Posted Nov 6, 2020 by Nicole

Getting Your E-Commerce Shop Thanksgiving Ready

Ahh Thanksgiving. A holiday full of well-loved traditions involving family, friends, and a societal love for turkey. Thanksgiving signals the official start of the holiday season, and along with that, brings us one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday (after all, isn’t Thanksgiving just Black Friday Eve?).

Black Friday, and its cousins Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, work together to bring us a triple punch of selling opportunities. And while the three “holidays” usually highlight separate ways to shop, 2020 has blurred the lines between online and offline, and given an opportunity for small businesses to succeed not just on Saturday, but over the whole holiday weekend. Think of 2020 as the year of e-commerce Thanksgiving.

But of course, you already knew that Thanksgiving can help your e-commerce business grow. What you’re wondering is how to bring customers to your store for Thanksgiving, and how to prep your business for some serious holiday shopping.

Read on for a checklist to help you get your e-commerce shop Thanksgiving ready.

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Why Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving presents an opportunity for increased revenue. Namely, it signals the beginning of the holiday season: a time when increased attention is paid to family, and because of that, many people exchange heartfelt gifts. Does this sound like the perfect opportunity to you? Well, it should! One of the hallmarks of a small business is an emphasis on products that speak to individuals.

Do you sell handmade goods from a faraway country? Or puzzles made from custom artwork? Both of these are examples of gifts with a personal touch, i.e., the exact type of gifts that families love to exchange during the holidays.

Another reason to run a Thanksgiving campaign for your e-commerce store? Many of your competitors might be too caught up in preparing for the big gift-exchanging holidays in December (think Christmas, Hanukkah, etc) to pay attention to Thanksgiving, making the field less crowded for a great promotional campaign or deal.

And of course, there’s no getting Thanksgiving ready without getting Black Friday ready as well. So let’s explore how to get prepped.

First, Analytics

Before you get to the fun stuff, like adding colorful banners to your site and rolling out promotions, it’s helpful to dive into some analytics. How in-depth you go will depend on your time and budget, but here are some simple ways to get started. And since it’s already November, the time to start is NOW.

Demographics

Who is buying your products? Who is visiting your site and social media sales channels? Does this data match your intended target audience? There are a ton of ways to get into the data of who and when, using what we call “insights” and “analytics.”

A surprising amount of insights are accessible from existing platforms, whether that be your Ecwid control panel, or your Business Instagram account (lucky you, we have a whole post about using Instagram for business).

Do some research on insights, and record the key demographics by location, age, gender, and shopping times. That will help you figure out how to target your Thanksgiving promotions.


A sampling of Instagram analytics

Eyeing the competition

Then you’ll want to do some research on your competition. Do you know who your biggest commercial rival is? Maybe it’s Amazon, or maybe it’s the brick and mortar shop down the road. Either way, look into their promotional campaigns. Sign up for their email lists, or go scope out their shop. Pay special attention to promotions (if they have them) that they ran last year around this time.

This will help you get the lay of the land as far as what others have done, and figure out a strategy for beating your competitors at their own game.

With these basics down, you’re ready to move on to the fun stuff: the nuts and bolts of getting your shop Thanksgiving ready!

Prepare Yourself (and Your Store)

First up is one of the first things your customers will see: your product descriptions and photos. A good product description and photo combination can really amp up your selling game, so listen up.

Product descriptions

What does a perfect product description look like? For starters, think more is more. Not only should your description be a comprehensive guide to what the product is, but it should attempt to include as many relevant details as possible, including sizing measurements, colors, materials, ingredients, potential allergens, etc.

Adjectives are your friend. So are words in general, so get writing and writing, and then write some more. Still stumped? We have a guide to writing product descriptions that sell.

Product photos

Good, clear photos of what your shop has to offer will give your customers the best possible sense of your product before they buy it. Make sure you use the best quality camera possible, shoot in front of a bright, neutral backdrop, and take pictures from multiple angles. We have a list of more tips and tricks for taking great photos for your online store.

Updating product descriptions and images will give your customers the best selling experience possible, and minimize the risk of returns and complaints, which is extra important during this busy time of year.

Theming

While your store no doubt has excellent products and sales channels to promote your inventory year-round, there’s nothing like some holiday festivity to play with your design and copy, and make your shop feel more festive! Thanksgiving is an underrated opportunity for exactly this type of autumnal change-up, as it comes before the wintery overtures of later in the season.

Think about the ways in which you might include some holiday theming in your overall shop look, whether its a themed banner (complete with turkeys, pumpkin pies, and brightly colored leaves) or a series of Instagram polls debating your favorite Thanksgiving side dish.


Some Thanksgiving theming, courtesy of Whole Foods

Don’t have a brand you can change up for the holidays? No worries! There are subtle ways to give off the flavor of the season. Try just playing with the color palette on a couple of Instagram posts, or adding a new, Thanksgiving-friendly profile picture to your Facebook. Customers love dynamic design, but it’s all a matter of getting creative while staying true to your brand.

Can’t get enough theming? You might even want to try out a themed sale or offer, which brings us to our next point:

Thanksgiving Sales and Campaign Offers

Did someone say sale? If you’re just starting out in the e-commerce world, you may be wondering what a successful marketing campaign looks like. Well, the easiest place to start might be with an email campaign that offers a deal or discount.

If you shop, you are probably used to email campaigns as a consumer, so you already have an understanding of how an email campaign works (cool, right?). But here are some tips for starting a successful email campaign to get your ready for the Thanksgiving holiday selling season.

Step 1: Set up a promotional calendar

The first step is to create a holiday promotional calendar. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.

But because Thanksgiving is likely the first holiday promotion on your list, don’t worry too much about getting the whole thing filled out. The important thing is to make a placeholder, and to begin to think of your Thanksgiving promotions as an extension of your holiday seasonal sales and content, so that when other holidays sneak up on you, you’ll have some materials already in place and can more easily spring into action.


A simple, color-coordinated promotional calendar can help you prepare for Thanksgiving and holiday promotions

Step 2: Pick a product

This might be the most important Thanksgiving sale decision you make. Maybe you have an item in your inventory that feels a little “Thanksgiving-y.” Maybe you just want to offer a discount on one of your best selling products to attract potential loyal customers. Or, maybe you have a brand new release that you are super excited about, and want to get the word out.

There’s no wrong answer to the “what product?” question, but there might be a “best” answer for your specific shop. Here are some particularly popular item categories for holiday shopping (including Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales), which might help you pick the best product to promote:

  • Apparel: The most popular holiday shopping category by far (in fact, Deloitte shows that clothing made up 55% of gift sales last year) . If clothes are your thing, great! Maybe offer up a sweater, or an item in an autumnal color for you offer.
  • Games, toys, dolls, etc: Unsurprisingly, kids and holidays go together like peanut butter and jelly. Toys and games for little ones are a great thing to put on offer, as they range in price from state-of-the-art kids gadgets to little stocking stuffers that you can make free with a larger purchase.
  • Books: all that extra time spent inside means one thing — reading is making a comeback this year! Not a bookseller? That’s okay. Play up any paper good you might have: stationery, pamphlets, bookshelves, etc.
  • Gift cards: Never underestimate the power of cold hard cash when it comes to gifting. And in this case, we mean a nice, old fashioned gift card. Gift cards have long been a staple of gift giving, allowing for maximum flexibility with minimal shopping effort. If your shop doesn’t offer certificates or e-gift cards, consider adding them to your holiday line-up, and offering an early season stock-up promotion for Turkey Day.


A handy chart of planned holiday purchases

Step 3: A mailing list

If you don’t have a mailing list, now is a great time to get one! Our Ecwid Business Plan features Mailchimp, which has a whole suite of automated email features that can help any new e-commerce merchant get the hang of it. Otherwise, you’ll have to send out individual emails to get the word out.

Step 4: The offer copy

You know the product you want to base your campaign around. Now it’s time to decide on an offer. Do you want your customers to take a percentage off, to offer free shipping, or a free gift with purchase? Once again, there are no wrong answers, but it’s important to consider your marketing budget (and your bottom line) before you go all in on a sale.

Once you’ve picked your promotion, you want to write an email about it to send out to your mailing list. Try to craft something eye-catching (here’s a great place for some design flair) that will both detail why your sale item is special, and why this deal is perfectly timed for Thanksgiving.

Also: 5 Types of BOGO(F) Promotions You Can Run in Your Store

Step 5: Apply changes to your store

A small, but important thing: make sure you’ve applied the offer to your store’s interface to head off any technical glitches and customer service complaints. Also make sure you’ve stocked up on the item on sale, to avoid the dreaded “Sold Out” problem in the middle of your promotion.

Step 6: Send it out

Now you’re ready to roll. Get the word out about your great deal through your mailing list. Then sit back, and (hopefully) watch the sales trickle in.

