5 Ecommerce Mistakes to Avoid During the Holiday Season

The latter part of the year can bring in tons of business, so don't drop the ball by committing one of these errors.

learn more about Amit Kumar

By Amit Kumar • Dec 12, 2015 Originally published Oct 10, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I've worked with small-business owners for many years, and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, especially during the holiday season.

Related: 5 Ways Your Small Businesses Can Topple Amazon This Holiday Season

I've seen online merchants capitalize on holiday shopping, but I've also seen critical errors that can impact transactions and interrupt orders. With the holiday season fast approaching, here are the top five ecommerce mistakes to avoid this season:

1. Advertising and marketing is the same.

Small-business owners need to adjust their ad spend and marketing strategies for the holidays to stay competitive. If you don't normally do pay-per-click ads, consider running them for the holidays. If you normally do them, make sure your spend is high enough to compete. Keep in mind, your competitors are spending more, too.

On the marketing side, pre-schedule your emails and social-media strategy as much as possible. You'll likely be sending a higher rate of emails than normal, especially before and during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to compete with the high traffic of marketing emails to consumers during this period.

2. Too many steps in the checkout.

During the holidays, it's important to reduce the number of things shoppers need to agree to, fill in and read during checkout. Reprioritize wisely. You may want to disable items such as registration if your site has single sales for the holiday and remove bulky advertising for points programs, ads, banners for other sites and anything else that takes real estate that isn't specifically related to holiday sales.

Related: 3 Ways to Be More Savvy About Free Shipping

3. Website updates in November.

Don't make major updates or changes to your store after mid-November. This includes coding updates, new features, domain-name system changes or anything that can affect site availability and speed. Any changes should be in place and tested well in advance of Black Friday.

4. Lack of curation.

Harried shoppers need guidance. It's important to direct your customers to what they should be buying on the site. Curate gift guides and staff picks to help your customers find what they need. You can also create a holiday-specific Q&A page to handle common customer questions so they don't have to ask.

5. Unclear shipping dates and return policy.

If customers don't think gifts will arrive on time, they'll abandon their shopping carts. Set a delivery cutoff date for the holidays, and reinforce it on your site and through marketing emails.

It's also important to have a clear return policy and give people more time than normal to make returns or exchanges during the holidays. Your customers will feel more secure with their purchase, and your team will have more time to satisfy customer needs. You can call out your extended return policy on item pages during the holiday season.

By avoiding these critical errors, you can have a happy and profitable holiday season. Cheers to you!

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5 Ecommerce Mistakes to Avoid During the Holiday Season

Related: 5 Common Ecommerce Returns Mistakes

Amit Kumar

Head of Yahoo Small Business

Amit Kumar is the head of Yahoo Small Business where he builds cross-functional teams and manages the development of new products. The small-business platform has supported over $2.5 billion in transactions annually, and more than 150,000 orders per hour. Kumar joined Yahoo in August 2013 following the acquisition of Lexity, an ecommerce app platform (now called Yahoo Commerce Central).

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