campaign as the days of reckoning approach, schedule attention-grabbing promotions to run on your site, and even chase those who’ve abandoned their carts to try to bring them back. I can’t tell you which tools to use because I don’t know what your CMS is, but run a search for “[Your CMS] abandoned cart” or “[Your CMS] email marketing” and you’ll surely find something relevant.

Plan your on-page copy

The content of your website will need to change if you want it to really get into the holiday vibe, particularly if you’re using a theme — it would seem very odd to have lurid Halloween coloring with your regular text. Your homepage copy should reflect the season you’re targeting, but the main target will be your product descriptions.


It’s one thing to offer a product that’s well-suited to being a Christmas gift, but it’s another to focus on that aspect in the outline. Consider that shoppers will often be looking for gift ideas and not actually have anything specific in mind. If you want to sell something as a gift, mention in the description that it makes a perfect gift. It’s fairly simple!


If you can use just some of these tactics, you should have a much-improved chance of profiting heavily during the holiday shopping frenzy. Good luck!