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Guide | October 20, 2020

The Last-Minute BOPIS Checklist To Boost Holiday Sales

Holiday season is just around the corner. All preparations should be almost done by now. But it is always a good idea to have a detailed checklist, and go through all the important tasks to make sure you have everything, especially when your business is experiencing numerous shifts with BOPIS.

A. User Experience Enhancement

Bringing new customers with seasonal sales to your businesses is just half the challenge. You can build up your daily customer base if you let your customer service shine during the holiday rush. While price is now even more of a primary consideration for customers than the previous peak season, customer service is catching up.

1. Infrastructure Evaluation

a. Server Capability

It is predictable that your eCommerce website would encounter traffic peaks that are much higher than usual. Therefore, make sure to perform load testing to determine the traffic and user capacity of your website, and troubleshoot any other performance issues that need attention. This will help avoid site crashes due to sudden high demand during holiday sales and confirm that it is sufficient for running smoothly across all channels and devices.

b. Site Speed Enhancement

Customers are impatient people: 40% would abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. This is not solely about sales or money, it is also about damage to your brand awareness, customer experience failure and SEO ranking drop.

  • Brand awareness damages

Websites that load quickly send the signal instantly that this site is safe and competent in operation. Otherwise, the user will immediately think of your website as sluggish. Is this website trustworthy? Are they trying to get my details stolen? 79% of online shoppers said they would not return to a website if they considered it to be slow. 

  • User Experience

After the first experience, consumers would continue to search your site and check for the product or service they need. You have to make sure the material is well structured and blazing fast. Not only does a poor browsing experience frustrate customers, but you are running the risk that they will never visit your site again. Therefore, build strong, insightful stock and maximize the pace to its fullest. 


A poor browsing experience makes customers never visit your site again.

  • SEO Ranking Drop

Google confirmed that site load speed is one of the crucial points to rank the search results according to their Core Web Vitals released in 2020. If your site loading speed is slower than two seconds, the user might have to browse through several pages to find it. And such troubles are identified by the Google algorithm and recognized as poor performance. Therefore, it is obvious that your website would be marked as not providing a seamless and convenient experience to site visitors.

  • Sales Lost

Amazon, the world’s largest eCommerce company, has announced that if their loading speed increases by just one second, they would lose more than 1.6 billion dollars. If customers aren’t willing to give an extra second to a strong name like Amazon, how do you expect slow site loading times to do business? In the long run, if your customers are not satisfied with the overall impression, you will lose your valuable clients and you will also hurt your sales results.

2. Seasonal & Personalized Merchandising

This holiday shopping season is not like any other. The sudden turn-up of COVID-19 has changed not only the way people consume particular products, but also how they search for a truly connected and safe shopping experience both online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

a. Omnichannel Integration

Transparency and exchanging feedback are crucial to creating a frictionless experience. In order to enable such practices, your eCommerce website needs to adopt Omnichannel integration. Along with pools of data crawled across multi-channels by omnichannel systems, the truly personalized suggestions that match customers’ preferences shall be carried out. This surely pleases shoppers with a seamless shopping trip and enables them to pay more for extra sales for products they did not know they would need.

Moreover, a perfect omnichannel system shall include Real-time Visibility of Inventory along with the use of store stock for completion, and Notification Aligned with Shopping Journey. If certain stores have stock and allow quicker pick-up, or if the preferred pick-up store does not have stock and takes a few more days to move, consumers will know and act accordingly. Such features enhance transparency and help consumers to take the initiative, including when and how they can get the goods they want.

b. Holiday Product Display

Start by deciding which items you are going to sell this holiday season. Are there unique holiday packages that your target audience wants? What about the favourite of the season? Next, consider how you can view these seasonal items on your site. In your site navigation, for instance, you might have a holiday-specific group. Or a perfect place to highlight the sales and deals is Web banners spread across the top of the page. Make shopping simple in one location by smartly arranging presents.

c. Prior Notice Content

All these drastic shifts are unexpected to both businesses and customers. However, as services are still operating, enterprises have a responsibility to the community to limit disease exposure to a minimum, and to be ahead of possible situations. Therefore, prior notices on measures against COVID-19 are vital to prepare shoppers to comply with requirements.

apple notice 2

With thorough preparation, businesses can avoid conflicts arising during the adoption of new measures.

