While the Easter holidays aren’t as big locally, or globally as Christmas or New Year’s, it is the first official holiday period after the end of year festivities, and the first time in a few months, where holiday interests and sales typically peak. With this (small) holiday season almost upon us, it’s the perfect time to think about how to prep your small business for this potentially busier time. In fact, it’s the perfect time to think about how to prep your business for any busy season. 

It’s the right time not only because you’re hoping to make more sales, but also because you can take advantage of the noticeable upward trend in e-commerce in South Africa. Online spending has accelerated significantly since lockdown started in 2020, according to a recent Mastercard study, with 68% of online consumers revealing that they are doing more online shopping

What’s even more interesting? The majority (63%) of the participants in this study revealed they are making a bigger effort to support small, local businesses. 

As consumers prepare to take some time off, and spend a little extra money, here are some tips to get your website ready for the seasonal increase.

1. Pick your holidays

Preparing for any holiday rush should start as early as you can manage, and the first step is to pick the holidays that fit your product or service and set them into your calendar. The big seasons can generally be taken advantage of by most businesses, but that doesn’t mean you should hop onto the bandwagon of every public holiday or season for the sake of it. Choose the seasons that are most relevant to you and your customer base. The big holidays in South Africa include:

  • 1 January –  New Year’s Day
  • 21 March – Human Rights Day
  • 22 March – Human Rights Day holiday
  • 2 April – Good Friday
  • 5 April – Family Day
  • 27 April – Freedom Day
  • 1 May – Workers Day
  • 16 June – Youth Day
  • 9 August – National Women’s Day
  • 24 September – Heritage Day
  • 16 December – Day of Reconciliation
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Day of Goodwill

Google Trends show that searches around events and products related to the big seasons occur year-on-year, and getting ahead of those peaks to promote your offering via your website will get you off to a good start.

2. Pick your products

Your website might have 50 products, it might have 100, but preparing your site for a peak season doesn’t mean promoting every product or service you offer. Avoid running the risk of bombarding your customers with promotions and selectively choose what you’d like to increase sales of during this time.  You can then move these products or services to be more visible on your homepage to catch the eye of browsers. 

There are a number of simple ways to highlight seasonal products or services on your home page:

  1. Interactive banners
  2. Seasonal colours
  3. Discounts or offers
  4. Pop ups

3. Boost your website content

If people are looking for your product or service during a particular season, don’t assume they’ll easily find you during their online searches just because you have a website. Seasonal content ramps up significantly around holiday dates and if you aren’t producing relevant content to add to the mix, your competitors will get to your customers before you do. Whether it’s a Christmas gift guide, Easter meal suggestions or local getaway ideas, producing seasonal articles that have search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind, will help those searching, find you a little bit easier. Don’t forget to promote your content on social media for extra traffic to your website.

4. Check your website infrastructure

Whether you’re expecting more online shoppers in the next holiday season or not, your website should be able to handle above average traffic and activity. The last thing you want is for your server to crash, page load times to be slow or the checkout process to work inefficiently. You want your customers to have the best experience shopping on your website as possible. There are a few checks you can make to ensure your site is working at its best:

  1. Ask your server provider to perform a load test to ensure your website can handle increased traffic.
  2. Check your site speed. Google’s PageSpeed Insights gives you an idea of how fast your desktop and mobile pages load, as well as suggestions for improvement.
  3. Ensure your cybersecurity is on point. Protecting customer data is extremely important, particularly in South Africa where consumers are still less trusting of payments on online platforms.

After these checks, If your website is not able to function at the standards you expect of it, it might be time to invest in a website builder that can take on your larger volume of traffic and transactions. If your e-Commerce store is ready for expansion, website development is your next priority in getting ready for  a busy season.

Easter might be just around the corner, but it’s never too late to start prepping your e-Commerce site for a busy season. Plus, you’ll be even more prepared for the upcoming holidays seasons later on in the year.