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Getting your WooCommerce settings right for the holiday rush

Written by Nicole Kohler on October 14, 2016 Blog, How to sell online.

As you head into the holiday season, it’s common to think big picture — as in, what are the big things you’re going to do to drive traffic, increase sales, and keep your customers happy?

But let’s slow it down and think, for a second or two, about the little things. The little details that go into each aspect of your store, marketing, and support are important, too. And if you go into this busy time of year without thinking about said details, you could run into trouble.

Some of those details include your WooCommerce store’s settings. It’s worth checking on these settings, from your store emails to your low stock threshold to the text in your site-wide notice, before things get really busy. Wait too long and a simple mistake could end up costing you a sale… or worse.

To help you prepare, we’ve put together a list of some of the WooCommerce settings you should check before the holidays begin. Read on to find out what to do, when to do it, and why.

Check on your inventory settings, from levels to alerts

One of the very first things you should check on prior to the surge in holiday sales is your inventory. You’ve probably already thought about how many products you need on hand, but you should also double-check how your store interacts with those products.

Log into WooCommerce and head to WooCommerce > Settings > Inventory. The first thing to check on this screen is whether or not you have email notifications for low stock and/or out of stock products enabled.

Review your stock notification settings, including the email address that notifications will be sent to and the threshold for "low."
Review your stock notification settings, including the email address that notifications will be sent to and the threshold for “low.”

If the email notifications are already enabled (which they are by default), you may want to double-check on the email address in the recipient field. Your store administrator’s email address will be used here during setup, but someone else might be managing inventory and product pages for you, right?

During the busy shopping season, and depending on how quickly your products sell, you may want to increase the low stock threshold. Consider bumping it up to give shoppers an earlier warning that inventory is getting low.

Finally, before you leave this page, you should decide if you want any out of stock items to remain on the store or be hidden. If you’re planning to restock products frequently during the holidays, you may want to keep them around, complete with a “coming back soon” message; if you sell one-offs or are slow to restock, hiding the pages might be the way to go.

You can hide out of stock products if you like -- your decision should depend on whether or not those items will be returning soon.
You can hide out of stock products if you like — your decision should depend on whether or not those items will be returning soon.

Review your checkout settings in detail

Once you’ve finished looking over your inventory settings, we recommend moving on to the Checkout tab (look to the right of Products, where you clicked before choosing Inventory).

One of the first things to think about: guest checkout. If you don’t already use guest checkout, decide if you want to enable it temporarily (since requiring signups can cause some to abandon their cart). Or, if you do have guest checkout enabled, you might actually want to disable it.

Think carefully before checking this box.
Think carefully before checking (or unchecking) this box.

This decision depends on your store and what you already know about your customers. It also depends on your need for customer accounts — if they’re required for subscriptions or memberships, it might not make sense to allow guests. But if you only want account information for marketing purposes, you might benefit from the higher sales that a no-login checkout flow brings.

On this same screen, take a look at your checkout settings for coupons. If you’re going to be offering coupon codes this year, the first box should be checked — otherwise those codes won’t have anywhere to go.

The only exception being if youre using URL Coupons, which will apply codes to orders without the need for a coupon box.
Checking that first option will allow the coupon box to display on the shopping cart and during checkout.

Finally, there’s an option on this page to offer a secure checkout with SSL. This is something that goes beyond the scope of this post — you should really have your store security and SSL certificate sorted out long before the holiday season. If you need a refresher, take a look at this post on why you need SSL for your store.

Take a look at your emails to customers

Next, head into the Emails tab and double-check the list of messages. These emails are set up to automatically send to yourself, members of your team, or your customers upon completion of an order, when an order ships, if a payment is refunded, etc.

If you need to change the recipients of any of these emails, or enable/disable them, click the icon on the right side to change its settings.

Check on the status of your store emails, make sure the recipients are correct, and dig into customization and copy before your store gets too busy.
Check on the status of your store emails, make sure the recipients are correct, and dig into customization and copy before your store gets too busy.

