E-Commerce Mistakes to Avoid During Holiday Sales

Nov 23, 2016 by Anna Koneva, Ecwid Team
8 E-Commerce Mistakes to Avoid During Holiday Sales
Posted Nov 23, 2016 by Anna Koneva, Ecwid Team

Holiday sales are the perfect occasion to clear out old inventory, increase your customer base, and earn more revenue than usual. Holidays can be stressful, but everything will turn out fine if you prepare beforehand and avoid these common mistakes.

1. Not ordering enough inventory

Let’s say you didn’t order enough products to meet the holiday demand. If you sell out of goods in the middle of a sale, your supplier may not be able to restock your products quickly. They could also sell out, or all available items could be reserved during busy seasons.

If you sell handmade products, you may run out of your creations and only have limited time to make more in the height of the discount season.

Don’t make this mistake — it can result in a wasted ad budget and a damaged reputation with customers.

How to avoid this issue:

Order items and materials in advance. Make an agreement with your supplier for additional deliveries before the holidays, or reserve a back order of goods. If you produce your own products, begin to stock up now, and consider advertising your backorder status or custom options.

Elizabeth, owner of the Ecwid store Cloud 9 Design, says:

“Take stock of your inventory early (ideally around the end of October / early November), and make sure you have enough material and packaging supplies to see you through the holiday season. Don’t forget all the little things you use, such as sticky labels or rolls of packing tape for example — these simple things can easily be forgotten until you run out!”

Details matter!

Details matter!

Even if you’ve prepared, a hot sale could still result in a lack of inventory. Don’t worry, there is a way out! Create gift certificates like Longship Leather does. They are an excellent option for last-minute shoppers.

Gift certificates on longshipleather.com

Gift certificates on longshipleather.com

A bonus is that you don’t need to deliver the certificate by mail. Make a beautiful image with individual discount codes and email that to your buyers. They will be able to print out the certificate and give it as a present.

2. Shipping delays resulting in late product delivery

Shoppers want their purchases to arrive as quickly as possible. Sometimes courier services have too many orders during the holiday season and delivery times lag. The result can be frustrating — nobody wants their parcels to arrive after the holiday they were intended for.

How to avoid this issue:

  • Make an agreement with your delivery service about the anticipated increase in orders, and ask them to warn you if deliveries could be delayed so you can increase shipping times.
  • Sign contracts with other courier services so they can be your fallback.
  • Add urgent delivery for an additional fee. Last-minute shoppers will pay a little more for the knowledge that their goods will arrive in time.
  • If you have your own delivery service, employ additional couriers for the holiday season.

Another alternative is to kindly warn your customers that you cannot guarantee on-time delivery after a certain date (in which case you can offer gift certificates) on your website.

Always be honest with your clients. Be careful not to promise something that does not depend on you. A few happy clients are better than a lot of disappointed ones.

3. Spending your advertising budget too quickly

Costs-per-click in Google AdWords and Facebook jump up two or three times the normal rate during the holiday season. Were you aware of that? Your entire weekly or monthly budget for advertising could be spent in just a couple of days, and you won’t get as many new customers as you expected.

How to avoid this issue:

  • Don’t trust the forecast of the advertising system. It predicts user activity based on the average number of searches and clicks in the last few months. Instead of looking at the last few months, you need to focus on the data from the previous holiday season.
  • A service like Google Trends will show you how much the number of requests for your product(s) grows before the holidays.The number of clicks and costs will increase accordingly.Google Trends
  • Prepare promotional materials and pay for advertising in advance, if possible. Agree on the publication of promotional posts on social media. Start SEO on search queries about your product, for example, “notebook as a gift”, “gift for writers”, “present for writers”, etc.
  • Advertise in free and creative ways, such as email marketing and contests on social media, or use a portion of your budget to participate in an offline holiday market.
  • Do you still plan to place ads on search engines and social networks? Target your audience accurately and write creative text to encourage clicks.

4. Failing to stand out from the crowd

All holiday promotions can feel the same. When reading your Facebook feed or opening your inbox, all you see is “Holiday sale! 50% off! Shop now.” If your ad is similar (or you use a boring design), you may not attract the buyers you’re looking for.