The information provided needs to include Operation Details, Health Protection Practices and Pick-up Instruction. Such notices should provide working time and areas of operation, health practices such as sanitizing, mask wearing, temperature measurement; along with detailed instructions on BOPIS and Pick-up procedures. With thorough preparation, businesses can avoid conflicts arising during the adoption of new measures and stay away from further damages.

d. Checkout Page Optimization

  • Variety of Payment Options

One key thing to think about are the payment options you’re providing to customers, which has become a much bigger area in the last couple of months due to the economic drop and unemployment rate increase. Not only are they taking more time to consider what the best payment option might be for them, but customers also have varying affinities and loyalties to different providers, so the more payment fields, the better.

Lots of the larger retailers are now offering services like pay after delivery, credit (either with 0% API or at a cost), split payments, etc., which are gradually becoming more important to users.

  • Flexible Shipping/Pick-up Alternatives

Besides the reality that people are more sensitive to being in contact with individuals they are not familiar with due to the pandemic, the number one reason people abandon their carts is unexpected costs, such as shipping. The solution is not offering free shipping on all options, but you should always include multiple shipping options to accommodate all your potential customers.

Some people just want next day delivery and don’t care if they have to pay a little more, while others want the cheapest delivery option and don’t mind a longer delivery period. Some others might enjoy going out on a sunny day to pick up the order inside safe selling points, and some might just prefer to stay in their car for curbside pickup. No matter how many shipping options you include, the delivery date, the shipping process, and the cost of each shipping option must be easy to see.

B. Sale & Marketing Strategy Update 

It was expected that a booming holiday shopping season is not going to happen in any scenario of 2020. However, the noticeable changes are not about the records on sales or customers, but the shifts in how businesses operate due to restricted travel, shipping capacity strains, unpredictable lockdowns, political unease, store closures, and heightened concerns over health and safety.

1. On-point Promotions 

a. Wrapping Services

It is a crazy year that makes people break down both financially and emotionally. However, the scent of holiday still urges shoppers to spend the best possible for their loved one. And one loving gift with holiday vibe wrapping would get people more into the season. Imagine how one simple service can contribute to the most satisfactory experience your customer can get.

gift wrapping

A gift wrapping service may contribute to the most satisfactory experience your customer can get.

Furthermore, most people think of gift wrapping in the context of birthday or Christmas presents, but you can go above and beyond. Cover the holiday season, of course; shoppers are extremely busy that time of year and they have a lot to wrap already. But also offer a year-round option for birthday presents. However, that’s the bare minimum, and you can take a step further and turn your gift wrapping into a powerful opportunity for customer service.

Imagine being one of the only online merchants to offer gift wrapping specific to that holiday! It’s possible to earn loyal customers based on the strength of that alone: you are telling the customer that they matter, and small things can mean a lot. Solidify your strategy by offering the holiday themes for a span of time around that holiday (or even year-round) to accommodate early or late shoppers.

b. Attractive Giveaways & Contests

The seasonal increase in customers raises the competition and the only thing better than a good deal is FREE. Christmas Giveaways allow your potential customers to get a free product (for themselves or their loved ones) and you still benefit. And with Christmas giveaway or contest, your business can boost traffic, engagement, social following and sales. Here are some successful ideas for you to stand out without needing to go through the entire season giving out discount offers that will barely help you break even.

