In about three weeks, the largest shopping weekend of the year will be upon us. The reality is, merchants have already started promoting their sales and customers have already started shopping. However, it’s not too late to get in the game—but you have to start now!
We recently hosted a five-part meetup series over at GoDaddy Pro events talking about holiday readiness. I was fortunate enough to be able to share the essentials to kick off the series and host experts for 3 of the other 4 events!
If you still need to get ready for the “BFCM” (Black Friday, Cyber Monday) weekend, here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know! (For a more comprehensive tour, check out my (Shopping from) Home for the Holidays workshop here.)
Check the Essentials
To start, you need to make sure you have chosen a host for your website and set up your store using a WooCommerce-compatible theme. You also need to have some products in your store. If you ship products, you also need to set up shipping details.
Finally, make sure you properly set up tax collection (I recommend using a plugin/service like WooCommerce AvaTax) and update your inventory!
If you want to accept payments online – which you probably do – you need to connect to a payment gateway. This gives your site the ability to validate and charge credit cards. I, as you might imagine, would recommend connecting to GoDaddy Payments, but there are many great options available.
In addition, you should also consider adding more than one option. Even in 2021, many customers don’t feel comfortable providing their credit card numbers online. Or, in some cases, a customer in a certain country may not have a credit card to enter. To account for these cases, you’re best to add an option like PayPal in addition to the credit card processor.
Secure Your Store
The BFCM weekend is the single highest-transaction weekend of the year. Because of this, it’s a prime target for hackers and cyber thieves. You definitely want to make sure you’re protected long before the threat of a breach!
For most stores, the basic security options will suffice. Make sure you have installed an SSL certificate and your site is being served using “HTTPS” and not “HTTP” (check your browser’s address bar). An SSL will encrypt the login and credit card data that is being sent from your site to external sources like a credit card gateway. As a bonus, you’ll avoid being penalized by Google’s search algorithm for not having it.
Secondly, you should get with your hosting company to make sure to set up a WAF, or web application firewall. This will help block suspicious parties from reaching your site at all.
Lastly, you’ll want to have some kind of site monitoring in place. You can use a service like Sucuri or WordFence, but any monitoring will do. Keeping an eye on the files, server, and database are the best ways to know if you’re a target.
Review Email Marketing and Transactional Emails
Email is still the best way to engage customers—40x more effective at getting new customers than Twitter or Facebook! For this reason, you want to make sure that your email marketing campaigns are ready to go. Tidy up those subject lines, review your copy, test all the links, and be sure to schedule your emails. No reason to wait until the day arrives to send them!
And don’t forget those transactional emails! Sure, make sure they are sending and include accurate information, but don’t forget that you can use them to upsell additional products as well. (Check your local laws to see what’s legal.)
Finally, connect your site to an analytics provider like Google Analytics. Leading up to the BFCM weekend, you’ll be able to see what’s working and what isn’t and, more importantly, make timely changes to sell more products. That’s what this is all about, right?
Check in on your statistics once or twice each week to see where customers are exiting your site. Is there a way that you can encourage them to keep shopping? You’ll never know if you don’t try and look at the data!
This is just a high-level overview of what you need to get ready for the holiday season. However, if you can do all of these things above, you’re about 90% of the way there! For that additional 10%, make sure to check out the slides for my workshop in our other blog article here.