Preparing for the ecommerce holiday season

Tips & Tricks

With August on the horizon, we are bracing ourselves for what we like to call the “Ecommerce Holiday Panic Season”. This is the period between August and October when ecommerce merchants remember all the cool things they want to implement before the holiday shopping season. There are 5 major types of ecommerce work that if you’re not already talking to your devs about, you may be in trouble:

  1. An ecommerce implementation (or migration to a new platform)
  2. New landing pages or major design updates
  3. Complex promotions
  4. New integrations
  5. Major updates to your product catalog

1. An ecommerce implementation

A typical mid-sized ecommerce implementation takes (on average) 3-6 months. There are A LOT of variables at play here: custom design, integrations, custom features, etc. The more complex your project is, the longer it will take. If you’re looking to launch or re-launch before the holidays, talk to your developers NOW. Ask them for the reality. 90% of the time it is better to wait and launch AFTER the holiday season, rather than launch a buggy or incomplete site that alienates customers and hurts sales. We’ve seen folks who have dropped as much as 50% in revenue because of failed/rushed launches.

2. Custom features/designs

It is very rare that someone asks for something that has never been done on another ecommerce site somewhere. But just because someone else has it, doesn’t mean it was easy. If you are looking to make design changes or add new features for the holidays, get your designers on them ASAP. The design process itself can take longer than anticipated, leaving developers with even less time to build. Have your designers come up with concepts early. Show those to your developers, have them come up with estimates and potential issues early. Do not let your designers create something in isolation then assume your developers can get it done in time. Some ecommerce platforms have inflexible architectures that limit what can be done, no matter how pretty the designs are.

3. Complex promotions

Most ecommerce platforms have tight restrictions on the types of promotions you can use out of the box. If you’re planning on running a promotion you’ve never tried before, talk to your developers about what is available on your ecommerce platform. With Sellvana we’ve taken out a lot of this guess work for you by building an easy to use promotion rules engine that handles 90% of what we see out in the market, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be so lucky with your system.

4. New integrations

Integrations can be tricky. In fact, depending on your ecommerce platform, you may not have as much flexibility as you’d think when it comes to getting data in and out. The same is true of the systems you want to integrate with, they may only have one way of exporting or importing data. Get these projects scoped out in as much detail as possible. What are the pieces of data that need to be exchanged? What does that workflow look like? How often will it happen? What integration methods are available? Scope it out, get an estimate, and test the heck out of it. You don’t want to launch a buggy integration that brings down your whole site in the middle of your busiest season.

5. Major updates to your product catalog

Getting data into an ecommerce platform can be a nightmare. Most ecommerce platforms have convoluted import processes that require developers to get involved just to import a spreadsheet of 10 new products. Imagine adding 200-500 new SKUs in time for the holiday season. A nightmare! It gets even worse if you want to step up your game and add more fields/attributes for filtering, searching, etc. Come up with an initial catalog update spreadsheet early on, and review it with your development team. Find out what data is missing, what format everything has to be in, and how long they think it will take.

Too long? Didn’t read it? Here is the key take away: Figure out the high-level details of what you want to do for the holidays early and talk to your developers. Get an idea of how long things will take and be ready to make compromises. Mostly importantly: sometimes it is better to just wait for the season to be over, rather than lose customers forever.

Here at Sellvana, we have created a platform that makes all of the above easier.

  1. Flexible front end templates, reducing implementation times
  2. Flexible architecture, making it easier to added customizations and new features
  3. Powerful promotion rules engine
  4. Robust set of web services for easy integrations
  5. Import/export tools to make catalog updates smooth

Want to find out more? Reach out to us @ feedback@sellvana.com

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