Preparing Your Site for the Holiday Rush

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Well, the predictions are in and according to Investor’s Business Daily, Forrester Research, Inc. states that despite concerns over consumer confidence and the impact of gas prices, U.S. consumers will spend $18 billion online during this holiday season [2005].

That’s up 25% from 2004. If this predication comes true, you’ll potentially have hordes of traffic at your site starting right about… NOW!

Are you ready?

Of course you are. You’ve done your marketing, placed your ads, stocked your shelves. What else could possibly need to be done? Well, here are a few things most people don’t think about. Be sure you give due attention to them to ensure your holiday season is very merry.

Web Site Bandwidth

Many hosting companies place limits on your bandwidth or file transfers. This is so they are able to have an accurate idea of how much their servers will be put through. When you reach or exceed your bandwidth with your host, one of two things happens.

(1) They charge you an extra fee;

(2) They shut you down.

Neither option is good!


Be sure you have enough bandwidth to handle extra traffic at this time of year. Check with your host. What happens if you exceed your limit? It’s better to know now and plan ahead than to find out the hard way.


Double-check your ordering process. Is it simple and easy? Have you checked it? Have you had someone who’s unfamiliar with it check it? The last thing you need during a holiday rush is 50% of your visitors dumping out of your shopping cart because they can’t figure out how to include a gift card.


Speaking of gift cards… be sure you have a way to include them with orders. Most purchases from now until December 25th will be for gifts. Your inability to include gift cards with orders may very well knock out some of your sales.


Double-check your follow-up mailings or confirmations. Are they in place? Have they been tested? This includes order confirmation notices, credit card purchase receipts, shipping notice templates, autoresponder messages for backend sales, and so on.


Place customer service information prominently on your site. If customers hit a glitch, they’ll need someone to call. If the shopping cart won’t cooperate, what can customers do? If your customer service/support information is clearly placed on your site, your customers can contact you rather than choosing another site to buy from.


Verify all links on your site. Have you checked them lately? You should! How awful would it be if the link to your new, hot, oh-so-very-popular product had a typo in it? “Page Cannot Be Found” is the song you’d be singing instead of “Joy to the World.”


Talk with your suppliers. Are they ready? Do they have enough of their products to meet your expected demands? This is not the time of year for backorders!


Set shipping deadlines. Calculate the exact date you’ll have to stop promising delivery before Christmas then make it crystal clear to your visitors. Nothing’s worse than a ticked-off customer whose presents didn’t arrive on time.


Verify shipper deadlines. Have you spoken with your local shipper? Whether you’re using the postal service, UPS, FedEx, or some other company, you’ll want to contact them to find out THEIR “before Christmas” deadline.

While these may seem like small details, they can truly cause some serious delays to your holiday shoppers (not to mention damage to your bottom line). However, if you’re prepared before the rush starts… if you give due attention to the little details… you’ll find your Christmas rush is a lot more pleasant and a lot more profitable!

Diane Hughes
ATTENTION! I am giving away $2,446.13 worth of marketing tools and products and over $5,010.64 worth of resale rights. Demand is great and memberships are going fast!

Preparing Your Site for the Holiday Rush
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