The holidays—one of the most wonderful times of the year, especially for eCommerce businesses. For many online enterprises, the fourth quarter makes up a significant amount of their profit for the entire year. Typically, it all kicks off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and this remains a big one.

But in 2019, Cyber Monday actually became the biggest online shopping day in American history. That same year, online spending from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday totaled to a whopping 28.5 billion dollars. And overall spending for the season was noteworthy, as well, coming in at more than 135 billion.

This year has already been promising, showing a 3.3 percent increase in eCommerce sales from the first to second quarter. And as Covid persists, driving many out of the public sphere in hot spots around the country, consumers will likely turn heavily to online shopping once again for the upcoming season.

With that in mind, what should you be doing right now to prepare? Here are some specific areas to focus on to ensure a smooth holiday shopping experience for all.

Stock Up & Start Early

One of the best things you can do to be ready for the holiday rush is to make sure you have plenty of inventory ready to go. Pay particular attention to popular or seasonal items that may see a spike in purchases.

The holiday rush continues to begin earlier each year and in 2021 is forecasted to pick up speed right after Halloween. Shoppers are also reporting that they plan to shop primarily online through retailers like Amazon or at big box stores with major sales during this time period.

Christmas tops the list for holiday spending and consumer surveys show that people intend to increase their spending in Q4, so this is the time to enhance your brand’s presence. Beyond Amazon and traditional search engines, social media remains an excellent place to provide customers with holiday ideas. Many will look specifically to online influencers for inspiration, so calling on influencers in your industry could be a big boon.

We suggest using the shop early trend to your advantage, encouraging customers to buy now and avoid any issues. With supply chain problems, delivery delays, and pandemic complications continuing to cause slow-downs, it’s essential for consumers to think ahead. You’ll need to do the same to be sure you can deliver on your sales.

Speaking of delivery, this is also a critical moment to have your team map out handling times. Be realistic here, offering what you’re sure you can fulfill. Keep in mind that staffing shortages, among other causes of delay, may increase delivery time, especially as the holidays themselves approach. Look carefully at what you can guarantee and then be transparent with your customers. They’ll appreciate being able to plan accordingly.

Know Your Discounts

Creating a special offer or discount for a key part of the holiday season—thumbs up! Doing it at the last second with no heads up for your team—BIG thumbs down! It’s great to get creative with your offers for consumers, like a coupon or lightning deal, but especially when you’re approaching a hectic time like the holidays, you need to plan ahead.

With the right notice, your development and design teams will be able to come up with something fantastic, instead of panicking through a last-minute push. This will also give them time to thoroughly investigate the discount capabilities of your platform. Do you have everything you need to create the offer you want to put out there?

If the answer is no, add this to the list of things you want in a future platform. ZiftrShop comes standard with a variety of valuable promotional tools that make it easy to design, set up, and schedule special offers. The ability to schedule, in particular, is a lifesaver so you don’t have to wake up at midnight at the start of Cyber Monday. Instead, get everything in place before the holidays hit and then you can enjoy them, too!

Give Your Look a Boost

If you want to draw in customers this season and nurture them through a sale, your site has got to be looking as magical as the fresh-fallen snow! Work with your team to craft an on-brand holiday look for your storefront that will have shoppers smiling from the minute they arrive.

This is especially easy on a headless platform, like ZiftrShop, where your front and back ends are separated. It gives you the opportunity to make rapid, nuanced adjustments to the look and feel of your eCommerce site without the need for heavy IT support or lengthy back-end updates.

Stuck with the same old templates you’ve been dealing with for years? Ick. No one should be boxed in by a boxy, out-of-date look while trying to grow their online presence. Flexibility is the name of the game and if you want to get nimble, you need a platform prepared for the future.

Evaluate Your Site

So let’s say you have it all in place: the inventory, the offers, the branding. You could get all the traffic in the world this holiday season, but it won’t mean much if your platform can’t handle it. Is your eCommerce structure prepared for a heavy increase in usage? What will happen if your site goes down?

If these are real worries for you, that’s an indicator that your business has outgrown the platform you’re currently relying on. That’s actually good news. It means your enterprise is rocketing forward! Now you need to consider a more robust platform to help you scale your biz.

For starters, if you haven’t already, moving to something cloud-hosted can help ensure enhanced performance and prevent site degradation. If you’ve been seeing user checkouts timing out, page load speeds increasing, and abandoned carts running rampant, switching to the cloud is part of the solution.

For instance, ZiftrShop supported the migration of a client who had been running their storefront in WooCommerce, where constant site challenges were causing sales to drop. After migrating, the company experienced no more scaling issues, saw a significantly higher number of daily transactions (greater than 800 concurrent users with transactions and zero degradation), and noted an increase in site visitation since shoppers were no longer frustrated.

If your site is already feeling compromised, the holidays are sure to reveal the leaks and holes. Now is the time to explore your options for the future and find out how a next-gen platform like ZiftrShop can propel your business forward instead of holding it back.