You’ve seen the endless lines outside of stores during the holiday season. However, COVID-19 has dramatically spiked online sales and will likely continue to dissuade people from shopping in person through the end of 2020. If your WooCommerce store isn’t prepared for an onslaught of customers, you could run into serious trouble.
Now is the time to start planning for the virtual holiday rush. Ensuring your WooCommerce store is in top shape can prevent delayed orders, downtime, or any of a plethora of other potential headaches. While your competitors are struggling, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of Christmas spending.
In this article, we’ll go over five ways that you can prepare your WooCommerce store for what’s sure to be a unique COVID-19 holiday season. Let’s get to it!
Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Prepare Your WooCommerce Store for the Holidays
The holiday season that comes at the end of every year is always a ripe time for retailers to rake in some extra income. Chances are, you have an annual strategy for how to make the most of this time of year, whether it’s through special promotions, seasonal products, or other unique offers.
Depending on your current setup, you might not usually take steps to prepare your WooCommerce site for the holidays from a technical standpoint. However, 2020 isn’t like past years.
With so many people shopping online to avoid contact with others and maintain social distancing guidelines as a result of COVID-19, it’s vital to prepare your site for traffic spikes. You don’t want your server to crash during peak shopping times.
Delayed response times and a backed up checkout process are also problematic and can lead to cart abandonment. However, if you’ve already positioned your WooCommerce site to temporarily scale for the holidays, you can sit back and watch the sales roll in.
How to Prepare Your WooCommerce Store for a COVID-19 Holiday Season
While you can’t necessarily secure your site against everything that could go wrong during an unprecedented holiday season like 2020’s, there are plenty of steps you can take to minimize technical issues and maximize sales. Here are five tips I recommend prioritizing.
1. Use Top-Notch WooCommerce Hosting
There’s a big difference between budget web hosting and a solution that provides top-of-the-line service. As much work as you put into optimizing your WooCommerce store, it won’t matter when you have hundreds or thousands of concurrent visitors during the holidays.
If your current hosting provider doesn’t provide the performance that your site may need, you should consider switching well before the holiday season. Migrating a WordPress website can be a time-consuming process, so get started as early as possible.
At WP Buffs we have plenty of experience when it comes to WooCommerce and WordPress optimization, so we know that using the right web host will make your life a lot easier over the long run.
2. Run Speed Tests and Optimize Your Store’s Performance
Using a solid web host is only the beginning when it comes to WooCommerce optimization. If you want your store to be blazing fast (and you should) then you need to run regular speed tests to find out if it’s taking too long to load.
There are dozens of tools that you can use to analyze your website’s performance. One of my favorites is PageSpeed Insights because it provides you with multiple metrics and gives you optimization recommendations:
At a glance, you can see everything from how long your store takes to fully load to how quickly the first elements appear in visitors’ browsers.
Ideally, your store should always load in under two seconds. However, optimization becomes even more important as the holidays close in. Since you can expect to receive more traffic, your store will be under heavier strain. Proper optimization should ensure that your site doesn’t buckle, even under pressure.
There are a lot of things you can do to improve your store’s performance, including:
- Optimizing your product images
- Minimizing scripts on your website
- Using a lightweight, responsive theme
If you make an effort to ensure that your store loads and feels fast, you’ll reap the benefits throughout the entire year. Since improving site speed involves so much work.
3. Consider Adding More Payment Processor Options
One of the best ways to increase sales on your WooCommerce store is to add more payment gateways to it. This increases the chances that potential customers will find an option they like and that they trust.
WooCommerce has an edge over other online sales platforms (such as Shopify) in that you have access to a massive library of extensions. These include dozens of integrations for payment processing solutions from around the world:
Ideally, you want to offer more than one option, although which specific processors you choose will depend on where your customers are located.
Adding new payment gateways right in the middle of the holiday season is a recipe for disaster. For example, if you plan to offer subscriptions at a discount, you want to make sure that the recurring payment solution that you choose works properly well before Christmas rolls around.
4. Test Your WooCommerce Sale and Promotions Tools
Shoppers expect stores to cater to them during the holidays with special offers and sales. You probably already have experience when it comes to creating product discounts. However, there’s a whole world of WooCommerce tools that you can use to set up unique sales that appeal to your clientele.
For example, you can set up a points and rewards system to incentivize customers to return and make additional purchases. As you might imagine, there are plenty of WooCommerce extensions that you can use to implement such a system:
Another option that you might consider is implementing a referral system that provides discounts to customers who get their friends to make purchases. This is a fantastic way to scale your WooCommerce store.
However, just as with your payment processors, you don’t want to be stuck in the testing phase right in the middle of the best sales season of the year. This invites too many opportunities for errors or other mishaps.
Instead, plan ahead what type of sales and promotions you want to run during the holidays and test the tools you’ll need to carry them out. Setting up small scale trial sales is simple, and will show you if there are any flaws in your plans.
5. Set Up an Analytics Solution for Your Store
Pretty much any type of website can benefit from an analytics solution. If you’re not collecting data about the way users behave on your e-commerce site, you’re missing out key information that can help you improve your store’s functionality.
Analytics paint a picture of how customers feel about your website. Are they leaving before making a purchase or dropping out during the checkout process? What keywords brought them to your store? These are all questions this data can answer for you.
The holidays provide you with one of the best opportunities of the year to collect as much information about shoppers as possible. However, you don’t want to rush to set up an analytics tool right before the rush hits.
Ideally, you’ll take the time to test if the solution you choose is working properly. To get the most out of your analytics tool, you’ll want to configure it so it tracks the data you care about the most for your store.
If you don’t know where to start, Google Analytics is an excellent tool for beginners and more experienced users alike. It’s also pretty easy to integrate with WooCommerce.
The holidays always bring a spike in sales to online stores. When you combine that with the impact COVID-19 has had on e-commerce in 2020, we might be facing a holiday season unlike any other. If you want to make sure your WooCommerce store is ready, you need to start preparing right away.
Here’s what we recommend:
- Use top-notch WooCommerce hosting.
- Run speed tests and optimize your store’s performance.
- Consider adding more payment processor options.
- Test your WooCommerce sale and promotions tools.
- Set up an analytics solution for your store.
Do you have any questions about how to prepare your WooCommerce store for the holidays? Ask away in the comments section below!