The most wonderful time of the year…is here. You already know that the holiday shopping season is the most critical period for retailers, both online and brick and mortar. How your business does during the last quarter of the year determines where things land for your bottom line.

This year, though, brand and e-commerce marketing managers are facing another wild ride, with uncertainty created by shifting trends. The pandemic brought on a surge in online buying, and many buyers are likely to continue to buy online. In fact, according to September 2021 survey data, consumers are planning a 50/50 split between online and brick-and-mortar buying. The retail giants—Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart—are already capitalizing on convenience to hold onto their share of wallet.

There are other factors, though, to consider. Shopping trends are changing fast. News of supply chain pressures and worldwide shipping delays has spurred many shoppers to buy early or shift their buying behavior — 83% of shoppers intend to start before Thanksgiving this year, in a departure from the norm. In such an unpredictable market at such a high-stakes time of year, business intelligence has never mattered more. This is where the performance analytics platform Line Item can be the lifeline e-commerce marketers need right now to ensure they make the most of the holiday season.

As we head into the heart of the 2021 holiday season, here are a few strategies to prepare and protect your digital shelf for the upcoming holidays.

Focus on organic search ranking. Whether they’re buying online or in person, many shoppers start their research online—on a smartphone or a tablet. This is why it’s essential to monitor and improve your online search ranking. Watch where you’re showing up, too. Moving from page 2 to page 1—and even into the top 10 listings—can significantly boost your sales. Improving your organic search ranking depends on visibility into what’s working—or not—for your brand. This is where Line Item can help, with detailed insight into what changes you could make to content, product descriptions, or imagery to affect your ranking in organic search results.

Analyze your paid search strategy. Shoppers are pressed for time, and you have only seconds to capture attention when it comes to search results. The holiday season is the time to invest in a robust paid search strategy, but you’ll want to be sure you understand what product attributes drive value. This is where Line Item can give you valuable campaign-level and product attribute insights. With them, you can better understand what’s driving the market and what your competitors are doing, so you can sharpen your edge and see ROI from a page-1 slot.

Ensure your product detail pages are complete. This is a biggie. Incomplete or inconsistent product detail pages can harm you, whether we’re talking about Amazon listings or your own website. Across your e-commerce portfolio, all product detail pages should be complete, correct, and compelling. Line Item can help with this to make sure you aren’t overlooking clear areas or gaps that prevent you from meeting category bestseller benchmark standards.

Evaluate your SEO strategy and campaigns. During this volatile time of year, whims and demand drive the market in unpredictable ways. And that’s during a typical season, which 2021 is anything but. It’s essential to drill down to campaign elements, including CPCs, to ensure you have a read on how changing demand, sudden interest, or seasonality might be driving spend. E-analytics insight from Line Item can help you ensure your campaigns are profitable and that your overall marketing spend ultimately drives return on investment.

Watch out-of-stocks closely. Maintaining optimal inventory is key to profitability. When a customer is ready to buy and your product is out of stock, you lose the sale—and maybe the customer, too. Line Item helps you determine if out-of-stocks are hurting your revenue.

Track pricing. Many retailers are introducing new pricing strategies to drive sales this holiday season. Buy Now Pay Later is one of these, and it can appeal to segments like Gen Z and the unbanked, both of which are more price sensitive. The major retailers have already rolled out BNPL options; some have been in play since 2019. BNPL can affect pricing, so it’s important to monitor this. With Line Item, you can verify item pricing, selling price, and list price across platforms, ensuring that products are priced correctly even with new options like BNPL, and you can easily monitor third-party and competitor activity to protect your brand and products.

Of course, there are other strategies to consider, too—best practices like:

  • Ensuring your checkout process is as easy as possible
  • Providing access to customer service with tools like live chat, and with quick responses
  • Creating engaging content, like gift guides
  • Using targeting and segmentation to create personalized email campaigns
  • Boosting sales with savvy retargeting
  • Using updated visuals and copy for featured holiday campaigns, and to ensure your site and product pages have that holiday look and feel, and more

This holiday season may be full of surprises, but your performance shouldn’t be one of them. The right insight can make or break your brand this holiday season, and business intelligence can give you what you need, when you need it. This is where Line Item really stands out as a single platform with insight into shopping trends and behavior, and what your competitors are doing—so you can finish 2021 in the black.