Holiday Post-Mortem: How Was Your Online Store’s First Season?

Posted On October 19, 2020

We’ve dedicated ten blog posts to helping your new online store have its best possible first holiday season. Now, it’s time for the post-holiday postgame review. 

Even if you’re all holiday-ed out from managing your holiday promotions and filling gift orders, reviewing how you did will help you prepare better (and earlier) for next year’s holiday rush. It can also help you market smarter and grow your sales throughout the year.

Let’s dig in!

Dig into your holiday promo data

There are so many ways to analyze marketing data that it’s a whole industry to itself. To review your store’s first holiday season, focus on this information:

  1. Audience: Did your audience respond to your holiday promos the way you thought they would? If not, look at your messaging—and your audience personas. They may need refinement. Did people outside your target audience respond? You may have found another persona or two. 
  2. Timing: How well did your audience respond to promos you launched in October, November, and December? Compare the response from month to month, week to week and even day to day to see when your audience was most engaged. Use that info to maximize your promo mojo next holiday season.
  3. Goals: Did your promo marketing help you grow your audience, build brand awareness, or drive traffic to your site?
  4. Channels: Which channels got the most engagement? Focus on those even more over the coming year so you’ll have a ready audience for next year’s holiday promos.
  5. Content: Did your elf memes get tons of shares? Did videos of your workshop process drive sales? Were people wild about your giveaways? Take notes on what worked best. 

Did your holiday exclusives fly off the shelves?

If your promotions did their job, you got customers to your store to check out your holiday exclusives, special gift items and product bundles. Once they arrived, did customers buy? 

Which items sold best? Which generated the biggest profit margins? What did customers say in their feedback and reviews? All of this info can help you decide which offers to focus on next holiday season for traffic to your site, sales, and profit. If you had a hot seller this year, bring it back next year with some fanfare.

How many customers opted for your holiday delivery offers?

Did you offer any special holiday delivery deals, like local same-day and next-day options, gift wrap and extended return policies? If so, how many customers took you up on these deals, and what was your ROI? Use this info to decide which offers to keep next year, which to improve, and how to promote them. 

Did you wrap and pack orders like Santa’s elves? 

Or did the process leave you ready to pack it in? Make notes now on which whether you had enough:

  • Materials, including shipping boxes, labels, ink, tape, gift wrap
  • Space to wrap and package items
  • Staff to get orders packed and out the door 
  • time to get it all done before hitting seasonal shipping deadlines

You may need to adjust your timetable, find more space, hire seasonal help or stock up on shipping stuff earlier before the next holiday rush.

Did customers get their stuff on time? 

Nothing kills the holiday gift-giving buzz like a late or lost package. To see if your shipping carriers and tracking tools kept the party going for your customers, look at:

  • How many customer orders arrived on time.
  • How well your package-tracking apps or plugins worked.
  • How many customer service contacts you had about package tracking.
  • Rates and surcharges you paid for holiday shipping.

If your carriers or tracking tools underperformed, you can start looking for alternatives now. And if you had an avalanche of “where’s my order” inquiries, it’s definitely time to improve your store’s tracking tools.

How did your holiday customers pay? 

Which payment methods did your customers use most in Q4? You may want to offer more options like the most popular methods. For example, if Apple Pay was the most-used method, consider adding other digital wallet options. 

Did your holiday customer service deliver the goods? 

Look at your holiday season numbers and customer service logs for:

  • Total customer service inquiries through all channels (email, phone, text, social, chat). Compare your totals to earlier periods in the year to see if there was a jump in questions during the holidays.
  • Number of inquiries in each channel. Which channels did your customers use most? Bulk up those channels this year so you can deliver an even better experience next holiday season.
  • Common questions or issues. Add the top questions to your store FAQ page and fix any issues.
  • Your response time. Use your average holiday response time as a benchmark and work on getting faster in the year ahead.
  • How satisfied customers were with your responses. Fast responses are great. Fast, accurate responses are customer service gold. Benchmark your holiday customer service satisfaction rate and use the coming year to increase it.

How well did your store stop fraud?

Fraudsters use the holiday shopping surge to try to get past fraud controls and busy fraud reviewers. You’ll want to find out if your store had a rise in fraud attempts during Q4. If so, you need to know how well your fraud prevention tools worked. Look at your holiday season numbers for:

Orders rejected for possible fraud. Your eCommerce platform, payment service providers and fraud prevention program may all have data on this metric. This can show you whether you had more attempted fraud during the holidays than before.

Flagged orders approved after manual review. If you or your fraud prevention provider review flagged orders instead of automatically rejecting them, tally up how many were approved after review. This can show you how many false declines you avoided. If you don’t do manual review, you may want to add it to avoid rejecting good customers.

Chargebacks. This data will come from your bank, during and after the holidays, if cardholders find fraudulent orders on their statements that were placed in your store. Divide this number by your total transactions during the holidays sales period to find your chargeback rate. If it’s more than 1%, you need stronger fraud protection.

Did your website keep it together during the holidays?

Did your site crash or slow down because of extra holiday visitors? If so, you may need to upgrade your hosting plan to handle more traffic during next year’s holiday season. Upgrading sooner will also help your site handle other high-traffic events like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and any promotions you run that are super popular.

Did your stock tracking tools give customers accurate info about which items were in stock and which weren’t? If you got customer complaints about this, look into upgrading or changing your stock management tools for the year ahead. 

Finally, we hope your store didn’t get hacked, held for ransom or defaced during the holiday rush. If it did, you already know you need to step up your site security as soon as possible. That’ll keep your store and your customers safer all year long—and give you the post-holiday gift of peace of mind.

Protect your eCommerce website from hackers, malware, and more with SiteLock, starting at just $1.99/month.

Written by Ken

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