Everyone needs a holiday at some point, even if that just means taking a break from working to clear your head and enjoy yourself with friends and family for a couple of days. Equally, sometimes life throws things at us, like illness, funerals, family issues or other essential events where the management of your online shop will need to temporarily take the proverbial back seat.
It’s also important to remember that having a break is good for you and your business – sometimes a breather of a week or more away from your desk can inspire new ideas and new ways of doing things. It’s a good idea to replenish your personal energy so that when you return after your break, you have reinvigorated your enthusiasm for your online shop and your brand that will keep you going for a good, long while.
Once you’ve decided that you definitely need a holiday and when you want to take that break, your next step is planning how you plan to manage your online shop whilst you’re away.
If you’re going on holiday don’t hide everything behind a password wall
- This can negatively affect your search engine rankings if bots can’t access your online shop;
- For your loyal repeat customers, this can be very inconvenient;
- For potential new customers who have just discovered your online shop, this can be frustrating for them and will encourage them to look elsewhere to make their purchase.
If you don’t have a staff of your own or someone that can help you out by processing orders in your absence, that leaves you with 2 choices. You can:
- Take orders whilst you’re away;
- Or Pause orders until you return.
If you take orders whilst you’re away:
- You may end up with a huge mountain of orders to process when you get back
- Customers may get frustrated with having to wait a bit longer for their orders to arrive.
- You’re still making sales whilst on the beach somewhere
- There’s minimal disruption for your customers – make sure you adjust the delivery times within the settings of your online shop to accommodate the change your holiday will create.
If you Pause orders until you return – Remove Add To Cart button:
- This could put new, potential customers off shopping with you in the first place
- You risk regular customers going to competitors if they desperately need a specific product
- Customers don’t have to wait longer to receive their orders
- You won’t return to lots of orders needing to be fulfilled and emails that need answering
Of course, being away for a while may potentially cause complaints, but on the whole, if you’re honest with your customers and communicate the break in enough places on your online shop, that should reduce the chances of customers being irritated. Ensure that any indication of your holiday is clearly highlighted on your online shop and social media around a week before the holiday itself, although for some industries, you may want to do this a fortnight before instead, especially if your online shop sells products which are made or customised to suit on the premises.
Make sure that you:
- Make sure that your temporary holiday status is listed in multiple places on your online shop: Homepage, Cart Page
- Delivery methods – you may need to amend the settings here to incorporate the holiday period.
- Checkout Flow – It might also be worth adding a checkbox to your checkout flow for customers to tick to confirm that they understand you’re on your jollies and won’t return until a specific date.
On your socials
If you have a blog attached to your online shop that you update regularly, write a post letting your readers and customers know when the holiday is going to happen and the reason for the holiday. The more honest you are, the more relatable this content will be, but equally, don’t feel like it has to be a ‘sob story’ if your reason for the break is something quite serious. Alternatively, if you really are going on your jollies for a bit, let them know where you’re off to and ask if anyone’s visited before and whether they have recommendations for places you should visit whilst you’re there.
Make sure you answer the two most important questions which are a) when the holiday will be with exact dates and b) what this break will mean for them in terms of service. How much longer will they need to wait for the orders to arrive?
When you’ve finished this blog post, you can link to this internally on your online shop so visitors wishing to know more about the break have a central place to read about it. The same idea applies to your scheduled social media posts and email marketing too. If you don’t have a blog, it would probably be a good idea to create this content on a single webpage on your online shop so you still have a central point for people to refer to for more information if they need it.
Social media posts
Before you go away, it’s a good idea to schedule some social media posts before you go. This ensures that your social media profiles will not become stale for the duration of your holiday and you can make a joke of it by letting customers know that each post was previously scheduled, and talk about what you’d imagined you’d be doing right now on your holiday. With a bit of imagination and some stock images from the likes of Pixabay and Unsplash, you could end up telling a story about your ‘fantasy’ holiday through the medium of social media posts in your own absence.
If you regularly send out email newsletters to your customers, remind them in the newsletter before your holiday that you’ll be away, and make sure that you link to the blog post or webpage you’ve created about your holiday for customers who require further information.
This doesn’t need to be the focal point of the newsletter, but do make sure it is detailed there so your more loyal customers have got an advance warning of the small changes that will occur whilst you’re away.
Now you’ve planned your online shop, blog and social media content, the final step is of course to actually go on holiday. In between your holiday starting and finishing, be sure not to respond to any emails or social media posts if you have previously specified that you will not be going to, otherwise this can open the floodgates for more questions and queries than you originally planned to deal with.
Whilst you’re away from your online shop for whatever reason, don’t be tempted to check in and instead aim to mentally ‘check out’ to make sure you can truly energise yourself in this time away. There’s nothing wrong with making the odd note on your phone for something you intend to do when you get home, but make sure that you actually do have a break – for the benefit of yourself and your business too.
Have a good time on your holiday, and I’ll be back again soon so in the meantime if you have any questions for me, pop them in an email to [email protected].