  • The Body Shop’s #TBSwishlist Giveaway Contest

The Body Shop’s win your wish list campaign was a bit different from other hashtag contests. Instead of creating their own content, The Body Shop asked entrants to share a post by The Body Shop or a screenshot of The Body Shop merchandise, along with the #TBSwishlist and #country hashtags in order to enter. This campaign was a win-win for both The Body Shop and entrants. Entry was a lot easier for folks, since they don’t need to create their own content, and The Body Shop got some word of mouth marketing when people share their products. Plus, prizes were being given away in seven different countries; entrants simply included the country they are from as one of the hashtags.

A contest like The Body Shop’s is easy to set up. Just follow the directions for creating a hashtag contest. If you want to differentiate between entries from different countries, states or cities, ask entrants to include their country/state/city as one of the hashtags for their post. Be sure to post about your contest on Instagram and Twitter using different product images often, so people can have plenty of posts to share and screenshot.

  • Starbucks #GiveGood hashtag campaign

Every year, Starbucks designs holiday cups (I’m sure you’ve read about them a time or two!). An example of a clever hashtag campaign was Starbuck’s #GiveGood campaign. With the #GiveGood campaign, Starbucks encouraged people to “make the holiday cup their own” and Starbucks fans who wish to show off their designs could post them on social media with the #GiveGood hashtag. Starbucks then chose submissions to feature on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, their website and in other advertising.

2. Integrated Marketing

The holidays are here—meaning a busy time for brands. To help usher in the next round of shopping sprees, here is a list of recommendations to boost campaign performance of your social holiday.

a. Social Channel Ads

  • Broaden Your Audience

Facebook results tend to be more effective when the audience is broader. Conversely, limiting the audience restrains the number of reachable people to the lowest price, which will increase your cost per action. We recommend using an audience size of at least two million. This allows you to create and vary your audience.

  • Vary Your Content

Make sure your content is relevant to your audience, message, and objective. Include different formats in the same ad set to allow the Facebook algorithm to have more flexibility to give you the best results possible. Also, to avoid audience fatigue, refresh your ads every 10 days.

  • Bid Higher During the Holidays

Competition is fierce during the holiday season, leading to increased conversion rates and CPMs. To win auctions, you’ll need to bid higher. You’ll be rewarded with higher conversion rates and better performance.

b. Email & SMS

Sending promotional emails and SMS is a key and essential part of holiday campaigns. If it helps provide specific holiday sales, discounts, or special offers to customers and deliver personalized experience—do not wait until the last minute to get those promotional emails out.

By capturing the attention of your customers beforehand, with the help of automated email features, you can get the word out early about any holiday promotions that will increase conversions when you need them most. This also goes for email reminders about abandoned carts.

SMS provides a special opportunity to connect with your customers. Automated text messages bring a new level of personalization to virtual communication. Many brands leverage SMS marketing to execute pre-built sequences and conversations specific to cart abandonment, order and shipping confirmations, personalized rewards, limited-time promotions and more.

C. Fulfilment Management

Explosive sales presents us with numerous difficulties. How would you ensure that all orders arrive on time? How much time or manpower do you have to keep track of it all and handle shipping well? Make sure your fulfilment system runs smoothly, as delivery time correlates strongly with customer satisfaction and your credibility as a company.

1. Inventory Management

Managing inventory is hard enough at any time within a normal business cycle. It becomes increasingly challenging over the holiday season when most retailers experience major peaks in demand for many goods and services. To overcome obstacles in the high season, check out these tips for best practices.

a. Avoiding Stock-outs

The worst possible scenario during the holiday season is to run out of popular items while having surplus quantities of others. It’s also important to look at historical data for the same period as it will provide valuable insights into seasonal trends. External scanning can indicate potential demand for new products, styles and fad. Online inventory management tools will help to determine what will sell, how much stock is needed and what seasonal sales targets should be set.

Implementing automated, online inventory management software will provide you with real-time information that tracks your inventory and alerts you when stocks are running low. Advanced systems will automatically place orders to replenish stock when inventory drops below a specified level, enabling you to provide exceptional customer service by avoiding stock-outs in peak demand.

b. Optimize Warehouse Operations

The time to organize your warehouse is before the holiday season begins. A well-maintained warehouse is vital to managing the avalanche of orders you will receive during this busy sales period. Having a place for everything, and everything in its place will make a big difference in warehouse efficiency and staff productivity.

