WooCommerce Happiness Engineers’ Holiday Checklist

Written by Zach Wiesman on October 25, 2018 Blog, Holiday ideas.

In all the productivity and preparation for the holiday season, some important elements of your business can be overlooked. Over in WooCommerce.com Happiness, we identified four focal areas — two physical, two technical — that can sometimes cause a few bumps in the road, and put a checklist together to keep you covered.

So, here are the four areas to watch over in order to keep your store running smoothly this holiday season.

1. Analyze Your Store’s Operations

  • Update your store hours for the holidays across your website, search engine listings (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc), and social media pages (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.).
    If you’re going on vacation over the holidays and pausing your operations, try activating Woo Store Vacation to let folks know you’re away for a while.
  • Check that you have enough inventory for the holiday season, you don’t want to run out! Our Bulk Stock Management extension makes inventory overview and management easy —learn more.
  • Check that you have enough packaging for shipping.
  • Make sure that you have a plan for managing returns.
    • Whether you accept returns or not, make sure that is clear to customers on your website, along with specifics of the return policy (ex: 30 day limit, must be unopened, etc.).
    • WooCommerce has the built-in “Terms and Conditions” option to help make your terms clear.
    • If you do accept returns, make sure the return and refund steps are clear and easy for your customers. The Returns and Warranty Requests extension helps manage that process and make it easy for you, too.
Set warranties with limited durations for your products

2. Test All The Things

If running an online store is new to you or you’re offering new options this holiday season (products/payments/shipping), run through the full order process from checkout to shipping the order. This will help you become familiar with every step of the process and guard against issues caused by surprises.

  • Checkout Process
    • Check that all pages (Shop, Product, Checkout) load properly.
    • Check that the “add to cart” button works and that you can add and remove products from the cart and checkout pages.
  • Payment Processor
    • If you haven’t had any orders yet, it’s a good idea to place a few test orders to make sure your payment processor is working properly. Most payment providers have a “Test Mode” option that will allow you to place orders without taking actual payments. Consult the documentation for your payment option/extension for more information.
    • Try placing an order by being logged into an account, and also try checking out as a guest (if you have that setting enabled).
    • Check to make sure taxes are calculating properly. Try TaxJar for WooCommerce to calculate and deducat taxes at checkout and consult with a tax professional if you’re unsure about what taxes you need to be charging.
  • Shipping Options
    • Make sure you have all of your Shipping Zones set up properly and that your shipping rates are calculating correctly by placing a few test orders from addresses across the area(s) that you ship to. If your rates are off, make sure you check that your products’ weights and dimensions are set correctly and that the address you are testing with is correct and belongs to a zone that you ship to.
    • If you haven’t shipped anything out yet, you will want to make sure your available packaging is correct. Also, make sure you’re aware of any restrictions associated with the shipping methods you are using (weight, distance, size, residential/commercial, etc.).

3. Be Smart With Updates

Updates are critical to keeping your site running at peak efficiency, but they can also cripple your site if not handled properly.

  • Test updates on a staging site before updating on your live site. Updating without testing first on a staging site can take your site down, or cause hidden issues that you’ll hear about from your customers later.
    • Ask your hosting provider if a staging site is part of your hosting package. If so, they will be able to help you set it up.
    • If your host isn’t able to help set up a staging site, WP Staging is perfect for quickly making a clone of your live site.
  • Update well before the holiday rush, NOT during.
    • If you’re not sure whether you need to update, you can check your System Status.
      • Look to see if your theme or any plugins need updates.
      • Check if your theme has outdated template files. The documentation here will help fix outdated template files, but it’s best to contact your theme developer directly for help updating first as using the default files may change the look and/or functionality of your site.
      • Check for outdated PHP/MySQL/Server versions. Keep your server components up to date. Also, it’s time to update to PHP 7 if you’re not there yet. Ask your hosting provider for help addressing any server issues that you see.
    • Only update during holidays if it’s an emergency fix. If your site is working without issues, DO NOT update until the holidays are over. Ideally, you don’t want any downtime during the busiest season of the year.
      • You can determine if an update is critical and necessary by looking at the update details in the changelog of the plugin/extension. The changelog should be accessible on the plugin update page by clicking the corresponding “View version X.X.X details” link. If you’re not sure where that is, you can contact the plugin developers directly and ask for a link to the changelog.

4. Have Your Support Plan Ready

It is critical that you know exactly where to go for help if you need it. If X happens, contact Y, etc. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to contact support if you encounter an issue. Give them as much time as possible to look into the problem.

  • Hosting
    • If you are not sure if you have backups in place, contact your hosting provider to help you set them up and walk you through the process of how to quickly restore a backup.
      Make sure at the very least that you have full backups running daily.
    • If your hosting provider is not helpful, we recommend looking into Jetpack Backups for automated backups.
  • Theme and Plugins
    • Know who your theme and plugin developers are and how best to contact them if you encounter issues. If you’re not sure, you can go to Plugins > Installed Plugins in your WP Admin and click the “View Details” link.
  • Payments and Shipping
    • Have the contact information ready for the support team for your Payment and Shipping providers, should there be an issue with your accounts or the order process.
  • WooCommerce
    • Not all issues with your store are caused by bugs or setup problems within WooCommerce itself. Theme and plugin conflicts are extremely common causes of issues, and you can do some troubleshooting to rule out a conflict by following these steps.
    • If you are certain the issue is with WooCommerce or one of the extensions or themes we sell here at WooCommerce.com, you can log in to your WooCommerce.com account and submit a support request to us.

For more information and general WooCommerce support, check out our WooCommerce Support FAQs.

We Wish You and Your Store All The Best For The Holidays

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the checklist.

We hope these tips — put together by myself and the rest of your Happiness Engineer friends at WooCommerce.com — make this upcoming holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable. And on that note: here are a few plugins to get your store in the holiday spirit:

And that’s a wrap! If you have other tips for troubleshooting and staying ahead this holiday, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

5 Responses

  1. Ashiss biswas
    October 27, 2018 at 9:07 am #

    that is why I use Woocommerce.

  2. Adeyemi Solomon
    October 30, 2018 at 12:14 am #

    Woocommerce is really ok for business development

  3. Roshan Jha
    October 31, 2018 at 7:42 am #

    That’s why I love using woocommerce. Thanks for putting out this valuable information out.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Luke Cavanagh
    November 7, 2018 at 6:55 am #

    Making sure WooCommerce is updated to version 3.5.1 before WordPress 5.0 ships, should top of the list, since using old versions of WooCommerce with WordPress 5.0 will results in breaks.

  5. Michael
    November 16, 2018 at 11:55 pm #

    great information and great read!


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