Will You Be Ready for the Holidays? SAP Wants to Help

As the holiday shopping season approaches (I guess the day after or around Thanksgiving) there’s going to be 3 kinds of retailers.
1. Those retailers who are ready to sell online
2. Those retailers who are trying to sell online but are not fully ready
3. Those retailers who wish they were selling something online but are selling nothing
Which one are you?
There are so many solutions for small-medium businesses to sell online. Yahoo, Microsoft Office Live, NetSuite, Google, Paypal, Intuit Quickbooks and dozens of other solutions. SAP, which caters to larger, small businesses has 10 tips to help retails prepare their online retail operations for the Holiday buying crowd.
Lisa Schneegans, a retail technology consultant and e-Commerce expert with SAP, has developed a valuable ten-point checklist for small businesses to follow when venturing into e-commerce. Schneegans argues that increased levels of globalization and technological economies of scale make retail e-commerce initiatives more viable and successful than ever before, warning retailers that are late to adapt risk losing considerable revenue gains and the ability to establish a strong channel presence.
Ten Ways to Optimize Your Web Site for the Holiday Boom
1. Test your site early and often. Plan ahead to make sure your site can handle the holiday shopping frenzy.
2. Test the integrity of your content. Check for misspelled words, broken links, busted pictures, etc. A nonprofessional appearance may lead to a bad customer experience.
3. Make sure images load quickly. A slow-loading page may simply drive customers to click on to the next site. You want to minimize page download time.
4. Make sure you’re up to snuff on patches. Install, verify, test and lock down all patches and upgrades now, before the season gets too busy.
5. “Load test” your site. You’re expecting (or at least hoping for) a rush of customers. So it’s a good idea to determine how much traffic your Web site can support.
6. Create sample transactions. These can simulate expected customer traffic and Web transactions. By running “synthetic” transactions periodically – say, every five to 15 minutes – you know, before your customers do, if there is a problem.
7. Check the performance of your network provider. You can do this by looking at a site that is similar to yours in your area but connected to another network. In a fiercely competitive business, every second matters.
8. Add cross-sell and up-sell opportunities throughout your site. This means, for example, suggesting table linens on the dinnerware, silverware and glassware pages. Offer “Top Gift Suggestions” or “Best-Sellers” to improve sales and drive “impulse” purchase opportunities.
9. Make it easy to find and contact customer service in the form of a real person. Providing an easy-to-find phone number on the site helps online shoppers feel more secure. Clearly state your company’s return policy. Remind customers of the last day it’s possible to order and receive a product in time for Christmas.
10. Make your search function more effective. Your search function should accommodate common misspellings by returning similarly spelled items or your site’s most popular search terms.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook