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The Shopify Store Owner’s Holiday Survival Guide

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Read Time: 15 min

In this guide we’re going to discuss all the strategies, tips, and apps that will help you and your Shopify store make the most of the coming holiday season.

’tis the Season

It’s that time of year again. The time where you can make or break your bottom line. The time where customers are coming in from everywhere, looking for the best gifts for the people on their lists (and usually a little something for themselves too): the holidays!

It all starts with Black Friday (which falls on November 27th this year), officially goes right through until Christmas, and if you ask me, can last even longer than that. But only if you plan ahead for it properly.

That’s what I’m here for! To help you make sure your store is set up for the best holidays you’ve ever had. With a little bit of planning, you’ll be getting more traffic, be set up to convert more shoppers into buyers, get people back to your site over and over, and extend the holiday buzz to keep sales up long after the major dates have passed.

So let’s get started.

Optimizing Your Store

Attracting shoppers to your store in the first place is a huge topic, and beyond the scope of this article. But even once you’re pulling in visitors your work doesn’t stop there. What are you going to do with all that traffic when it arrives? Don’t let your visitors be window shoppers, make sure you’re set up to get as many people buying as possible.


There are so many things that go into helping someone make the necessary clicks to go from a shopper to a customer, but it all starts with the flow and design of your store. If shoppers can’t figure out how to get from point A to point B, or if they don’t see the information they’re looking for when they need it, they’re going to start moving towards the little “x” in the corner pretty quickly.

So let’s get your store set up to give visitors what they want, when they want it.

“Not all traffic is equal, and not all traffic should be going to your homepage!”

For example, let’s say you have an ad going that is targeting people looking for boys’ shoes. Instead of sending them to the home page, set it up so they go directly to your collection page for boys’ shoes.

Even better than that, set up a customized landing page where you can talk about what sets your shoes, service, or prices apart from everyone else, and then list all your top sellers below that. Show them exactly what they want!

Want to learn more about using landing pages (and why you really should be)? Check out what Unbounce have to say on the matter: All About Landing Pages

Note: You don’t need to use special software to so this. Yes it makes it easier, but you can create your own landing pages right in Shopify by setting up a page, and designing it in whatever way makes sense for the link they are clicking to get there.


This leads us nicely into design! So you have your pages set up, and people are being sent to the perfect ones to find what they’re looking for. Now make sure when they get there, the info they want is easy to find.

I want to focus on one thing that you could easily do before the holidays. Consider designing your site and copy for someone who is lazy, crazy, and drunk. You can thank Kai Davis for that awesome line.

This isn’t to say your customers are these things, but by designing with this in mind, you’re making sure that it’s as easy as possible to get your points across and get people to the checkout.

We’ve already covered the lazy aspect. Put the info visitors want right in front of them, in the order they want it. You’re aiming for the least number of clicks to go from arriving on your site to purchase.

53 put their product front and centre, as soon as you land on their Shopify store

For the crazy part, make everything all about them. What do they want, what kind of special treatment can you give them, how can you make them feel like the most important people in the world?

So that leaves the last part, designing for someone who is drunk!

Before you run off and start testing by knocking back the tequila, I have a cool little trick to help you with this. Squint your eyes until your pages appear blurry. You’ll know your design is spot on if you can still navigate from start to finish without being able to see everything clearly.

This means clear call to actions, getting rid of anything distracting that could possibly side track somebody, and using highlight colours to draw people’s attention to the important actions they should be taking. How did your site do? If it was confusing and you had a hard time finding your way around, it could be happening to your customers too.

Related Resources

  • Want someone to actually get drunk and review your site? Check out:
  • If you’re interested in getting some help with your design, Envato Market has a great collection of Shopify themes to help save you time.

Pricing and Sales

People are getting to the right pages, the pages are easy to read and it’s clear what a visitor should be doing next, and things are looking good so far. Let’s keep it up by giving them some incentives to go through with purchasing.

This starts with knowing your pricing inside and out. Make sure you know what your competitors are doing, making sure you’re getting the best price possible on your inventory, and knowing how much your customers will pay for what you’re selling.

Most of you will already have this down, which means you’re ready for the age old holiday tradition. The sale.

