So it’s 90 degrees outside, we have a global pandemic, a presidential election looming and no one is thinking about the holidays right now.

Well if you’re a smart business you should be thinking about the holidays if you do any seasonal sales. Now, that alone is not new. Businesses (smart ones) have always prepared for the holiday season in advance. What is new however is the COVID-19 Pandemic and the virtual effect it has and the impact to our everyday lives. Everything is moving to online interaction, retail sales, restaurants, dog groomers, all drop off and pick up curbside now. Orders are taken online and delivered to your doorstep. With these new norms in place we are heading into a holiday season unlike any we have experienced before. As a business owner myself it’s time to think about making some adjustments.

I’m dreaming of a digital landslide

The shopping trend has been moving digital for years now and in 2019, Black Friday brick and mortar sales dropped 6.2% compared with 2018, according to ShopperTrak, while online shopping grew 14% during the same time frame. It is obvious that we are already heading in that direction.

Let’s make some assumptions, only, I think this trend is less of an assumption and more of a certainty. So not some digital shopping, not the majority of it. All of it will be done online. (Okay, maybe not all of it but you get my point.) If you are thinking otherwise you are going to be wholly unprepared for what’s to come.

In 2019 roughly one third of shoppers did some of their holiday shopping in-person and roughly a third did all of their shopping in store. Just to be clear, businesses are not about to face a storm of new online holiday shoppers but certainly a tidal wave 40 stories high!

If you are in business and sell anything you need to have an ecommerce solution to be successful this 2020 holiday season. If you don’t have an online store today don’t panic there is still time to circle the wagons and be ready for November sales. Ecommerce platforms have become a bit easier to develop and launch. If you have a few products it is that much faster to implement but even if you have hundreds Rainfire Media has years of ecommerce experience and can help you move quickly to market. This is an opportunity you do not want to miss out on. As the new norm you need to be there today and into the foreseeable future.

Website Performance and Security

If you already have an online business there are several things to consider when preparing for the holiday traffic. Website Performance Is Paramount

Facing an influx of new traffic into your ecommerce store during the holidays is nothing new. But a 2020 pandemic driven holiday shopping season done entirely online sure is, so as you prepare to put your digital properties to the test, throw out your existing benchmarks and make sure your web and mobile applications can withstand the forthcoming wave of business. That means performance testing on the front-end and load/stress testing on the backend. You simply can’t afford to have your app or website crash when you have nothing but sales to make.

Schools of thought in a non-pandemic world was to freeze your functional code development for your online platform to ensure nothing out of the ordinary would happen during peak sales times in November. Everything you have in place in August is now going to be exactly the same in November.

With the landscape changing so rapidly and the web shifting technology of new browsers and functionality does not stop. A code freeze is a real detriment to your business as not being able to react to changes in the market. Do you really want to freeze your digital experience for three months? Are you really confident an application created in August will still be relevant and innovative come November? Will it still stand out from the competition? Innovation and agile capabilities are what brought you to this point in your online business and to put a hold on it for 3 months doesn’t really make sense even when we’re not dealing with a pandemic, and it certainly doesn’t make sense now that we are.

Get prepared for new customers

Get ready for a whole lot of grandparents buying presents online for the first time. Get ready for a new audience wading through the digital waters for the first time. What can you do to make the experience easy for those who have not shopped online before? Can you support the older technology and browsers they will be using? Is your messages and language appropriate for someone who is not digitally savvy? Is your ecommerce store mobile friendly? If you answered no to any of these question it’s time to buckle down the hatches and get ready for the storm. Rainfire Media can help with honing your message and optimizing your shopping experience to maximize conversion and create a pleasant shopping experience for all you customs.

Customer service is paramount to the shopping experience

You will experience an influx of support questions and service requests. Are you prepared with FAQ’s, Chat systems, phone numbers and return policies?  Whether digital or live, create pathways for people to easily get help, and assume you’ll need to go far above and beyond what you’ve done in previous years.

The New Normal for Ecommerce Business

The challenges faced by businesses in 2020 have not been easy. And getting ready for the holiday season won’t be easy either. Here is the reality though: the online world was already fast descending upon us. The Coronavirus has only accelerated its arrival. Those Businesses who put in the work now and are willing to challenge conventional methods will get a leg up on the future. It is an inevitable fact of the digital economy and if you wait to react you will be left in the dust by your competition. Let us be your guide and smooth over the pathways to digital success this coming holiday season.

We understand that all businesses are unique to their market. Each has its’ own twist on servicing customers, providing products and communicating to the market. Contact Rainfire Media for a free 30 minute consultation on how to best prepare your business for the 2020 holiday season.

About the Author

Rick Romano has been a driving force in the digital world since 1993. As owner of Rainfire Media he brings years of insight and hands-on experience working with almost every type of business and industry. As an ecommerce expert, he is a wellspring of information and industry insight helping lead customers and partners to online success.