Every year it comes around, and every year I promise myself I’m going to get my sh*t together to avoid the last minute present panic. And every year I end up wrapping presents at 11pm on December 24th.

Sadly many ecommerce brands do the equivalent of my last minute wrapping tornado – waiting til November (or even December) to get their website Christmas-ready and then trying to scramble to get everything done, leaving no time for mince pie eating and champagne quaffing. Now that’s hardly getting into the Christmas spirit.

If you get your prep done now, you can sail into the silly season with the PayPal notification button happily dinging like Christmas bells. (Plus, these suggestions will also help you get more sales year round. So there’s that.)

Let’s dive in!

1. State Your Shipping Costs Upfront

You know who loves getting to the checkout to find out what the shipping costs are going to be? No one. That counts for double at Christmas time when you’re trying to buy presents for a dozen family members AND still make it to New Year’s with money in your bank account.

Yet I still come across so many stores that don’t make their shipping costs clear right up front. Put together a Shipping Info page for your online store. If you’re offering flat rate (or free) postage then state that up front (in big, bold writing). If your shipping rates depend on the order size, then give some rough guesstimates. Even if it’s like “postage rates to metropolitan cities generally range from $20-$25” at least your customers will have a ballpark figure to go off.

2. Make Sure Your Website Flows

In a fantasy world we’d spend an entire weekend leisurely browsing online stores for Christmas gifts while sipping Pimms in our dressing gowns. In reality, many of us are frantically trying to hunt down the perfect gift for our dozen nieces and nephews while simultaneously wolfing down a sandwich and ducking calls from our boss.

So make your website as easy to use as possible.

And by easy to use, I mean easy for your customer. Make sure your different categories are super obvious. If you sell things by size, have each of those is a searchable category or tag as well. Group items together in a logical way. And give your products clear and understandable names.

That doesn’t mean you have to spend a heap of money on a custom design. I’ve seen some great websites built on shopping platforms like Shopify and Woocommerce.

If you’re not sure if your website flows well, submit it to Peek for a free usability review. Better yet, get your grandma (or anyone over a certain age) to use it. You’ll instantly see where you can make it easier for people to shop. Oh and check your website is mobile friendly already! *drops mic*

3. Switch Up Product Descriptions To Target Gift Buyers

The great thing about Christmas is giving someone a gift that they absolutely love. The frustrating thing about Christmas is finding the gift they’ll absolutely love.

Chances are a lot of people are going to be landing on your website looking to buy a gift for someone else. And maybe they don’t normally shop for handcrafted jewelry. Or kids clothing. Or whimsical artwork. Give those poor folks a hand and use your product descriptions to tell them just who will love the earrings/t-shirt/painting they’ve come across. Something like:

Tees for little kids with big attitudes. Our kids t-shirts are made from 100% organic cotton and are designed to last through endless beach cricket matches, rolling down grassy hills and games of tag in the park. Size small for kiddos aged 4-5, size medium for I’m-a-big-kid-now’s aged 6-7 and large for those still-not-too-big-for-cuddles aged 8-9.

(Side note: as an aunt to a niece and nephew I see only three times a year, I’m endlessly grateful to any online store that gives suggested age ranges for their kids products.)

Or for a fun way to offer up gift certificates:

If she’s ever muttered the words, I know what I like when I see it, then give the gift that she won’t give back. We offer gift certificates in any amount, and we’ll even post it out to you in a gorgeous box. Give her what she really wants this year – the gift of self-determination.

4. Add a Last Orders Banner to the Home Page

Some people like to live on the edge. They order double-shot macchiato and go sky-diving on the weekend. Oh and they like to leave their Christmas shopping until December 18th.

But just like toddlers, these people also need boundaries in their life. Boundaries like knowing if they order that scented candle for their mum, it’s going to get to her in time.

Stick up a banner on your website now stating the cut off date for orders to be received by Christmas. When this is will be depends on whether you custom make your products, where you’re located and of course whether you want to stay up til 1am packing orders three days before Christmas. Just make it clear and stick to it.

5. Review Your Returns Policies

Got a returns policy? Check it’s easy to understand and implement.

Don’t have one? You could have a Christmas-only returns policy if you want.

The benefit of this is it encourages more people to buy from you – especially for those hard-to-please people in their life. And the extra sales you get from it will probably outweigh the cost of the (few) returns you might get in the New Year. Create a separate page on your website and link to it from the home page and product pages outlining what your return policy is and any limitations.

6. Make The Most of Your Email Confirmation

Chances are a lot of shoppers on your website in the Christmas period will be new to your store. So don’t waste the opportunity to connect with them further. Your confirmation email is prime space to give more information than what might be on your website.

As well as letting them know when to expect their delivery and any pertinent info, you could also include:

  • An offer or discount to be used on their next order
  • A link to your favourite social media hangout (I love Instagram!)
  • Handy info about the product they can share with the giftee (styling tips/ a fun how to/ tips on caring for it)
  • A testimonial or two so they feel confident knowing they made a great purchase (social proof, y’all)
  • Some background info on your store – people love stories!

Need help to get this all done? I’m currently offering a super-limited amount of Christmas Copy Checks for ecommerce websites in the lead up to Christmas. You’ll get your entire website reviewed, plus a selection of your copy and product descriptions specially edited for Christmas shoppers, all designed to get you ringing in the New Year with extra cashola in your bank account.

Head on over here for the full details.