It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is here. Businesses are decking the halls for an incredibly busy time of year. The National Retail Federation predicts a 4.1% increase in total retail spending vs. last year. And expects November and December 2014 online retail sales will top $100 billion for the first time!

In fact, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says 43% of holiday gift spending will take place online, up from 42% in 2013. PWC says 41% of shoppers will increase how much they spend online this season.

“With the day-to-day hustle of running your ecommerce business, it’s easy to forget the approaching holidays,” says marketer Richard Lazazzera for the Shopify Blog. “How many times has a holiday come, only for you to realize that you never prepared a promotion for it? If you want to make 2014 your best year yet as an online retailer, then you need to be prepared and plan ahead.”

So, we’ve got three ways to help you wrap up some of this year’s holiday sales for your business.

1. Create strong incentives to buy
A potential customer leaving a website without taking any action is the norm rather than the exception. According to the Baymard Institute, an average of 68.06% of web users will leave a website without completing their purchases.

While consumers leave a website without purchasing or taking action for for a variety of reasons, according to Statistica, the top three ‘risk factors’ are clear: People drop out of a website’s conversion funnel when they’re presented with unexpected costs,  are in a ‘browsing’ mindset, or are able to find a better price elsewhere.

Over the holidays, competition for your website audience’s business is even more cutthroat. With competitors flooding the web with unbeatable deals, customers will have a strong incentive to leave your website.

To have a leg up, make a commitment to outsmart the noise with compelling promotional codes, loyalty program offers and timed deals. Pay attention to what your competitors are releasing. Beat the numbers game by offering something more.

2. Plan your editorial calendar
Some consumers finished their holiday shopping last February. Rest assured, however, there will be plenty of customers who are scrambling – at the last minute – to find gift ideas.

That’s where content comes in.

Buying guides, recommended products and gift ideas will give your exhausted, time-strapped website audience the creative inspiration that they need to keep shopping. By November, people will be in the mindset of ‘just getting it done,’ but they won’t be willing to sacrifice the personal touch of a great gift.

“It’s a great task to do during any downtime you have now because as the holiday season gets closer, any downtime you’ve had will disappear in a snap, and you’ll be glad you thought ahead,” said Glen Stansberry, founder of publishing website Gentlemint in an American Express OPEN Forum.

For inspiration, check out ModCloth’s 2013 holiday gift guide, which breaks down thoughtful holiday gift ideas by personality type and interest:

3. Provide options for ultra procrastinators
Some people will wait until the very, very last minute to finish their shopping. One of the most valuable ways that your business can stand out from the competition is to offer an e-gift card – a shopping option that helps procrastinators get their shopping done without forcing them to set foot in a store.

Feature these e-gift cards prominently on your site’s homepage, in your email marketing, and across your social media. Be a resource to your last-minute shoppers who will, without a doubt, be scrambling. check: Great Idea! End of Month Email Wrap Up

Final thoughts
Start thinking ahead. As you’re planning for the 2014 holiday season, you’re in a strong position to learn and gather insights for next year. The more you learn, the more empowered you’ll be to successful in driving sales this year – and in 2015, which, by the way, is just around the corner.

Visit our Everything Holiday site for more helpful holiday marketing resources, and you can do all your email marketing for free with VerticalResponse!

This post contributed by Ritika Puri, an entrepreneur, marketing consultant and startup advisor. In the past she ran a marketing team at a large ad tech company, where she built seven-figure revenue streams and analytics programs from the ground up. Ritika writes for Forbes, The Next Web, Business Insider and Entrepreneur.

© 2014 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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