When all else fails, a store wide sale can be a great way to convince people to complete their purchases since everyone is always looking for a deal. But we’re going to get a little more creative than that.

Here are three sale ideas you can try this year.

1. Spend This, Save That

This is a twist on a classic. Instead of simply offering everyone a % off your entire store just for showing up, give them a bit of incentive to add a few extras to their cart to get that discount.

For example, you could set it up so that if you spend $100, you get 10% off, $250 you get 20% and over $500 you get 25%. This way when people are close to those totals, they’ll go looking for that stocking stuffer, or gifts for a few more people on their lists to get the better prices.

2. Category by Category Sale

I love this approach, because it not only lets you increase your conversions by putting a time limit on things, it also works to bring traffic back to your site over and over again.

With this one, you’ll choose different categories in your store, and put them on sale at different times. You might have women’s dresses on sale on Monday, men’s shoes on Tuesday, women’s shoes on Wednesday and so on. You could even make it more interesting by picking certain products to be available for only a limited number of hours, making people come back for those specific things when they’ll be on for the best price.

3. Going, Going, Gone

This one is a different way to use time to your advantage. Here, you’ll be setting up discounts to run at different times of the day, but instead of the focus being on different categories, it is focused on the time zones.

Use this one to drive traffic to your store at slower times, and give visitors an incentive to buy earlier rather than later. For example, have 40% off starting at midnight, 30% at 6am, 25% at 8am, and 20% the rest of the day.

If you want to go even further, combine these last two, and offer a special product at the same time as you have the discounted time zones. Do what’s necessary to keep people coming back to your store.

Related Resources

Upsells, Add-ons, and Gifts

After you have your pricing and sales figured out, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your store for the holidays. Here are three easy actions you can take:

1. The Upsell

You have lots of great products in your store, and you probably have a lot that go well together too! If you know people tend to buy products together, or they complement each other in some way, that makes a perfect candidate for the upsell.

This is “would you like fries with that” applied to your online store. When someone adds the first product, you can give them an offer to buy the second product, and perhaps add special pricing to sweeten the deal. As a bonus, you can even decide when to make the offer; when they add it to the cart, when they get to their cart, or even when they go to checkout.

This is a great way to help customers find more suitable products, and add to your average order size at the same time.

Take a look at plugins for upselling in the Shopify app store.

2. The Add-on

You might already be doing this, but if you’re not, I can guarantee you’re missing out on way more money than you might think.

Gift wrapping.

You wouldn’t believe how many people take advantage of this option when it’s available, and how often having it as an option is the deciding factor to make the purchase. Plus, it’s really easy to do!

You can either add it as an option on your products that they can select before they add the item to their cart, or you can create a gift wrapping product and use it in an upsell like the last tip. Whichever way you do it, your customers will love you for it, and you’ll be seeing lots of people checking out with gift wrapping in their cart.

Take a look at plugins for product options in the Shopify app store.

3. The Gift

If there’s one thing that has defined this year in eCommerce, it has to be the subscription model. Almost everyone is looking for ways to include it in their store, and with a bit of creativity, most have been able to find a way.

Subscriptions are great because they mean you’ll start every month having a good idea of how much money you’ll be bringing in, and it keeps your customers coming back again and again.

So, what if we take it to the next level and add this into your holiday offering?

Instead of only allowing someone to sign up to become a subscriber themselves, give them the ability to gift it to their friends and family as well! With a prepaid subscription, it lets everyone get in on the fun, and adds more potential recurring revenue to your store if they decide to keep the subscription after the prepaid time is up.

Take a look at plugins for recurring orders in the Shopify app store.

Plugging the Bucket

“Plugging the bucket” is the term we use to talk about setting things up to make sure people who leave your site aren’t gone forever, and that we do our best to get them to come back to the store.

There are quite a few ways to do this, but I’ve narrowed it down to three that are easy to get set up and running quickly.

1. Retargeting

By adding a short piece of code to your Shopify store, services like Adroll are able to build a list of people who have visited. You can then advertise to this list in a variety of ways. You can create retargeting ads for Facebook and web banners from right inside Adroll. These will then start showing to anyone who has visited your store. Even better, if you have the time, you can create specific ads to show based on which pages they visited.