Streamline your processes so that orders can be efficiently picked, packed and shipped. By integrating stock control systems across all areas, from the sales floor or eCommerce sites through to warehouse shipping and dispatch, staff will all be working with the same real-time information.


A well-maintained warehouse is vital to managing the avalanche of orders you will receive during this busy sales period.

c. Supplier Relationships

Finally, but crucially, have mutually beneficial relationships in place with suppliers. Without them, none of the above will matter.

Who are your B2B partners? Have you negotiated expected order quantities and timelines? Ensure that you have an established reorder point and be clear on stock availability and delivery schedules. Work with suppliers to determine if there are adequate substitutes available in case products become unavailable.

2. Clear Return Policy

Do you have a robust returns policy? Has it been reviewed ahead of time to determine if improvements can be made? Returns can’t be avoided and are likely to increase over the holiday season as customers return unwanted gifts, exchange products or swap sizes. Having an efficient returns policy can simplify the process for both customers and employees.

Clearly communicate the returns policy to all staff making it easier for them to competently process returns, maintain customer service satisfaction and have the returned merchandise quickly back in stock for resale.

D. Customer Support Boost

Bringing in new customers with the holiday sales is only the beginning. Build up your customer base with excellent customer service. Customer service is catching up to price as the most important consideration for shoppers.

1. Thoroughly Trained Staff 

Ensure all employees are well-versed in whichever technology platform or system the company is using to create a more efficient shopping experience for customers. This could involve training on sales that originate on your app, social platforms, chat, call centers or in-store tablets. With COVID-19 expected to linger throughout the winter, it’s unlikely stores will see the same in-store crowds they have in years past. That makes contactless payments and curbside pickup all the more important, and training staff in proper implementation of these services is one of the greatest challenges for retailers this peak season.

On the effort to achieve best holiday season, the National Retail Federation, a trade group representing about 16,000 retailers, said that it had teamed up with the Crisis Prevention Institute, a company focused on reducing workplace violence, to help retail workers learn how to prevent and de-escalate shopper disputes that emerge from pandemic restrictions.

2. 24/7 Support

The holiday nightmare: a crashed website on Cyber Week. After months of hard work, your customers are disappointed and unable to make purchases. It’s often overlooked, but support for your business is make or break for success. Now is the time to make sure your eCommerce platform has 24/7 global support, premium security features, and industry-leading uptime.

3. Ask Customers for Feedback

Asking for feedback straight from the horse’s mouth can open up a goldmine of information and ideas. Not only can implementing strategies based on the results help you improve customer satisfaction levels and reduce churn rates, but it can also be a great way to generate new product and service ideas. 

On top of that, engaging with your customers and actively asking them to share their experience with your brand can help build and strengthen relationships (plus returning customers that have a good experience with you spend more year on year).

Before beginning collecting feedback from customers, you need to pinpoint why you’re seeking their input by answering these questions: What part of the customer experience would you like to improve? What’s your plan for the data you collect? Which customer feedback channel works best for your goals?

With clear goals you can carry out the feedback process with several methods that work the best for your business. This may include Customer feedback surveys, Email and customer contact forms, Usability tests, Exploratory customer interviews, Social media, On-site activity (via analytics) or Instant feedback from your website with widgets.

All retailers are ramping up their whole system to prepare for the biggest shopping season of the year. And it might be one best opportunities to test out the brand-new solution in the midst of the pandemic. Every holiday season is important but this one is going to be exceptional and greatly influence how businesses operate in the future.

What about your business? Ready to get back in the game? Boost your sales this holiday campaign with the Commerce Quickstart package from SmartOSC in just 6 weeks! Contact us now for a swift BOPIS implementation, or take a quick look at how we’ve helped other businesses succeed.

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