If you enable any emails during the holidays that you don’t normally use, make sure all your emails use the same design and have consistent messaging. Customers will be confused if they get a fully customized order receipt followed by a plain-text “your order has shipped” message.

If you’ve never customized your email design to match your store, now is a good time to get this done. We recommend the WooCommerce Email Customizer extension to get a head start on this process.

In a matter of seconds I was able to make my own WooCommerce emails pink, bump up the font size, and increase the overall width.
With the Email Customizer extension I was able to make my own WooCommerce emails pink, bump up the font size, and increase the overall width.

Remember that these transactional emails will send to customers automatically, so it’s preferable to get their settings right now instead of halfway through the holiday season.

Think about on-site messaging, including a store-wide notice

As we mentioned in our post on extensions for holiday promotions, it doesn’t matter what you do with your store unless you get the word out about it. That’s why you should check on your on-site messaging before any sales or holiday events begin.

Head back to the General tab and scroll down until you see the option to enable a site-wide message. If you’re not already using this option, start now — it gives you a fast way to tell customers about:

  • Holiday shipping cutoffs (i.e. “order by December 20th to get it for Christmas!”)
  • Sales, discounts, or other special offers
  • Deadlines for redeeming coupons or using points, rewards, etc.
  • Unexpected delays or issues (like inclement weather slowing down a specific carrier’s shipments)
Use this notice to quickly tell customers what's going on in your store. (They can always dismiss it after they've read it.)
Use this notice to quickly tell customers what’s going on in your store. (They can always dismiss it after they’ve read it.)

If you want further messaging in your store, there are a variety of other options you can try. One example: the Cart Notices extension allows you to display in-cart messaging to shoppers based on how close they are to earning free shipping, whether or not they’re eligible (or almost eligible) for a discount, and so on.

Cart Notices appear in a shopper’s cart (as the name suggests) and can be customized in many ways to meet your needs.

You could also try an extension like JustUno to create temporary pop-up overlays on your homepage advertising your biggest sales (say, on Black Friday or Boxing Day). Some shoppers find pop-ups really annoying, but if you’re giving them a discount and not demanding their email address, they might give you a pass. 🙂

Finally, double-check your payment and shipping settings

Your store’s payment gateway, accepted payment methods, and enabled shipping methods seem like a big detail — that is, something you’d have trouble missing during the pre-holiday season — but it’s still a good idea to double-check all these settings before the customers start rushing in.

Here’s what we recommend doing and reviewing just to be safe:

  • Test your payment gateway — make sure it’s properly set up, functioning, and accepting payments from all areas you currently service
  • Review your shipping settings in detail to be sure you have added all the countries you can and want to ship products to
  • Create a few test orders to be certain that the shipping costs are being calculated and applied correctly by item, delivery location, weight, etc.
  • If you have any digital products, be sure they are properly set up, and that all the correct files are uploaded — no one likes paying for a broken link 😉

Get the little details right and your “big picture” will be one of a great success

That’s our list! From checkout settings to messaging, these are the WooCommerce settings we recommend reviewing before you get really busy with sales, shipments, and the general rush that this time of year brings.

Have any questions for us about what settings you should be checking in your WooCommerce store this holiday season? Or any recommendations of your own to share with your fellow store owners? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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5 Responses

  1. Tom
    October 17, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

    Great tutorial Nicole; I’ve been looking for something like this.

    • Nicole Kohler
      October 19, 2016 at 5:07 am #

      Glad to hear we could help you out, Tom 🙂

  2. Stanley Mathew
    October 21, 2016 at 11:58 pm #

    Excellent write-up. This is my first time to use Woocommerce and this post covers almost everything I wanted. Just bought a theme from themeforest, just to realise that “Woocommerce is certainly going place”. You have covered almost everything I needed. Excellent

  3. savani chetan
    October 27, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    thanks for share with us..nice post

  4. yepi 99
    November 2, 2016 at 8:49 am #

    It’s awesome in support oof me to have a site, which is beneficial in favor of my know-how.

    thanks admin

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