It’s also a great idea to promote your Thanksgiving sale or deal on social media. See our guides and tips to selling on social media platforms, from selling on Instagram to working with Etsy.

10 Days to Your Holiday Season Sale

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Flash Thanksgiving Sales

Sure, a full-fledged discount campaign is a great selling tool. But have you ever thought about running a Thanksgiving flash sale?

A flash sale is a sale or promotion which has a short duration time, usually twenty-four to forty-eight hours. It is announced right when it starts (or, maybe the night before) and is characterized by a flooding of promotional material during that time to remind potential buyers of the great deal they are about to miss out on.

Flash sales are a great way to promote customer interest, make dynamic marketing content, and most importantly, create a sense of urgency. Research shows that the holiday shopping season is earlier than ever this year, meaning that gift giving is already on a lot of buyer’s minds. This is a good thing for sellers. After all, wouldn’t you like to close the deal on that new mug for grandma in November, instead of waiting until the day before Christmas? A flash sale can help.

A flash sale is also a great way to test out new merchandise, or generate interest for potential all-star products that never seem to get the credit they deserve.

Another great thing about a flash sale? You can use the same steps as above to implement the sale. The only difference is that you have to speed up the timeline so that all your promotional materials drop within a 24-hour time period, and close the sale off through your shop the second the sale ends.

When planning a flash sale, keep a couple of other things in mind:

  • Your capacity: What’s that? You’re running your business solo? AND you promised to make a socially-distanced Thanksgiving dinner for six? Yeah, then Thanksgiving Day might not be the best time to run a flash sale. Try Small Business Saturday instead.
  • Promotional materials: a flash sale needs a large amount of marketing material: emails, social posts, etc., for a short amount of time. Have a lot of your content prepped and ready to go in the days and weeks ahead of Thanksgiving so that you’ll be ready to roll on Flash sale day.
  • The deal! As with any deal, make sure you pick a compelling offer, and have the deal enabled through your shop so that you don’t get a crowd of customer service complaints at the last second. And, as we said, it’s vital to stock up on the product so your inventory holds.

Lastly: when planning a flash sale, timing is everything. Think long and hard about the most effective day for your business (weekday vs. weekend, Thanksgiving Day vs. Cyber Monday) before flipping the switch on a flash one-day deal. Because once the deal is on, you can’t take it back!

Also: How to Run a Flash Sale to Boost Profits Fast

Make Your Thanksgiving Traction Last All Holiday Season Long

Are you already giving 120% to get ready for a Thanksgiving promotion? Remember to pace yourself! Thanksgiving and Black Friday represent the start of the holiday season, not the end. Think about ways in which your promotions for late-November might tie-in to later holiday deals, and see where you might be able to re-use copy or promotions to make less work for yourself later.

Support

Good support might be the most important part of making your business dreams come true. That goes double for the holiday season, when things are likely to get more hectic more quickly than during the rest of the year.

Think about your resources and your team. Stock up on supplies (not to mention inventory) ahead of time to beat the rush and make sure that your items stay in stock when your customers need them most.

Troubleshooting

Inevitably, returns and customer complaints will happen. So, make sure you have your terms and conditions (and an official return policy) listed on your website ahead of time. Also, have someone on-hand to handle complaints (even if that someone is you) and messages that come your way in a timely manner. For more, see our articles on getting more reviews for the holidays and handling negative feedback gracefully.

Make sure that your website has the capacity to deal with increased traffic, starting around the Thanksgiving prep-season. Test your website speed, and make use of all relevant selling tools, like those on your Ecwid control panel, to help keep yourself organized.

Take Care

Remember, this time of the year can be stressful for everyone! It’s important to have a support system in place outside of your business team. Have someone to chat with when you need to to take your mind off the stresses of running an ecommerce site, and remember to treat anyone who is working with you with care, including yourself!


Ecwid’s Help Center: always there for you

Lastly, remember to use customer support when you need it. Ecwid’s Help Center is incredibly handy and efficient. But even if you don’t e-commerce with Ecwid, make sure you know who to call in case something goes awry.

We hope these tips will help you get your e-commerce store ready for Thanksgiving and beyond! Let us know if these tips helped you out, or if you have insights of your own to share in the comments below. And happy Turkey Day to all who celebrate!

About the author
Nicole is a writer and Content Marketing Manager at Ecwid. As newcomer to e-commerce, it’s her goal to provide informative and user friendly articles that are accessible to all stripes of sellers. She is based in Southern California, the perfect place to chase the sun and watch old movies.
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