While there has been concern that economic uncertainty and cyber-weary consumers may combine to temper this year’s holiday shopping season, many factors now point to an expected increase in online holiday sales.
With many big-box retailers moving their largest sales online in recent years, eCommerce is the odds-on favorite to dominate the days and weeks following Thanksgiving. With that in mind, now is the time to make sure you and your website are ready for what may be a coming tide of traffic and transactions.
The last thing you want is a potential customer who can’t find what they’re looking for, can’t load their shopping cart correctly, or even worse, can’t access your site at all.
To help you get your eCommerce house in order, we’ve compiled some high-level tips you can focus on right now, and we’ve included a wide list of resources throughout, which you can put to use over the coming days and weeks to optimize your website for what looks to be a busy holiday season ahead. Let’s get started!
Top Holiday eCommerce Tips for Boosting Site Performance
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the world of eCommerce, or if you have a well-established online business in place—site performance matters, and it’s one of the first things you’ll want to assess when preparing for a potentially busy holiday season.
If your site loads slowly, or if you’re not sure how it might respond to the stress of many users trying to access it at once, it may be wise to take a step back and address overall site performance.
WP Engine hosts some of the fastest sites on the web. Check out our plans.
One quick way to way gauge site speed is with WP Engine’s Free Website Tester, which will test the speed of your WordPress site, including desktop and mobile versions, and provide you with actionable recommendations to make it faster (and more secure).
Another way to test site performance is by performing a load test, which simulates high traffic on your site to help you determine how many visitors it can accommodate at once, and how it will respond at various traffic levels.
While load testing can help site owners assess many things, including scaling capabilities, security risks, automatic code deployment, and target tracking, you can choose the parameters you wish to test for. See this informative whitepaper for more detail.
Check out this helpful support article for a list of some technical best practices for eCommerce sites, as well as this article, which offers a trove of insights for web designers and small agencies looking for eCommerce best practices specific to them.
Tap Into the Amazing Ecosystem of WordPress Themes and Plugins
While site performance is crucial to eCommerce success, so is the overall functionality and ease-of-navigation users encounter when they visit your site.
Here is where the vast ecosystem of plugins and themes that WordPress is known for really comes into play. Updating your site using a Genesis theme, for example, can completely refine the look and feel of your site, while adding SEO and other performance benefits.
Furthermore, using plugins for various eCommerce and other site functions is a great way to quickly add elements to your site that will make it more appealing to online shoppers. From search to shopping carts to everything in between, there are literally thousands of plugins you can choose from to add needed functionality to your site.
Check out this guide for a rundown of some of the best themes and plugins for eCommerce sites built on WordPress, as well as this article, which will walk you through some of the more popular eCommerce integrations, including WooCommerce and Shopify, which are preferred by WordPress users today.
Put WordPress to Work as Your Holiday eCommerce Engine
Now that you’ve gained a better idea of how much traffic your site can handle, and you’ve optimized your site with plugins and themes that make searching and transacting easier for your customers, it’s time to get the word out and bring those digital deal-seekers to your doorstep.
One of the best ways to do that is through a holiday marketing campaign, which will help you spread the word about your products and services to a wider audience.
Maybe you have specific holiday deals or a holiday product bundle to tell potential customers about. Decide which channels you want to use to get your message out (blog, social media, etc.), and then put a plan in place to blanket those channels with messaging that brings people back to your website.
WordPress is certainly your friend here and can integrate with robust marketing tools including HubSpot, which will help you plan, execute, and track your marketing efforts effectively.
Additionally, there are a wide variety of marketing-specific plugins you can use to build and track effective email campaigns as well as retargeting and customer segmentation efforts.
Dive in Deeper With Our Library of Holiday eCommerce Tips and Resources
While the above areas are great places to start as you prep for the holiday rush, there are plenty of other things you can do to improve website performance and provide users with a better digital experience that will help you increase online purchases.
Check out these additional resources for more information, and put your WordPress site to work this holiday season:
Work With a Managed WordPress Provider That knows eCommerce
While many of the above efforts are solutions you can implement on your own, nothing beats working with a managed WordPress provider like WP Engine. We know WordPress inside and out, and we help customers with eCommerce challenges large and small every day.