As with all paid advertising, you’ll want to keep a close eye on it to make sure the ads are performing well, and make changes as needed. Keep testing, and you’ll end up with some killer ads that will bring people back to finish their shopping at your store.

2. Cart Abandonment

Another great way to get people coming back to complete their purchase is with a cart abandonment strategy. Depending on the level of complexity and options you want, you have a few options.

Shopify has their own built in version, but it’s only available with professional plans and higher. If you don’t have that level of plan, don’t worry! There’s also Abandon Aid that covers all the essentials without getting too complicated.

Abandon AidAbandon AidAbandon Aid
Abandon Aid UI

By having this installed and set up, you’ll be able to send emails to people who get part way through your checkout, but don’t actually complete their order. You can send a simple reminder email, or you can go one step further and offer them an incentive to complete their order. Maybe a coupon code for free shipping, a % off, or free gift wrapping.

3. Exit Offers

Much like cart abandonment, exit offers give people a reason to complete their purchase. However, instead of a follow up email after they’ve left the cart, exit offers try to get proactive about the problem.

By adding an exit offers app like Sticky Exit Offers, you’ll be able to set up an offer than will display as someone is going to close out of the cart, or exit your store. 

Sticky Exit OffersSticky Exit OffersSticky Exit Offers
Sticky Exit Offers

By offering some of the same things as above, you’re giving people that extra nudge in the right direction.

After the Holidays

After surviving the holidays, most people are just happy it’s over and that they made it through with good numbers. That’s one way to celebrate a successful busy season, but why not celebrate by taking advantage of that huge spike you just had?

Here are three more ways to keep that success rolling after the big rush is over.

1. Email Campaigns

Now that you have plenty of orders in the bank, that means you have all the email addresses that go along with them. Don’t let those sit there and collect dust, those customers would love to hear from you, as long as you’re sending them valuable emails.

The trick is to create a conversation, and send them emails that they’d love to open, not just “buy this” emails. Talk to them about cool ways to use your products, highlight customer stories, pictures, or anything else they’re doing with your products.

If you do this enough, and get people opening your emails on a regular basis, then when you do send them an email about a big sale, or a new release you have, they’ll be way more inclined to come and check it out.

If you’re looking for an app to integrate your emails with your store, I can’t recommend the Mailchimp app enough.

Mailchimp appMailchimp appMailchimp app
Creating targeted segments with the Mailchimp app

2. Receiptful

This little app just keeps giving and giving. It transforms your boring, everyday order confirmations into additional marketing opportunities. Now, instead of having customers open the confirmation, and immediately file it away, you can make it even more valuable to open your emails.

With Receiptful, you can customize and style your confirmation emails to match your brand, and be more visually appealing than a typical text only email.


On top of this, you can make smart recommendations about other products they might like from your store, give them coupon codes for future orders, and send follow up emails after their purchase to make sure everything is going well.

3. Referral Candy

The last tool I’m going to leave you with is one of my favourite referral program apps, Referral Candy. This is a simple concept that has been around forever, but one that a lot of stores might have forgotten about.

With this app, you can create a referral program that lets your customers recommend your products to their friends, and gives them a small commission every time someone buys something based on their recommendation.

Referral CandyReferral CandyReferral Candy
Referral Candy

I’m sure you can already see how this could pay for itself in no time at all. It’s a great way to expand your customer base, all while showing your customers how much you value their business.

4. Fishbowl Prizes

One last Shopify app to help you make the most out of extra holiday traffic is Fishbowl Prizes. With this app, you’ll be able to run a prize giveaway on your website where customers enter their email to win. It’s an awesome (and easy) way to build your list of potential customers.

Fishbowl PrizesFishbowl PrizesFishbowl Prizes
Fishbowl Prizes

On top of your traffic, giveaways are also displayed in the Fishbowl Prizes Marketplace, where you’ll get entries from people coming in and browsing hundreds of other giveaways.

Good Luck!

Now that you’re armed with all these quick tips, techniques, and apps for the holidays and beyond, get started and make your game plan! Which ones are you going to use in your store this year?

Whatever you decide to do, I’m wishing you all the best of luck, and hopefully this will be your best holiday season ever!

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