It’s safe to say that no-one had foreseen the curveball that 2020 has thrown at us.

Every business has had to adapt in some way to survive, so don’t get caught behind.

Whether you’re an early shopper or last minute dot com (like me) then you’re going to be shopping a little differently this year.

Whilst COVID-19 has drastically spiked online sales and will likely continue the trend of online shopping going into 2021 and beyond. If you’re not prepared, then you could land yourself in serious trouble.

Now is your last chance to prepare yourself for the start of your virtual Christmas and I’ve included 5 ways that you can ensure you’re ready for the biggest year of digital sales.

Why is it important to prepare?

With many stores closed during the run-up to Christmas, people are less likely to make a trip out to get their purchases. They will instead do the vast majority of their shopping from the comfort of their own home.

If your website is not prepared, easy to use or slow, you might be turning away business before they’ve even given you a chance.

 How to prepare your online business for a COVID-19 Christmas

1. Make sure you’re using top of the range hosting

The difference between budget hosting and top of the range hosting can make a huge difference! Budget hosting can plague your website with slow load speeds, as well as low bandwidth and low memory which means that your website can only support a small handful of customers at a time. Even with a well-optimised website, you will still experience slow speeds if you opt for a budget host.

You may be considering switching hosting, and you can work with companies that help to migrate all of your website data over seamlessly with little to zero downtime.

This is something that I can help you with if you require assistance.

2. Speed tests and optimise performance

The reasons why Amazon are such a big player in the market is due to convenience and simplicity. If you want to find something on Amazon, it feels second nature to do so. Your website should use these core principles to be successful. 

Speed is so important so making sure you have a good quality host as well as a highly optimised website is vital. There are a wide range of tools that can help you identify areas of improvement for your website such as PageSpeed Insight. You can view everything at a glance and it will give you a few tips and tricks to better optimise your website.

3. Include more payment options

Your customers are looking for different ways of paying. Some people prefer the convenience and security of Paypal, whilst others prefer traditional transactions such as credit/debit cards.

A fairly new contender to the scene is Klarna and ClearPay. These new payment methods offer a buy now pay later option or further credit options to pay over 3 months. Convenient and affordable.

Often, checkouts are neglected in the build process. Having a bad checkout experience is like having a rude checkout assistant – except the customer can back out of their transaction at any point.

4. Sales & promotion tools

Online retail can be a cut-throat industry.

To be successful, standing out from the crowd is a must.

You can have a beautiful website, with an amazing user experience, but if no one can find your website, you’ll get no sales.

Make sure you have the right marketing strategy set up, as well as any sales tools that can help you build brand loyalty or repeat business in the future.

For example having points and rewards for each purchase, a referral system that offers a discount if you refer a friend. As well as setting up abandoned cart messages which entices customers who were almost ready to make a purchase back to your website, to complete their transaction

5. Set up analytics

One of the most valuable resources you can have is data. Having customer data unlocks a world of opportunity and insight into your customer’s behaviours and actions.

From the data, you can make well-informed decisions to help the overall experience of your website.

One of the best free tools out there is Google Analytics this is essential to all online business owners.

Also, another great tool is HotJar, this allows you to track user behaviour and record screen actions as well as creating heatmaps to where your customers could be dropping off.

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