A woman shipping manager uses a tablet to prepare an item for shipment. Behind her is a man who is selecting an item from inventory to put in the shipment.
While Cyber Monday doesn't occur until November 27, your preparation efforts should begin months in advance, ideally at the end of summer. — Getty Images/Alistair Berg

Cyber Monday is a small business owner’s best chance to obtain new customers and see an increase in revenue. The 2022 holiday reached a record of $11.3 billion in sales. Businesses that don’t prepare their e-commerce website for the increased traffic Cyber Monday brings could face trouble when trying to capitalize on the holiday rush.

Here are six ways to prepare your website for Cyber Monday traffic.

[Read More: A Guide to Adding E-Commerce to Your Brick-and-Mortar Business]

Use a reliable hosting provider

When customers visit your website, they anticipate fast and seamless loading. A slow-loading website — often a sign of a subpar hosting provider responsible for your website's files, plug-ins, and security — can discourage customers and drive them to explore alternative options. Even worse, an unfit host can go down during times of increased traffic, preventing customers from making purchases and thereby disrupting your business’s traffic and leading to a loss in revenue.

Keep customers satisfied with your website by using a trusted e-commerce hosting provider suited to your business’s specific needs and budget. It should offer enhanced security features, including transport layer security, as well as payment processing services, database support, and shopping cart software, among other features.

[Read More: How to Choose the Best E-Commerce Platform for Your Business]

Optimize your checkout process

E-commerce customers don’t want to jump through hoops to complete their purchases. Therefore, a smooth and easy-to-follow checkout is crucial for businesses to maintain consumers’ attention and increase conversion rates.

Optimize the checkout process by confirming your checkout page is secure, and include a progress indicator so consumers understand where they are in the process. A lengthy checkout process can scare away customers and reduce satisfaction. Also, ensure a smooth purchasing experience by accommodating various payment methods.

The earlier you start promoting your Cyber Monday sales, the more eyes you can get on your website.

Check your plug-ins

For small businesses, employing plug-ins can enhance the user experience by broadening a website's capabilities and introducing added functionalities. However, too many of them — or using them improperly — can lead to a bulky and bloated website, which can negatively affect security and loading times.

Review your active plug-ins and determine which ones you can remove — this checkup should include any that slow down your website or generate an abundance of database queries, styles, or scripts. Then update the remaining plug-ins to ensure they are optimized for your website. An out-of-date plug-in can slow it down.

Stock up on inventory

With increased traffic comes a greater likelihood of sales — therefore, it’s important that you stock up on inventory so customers aren’t hit with a disheartening out-of-stock notification when they go to make a purchase. To avoid this issue — and ensure you earn the most revenue during the shopping holiday — review your previous year’s sales trends to uncover your best-selling items during last year’s holiday, then use these insights to guide your stocking decisions.

However, don’t rely solely on historical data. Consider emerging market trends and shifts in consumer behavior that have occurred over the past year, as these could impact which products become this season's top sellers.

Start promoting early

Though Cyber Monday occurs in late November, preparing for the holiday should start months in advance, ideally around the end of summer, or earlier. Begin promotional efforts as early as possible by establishing a marketing plan, creating advertising content, fine-tuning your website, and revising policies as needed.

The earlier you start promoting your Cyber Monday sales, the more eyes you can get on your website. Use this time to acquire new customers and fine-tune your outreach strategies, such as establishing a newsletter or getting your business listed on online shopping websites like Google Shopping.

[Read More: 'Clicks Are Currency:' How E-Commerce Businesses Can Thrive in the Digital-First World]

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Businesses that don’t offer mobile-friendly options to customers are losing out on a major growing market, as 42% of purchases were made from mobile devices during the 2022 Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday season. Customers want to make purchases with ease, especially from their mobile devices. When they’re unable to do so because a website isn’t mobile-friendly, they are more likely to abandon their carts and shop with competitors.

Start by testing your user experience to ensure your website can handle mobile visitors. Create a compact view of your website with appropriately sized font and button sizes, and ensure you enable mobile payments. Then optimize your page load times, ensure a smooth and responsive design, and adjust the scale of pop-ups, all of which can deter customers if ignored.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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