How to plan a successful ecommerce Christmas

As I write this there are only 90 days to go until Christmas. So is your ecommerce business ready?

The Christmas period offers a massive opportunity for online shops, with more people shopping online than ever before. In the UK last year (2014), 40% of Christmas shopping was done online, with £21.6bn spent on ecommerce websites in the eight weeks leading up to Christmas and a further £810 million spent online on Black Friday alone (Source: IMRG e-Retail Sales Index).

ecommerce christmas

To make the most of these opportunities, marketing planning is crucial. To maximise the opportunities available, you need to set the wheels in motion almost as soon as Christmas is over. Here’s what you need to do to plan the perfect Christmas campaign for your online shop.

From Summer until September


If your store has been running for several years, you will have a good idea when demand is highest for your products. If this is your first or second Christmas in business, use Google trends to see when people start searching for Christmas gifts in your category and when they peak. For example, the chart below shows searches for toys – which increase steadily through the summer and peak in November.

Google toy searches in 2015

Source: Google

The summer is also the ideal time to complete keyword research and create and optimise product pages and content to rank for the terms people will be searching for when the holiday period arrives. It takes time for content to get ranked and appear on search engines, so don’t leave this too late!

Optimise your mobile experience

ecommerce christmasLast year 53% of consumers did their Christmas shopping on a mobile or tablet, and this number is expected to rise. To maximise sales opportunities it’s vital your site is mobile friendly. Go through the complete purchase process on a mobile and tablet and fix any glitches now.

Create your integrated Christmas marketing plan

Plan your campaigns, choose which channels you will utilise and map out exactly what will happen and when. Consider:

  • What promotions, offers and sales you will run
  • What emails you will send and to what segments of your list
  • When website content, landing pages and banners need to be created or updated
  • What you will share on social media
  • What PPC and social media advertising you will run
  • Any blog content you need to create
  • What offline marketing you’ll do and where this will direct visitors to

For a detailed guide to creating an effective marketing strategy and plan, read our free marketing ebook.


Kick off your campaigns

Now is the time to start rolling out your Christmas campaigns, if you haven’t already. Although you might not explicitly mention the holiday season, be aware that people are already researching and buying their Christmas purchases and so now is a good time to run offers to encourage people to get their shopping done before the rush. Google found that a quarter start their Christmas shopping before Halloween, with nearly half (48%) completing the majority of their shopping before Cyber Monday.

Build your contact list

Focus on increasing your email marketing list and social media followers ready for Christmas. Try offering free delivery or 10% off the first order in return for email sign up or run a competition on social media.

Update delivery and returns information

Ensure your delivery and returns information is easily accessible and crystal clear. Shoppers are understandably more conscious of return policies and delivery timescales during the Christmas period, so reassure them that their purchases will arrive on time by including delivery times and costs on your product pages.

Create holiday content

Get email, blog and social media content written, proof read, designed and ready to go now – before the big rush.

Build trust

Shoppers don’t want to take chances at Christmas. Make sure you have everything in place to reassure visitors you are a trustworthy company – check your About page is up to date, encourage customers to leave reviews and run through this checklist.

November and December

Key UK dates for your ecommerce Christmas 2015

  • 27th November – Black Friday
  • 30th November – Cyber Monday
  • 5th DecemberSmall Business Saturday
  • 19th December – Last posting date for 2nd class
  • 21st December – Last posting date for 1st class
  • 23rd December – Last posting date for Special and Next Day delivery

Keep shoppers interested

During this final Christmas shopping period, competition is fierce. Now is the time to utilise the contacts you built up earlier in the year to keep your customers coming back to you with special deals, useful bundles or time saving offerings like gift wrapping.

Promote last posting dates

Clearly signpost and promote last posting dates on-site as well as via email and social media.

What next after your last shipping date?

Decide what you’ll do after your last shipping date. If you plan to offer online gift vouchers, add this into your promotional plan. 

Get ready for Christmas Day and Boxing Day sales

With the build up to Christmas it’s easy to forget the January sales. However Christmas Day and Boxing Day are now two of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Last year Experian reported 147 million visits to retail websites on Christmas Day, and UK shoppers spent £500 million online on Boxing Day. Prepare your sales activity ahead of time to maximise your sales and minimise the amount of time you’ll spend updating your shop on Christmas Day!

ecommerce christmas

Will you have a merry ecommerce Christmas?

We hope you found this article useful. If you’re looking to maximise your online business over the festive season, get in touch – we’d love to help.

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