Is Your Website Ready For The Holiday Shopping Season?

Getting ready for the holidays can take several months, depending on how much preparation your digital business requires. Yet most Internet professionals don’t have that type of time on their hands, leaving many worried as November approaches and their holiday strategy is still incomplete.

Luckily, there is time for Web professionals to wrap up the loose ends of their holiday digital strategies – from sprucing up their websites to creating engaging social campaigns. Finish your holiday prep with this checklist:

• Test website performance to make sure your site’s load time is up to speed. Get started by checking out these five tools to measure website response times.

• Incorporate customer service features into your site in order to increase conversions. This can include live chat or virtual assistants. In fact, a BoldChat study found that 21 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. prefer live chat. Look at companies like Moxie Software or BoldChat for live chat solutions, or CodeBaby and Nuance for virtual assistants.

• Test your site’s navigation to make sure that customers can find what they are looking for. While implementing a live chat or virtual assistant on your site can help consumers find what they need, some visitors may not use customer service features and will instead move on to the competition’s website. In addition, consider updating your product categories for the holidays. For example, adding categories like “Gifts Under $25” or “Gifts for Her” might help visitors find something that they weren’t even looking for in the first place.

• Optimize your mobile site so shoppers can browse and purchase items while on the go this busy holiday season. Start by testing the performance of your current mobile site with tools like Plunk or MobiReady.

• Address your customers’ needs. Holiday shopping isn’t just a Western phenomenon thanks to global digital sales platforms. If you’re selling to a worldwide customer base, Scott Heimes, CMO of Digital River , suggests preparing for an uptick in sales across all regions. In addition, Heimes recommends that merchants understand and accommodate local preferences, including preferred regional payment methods. Customer age groups also matter. For example, younger shoppers are more likely to use PayPal, whereas older customers typically use credit cards.

– See the rest of this checklist at http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/pages/2013-holiday-prep-checklist-for-smbs.aspx

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