How to avoid this issue:

Customers were supposed to count the number of pairs of shoes in the picture. The correct number was the discount they’d receive. As a result, a “boring” sale turned into a game that buyers had fun with, which made them engage with the brand while receiving their discount.

    • Don’t try to make ads that work for everybody, but appeal to specific audiences. For example, you sell shoes and want to bring back buyers who purchased from you in the past. Ask customers to send you a photo of themselves in an older pair of your shoes. In return, give them a discount on a new pair.

Remember, the conditions of the promo should be easy, and the discount should be attractive.

5. Discounting the “wrong” product

You gave discounts on an unpopular item or decided to sell a seasonal summer item during winter holidays. Buyers weren’t interested, and the sale failed. Or you may have done everything correctly, but your clients were unpredictable and didn’t flock to the sale.

How to avoid this issue:

      • Give discounts for well-stocked popular products. Add a “You May Also Like” section to your product page and show the items that you most want to sell.
      • Make up gift boxes that include both popular and unpopular items.
      • Brush up on holiday sales statistics every year to predict the demand more precisely.

6. Cutting the prices too much

You gave a deep discount or made a mistake in your calculations, and as a result, you did not earn any profit from your sales.

How to avoid this issue:

A discount is profitable only if it stimulates the growth of your sales. You will need an increased number of orders if you want to make a profit. Do some math before announcing any sales.

Check out the table below. Find the gross margin of your product in the left column, then find the column that shows your price decrease. Where the two numbers intersect is a number that shows how many more units you have to sell as a result of a price decrease to maintain the same gross profit.

Calculate the discount

It is not strictly necessary to have a holiday season sale. How?

Learn more here: 6 Settings That Turn Your Store Into a Magnet for Holiday Shoppers (Without Discounting)

7. Manipulating your prices

You raised the cost of items a couple of days before the sale and then reduced them by the same amount. You highlighted the price difference on your website, announcing that you are having a sale. Yes, you will create a psychological effect with this discount, but your current clients will notice the trick.

Or maybe you announced the promo “Sale! 70% off!” and made a discount in the online store for unpopular products. That way you may entice customers to come into the store, but many of them will leave disappointed.

How to avoid this issue:

We are sure you wouldn’t do this! But just in case — don’t deceive buyers. If you aren’t ready to give a discount, go a different direction.

Learn more: How to Maximize Revenue From Existing Customers

8. Increased traffic causing site delays

When your discounts attract lots of visitors, your website can take longer to load. Or the payment service fails, and buyers can’t pay for orders. Or… anything else that’s out of your control.

How to avoid this issue:

      • Optimize product images to increase the load capability of your online store.
      • Add additional payment methods.
      • Employ an assistant who will answer clients’ questions via chat or over the phone.
      • Check the availability of all the items in your online store. Make sure your inventory is accurate to avoid customers ordering products that are not in stock.
      • Make sure that your web hosting, domain name, email service, and all other services you use are paid for in advance.

If there is any aspect of your process that can be done ahead of time, do it now, Elizabeth at Cloud 9 Design advises:

Eizabeth, Cloud9Design

Elizabeth, Cloud9Design

“You can even rope your kids into doing some basic prep for you, such as sticking postage labels on all your envelopes, assembling a batch of dispatch boxes, or cutting strips of ribbon to size. Prepare a few standard customer inquiry responses as templates now. It will save so much time being able to reply to emails by simply editing a template rather than starting each response from scratch.
It’s surprising how time-consuming these little tasks can be when you have more urgent things that need your attention in the midst of Christmas chaos.”

And one more piece of advice from Elizabeth to keep your own holiday preparations on track:

“Prepare for your own Christmas celebrations early. Write out all your cards so that they’re ready to post, buy all your gifts early, and get the wrapping done. It’ll be one less thing to worry about in December when your business is booming.”

Happy selling!

About The Author
Anna is a content creator at Ecwid. She loves big cities, pasta and Woody Allen's films.

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