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Check for Holiday Readiness

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain why you should limit changes to any primary instance group (PIG) during the holiday period.
  • List two things that can display on a No Search Results page.
  • Explain how sorting rules can be adjusted for post-peak days versus trailing peak days.
  • Describe other resources you can use to learn more about holiday preparation.


Before the holiday season starts, you need to make sure all the operational aspects of your storefront are ready for the big push. You don’t want to be blindsided by things going wrong during this key revenue-driving period.

Despite lingering pandemic uncertainty, you want to dazzle your shoppers with an amazing shopping experience. You want them to come back year after year and recommend your awesome site to friends and family. That takes planning, action, and a little foresight.

This unit describes general steps you can take. For more details and step-by-step actions for administrators, take a look at the Prepare Your Salesforce B2C Commerce Storefront for Holiday Shopping trail.

Check Systems and Resources

Take care of your systems. Avoid heavy operations on the staging and development instances during the highest peak hours, because all three instances on a PIG—production, staging, and development—share resources.

Don’t move data or code during peak hours. You don’t want to introduce new code into the mix during your peak selling time, when every second counts. You don’t want to bounce an active shopper out of their cart.

Give your CSM an updated list of emergency contacts. Submit a ticket to Salesforce B2C Commerce Customer Support a week prior to your peak traffic. Familiarize yourself with the escalation process for B2C Commerce and your integrations. Provide workload estimates to logistics and customer care prior to the peak.

Check Search Settings

If your shoppers can’t find it, they can’t buy it. Optimizing site search for the holidays is a critical component of holiday readiness. Not only should you optimize search, but you should also review and modify your search dictionaries and tuning rules.

A No Search Results pages can be a missed opportunity or a page showing alternative choices for a better customer experience.

Review these areas to maximize your storefront’s search capabilities.

  • Promotional Landing Pages: Create dedicated landing pages for discount, coupon, sale, and gift ideas; and configure the respective redirections.
  • Type-Ahead Search: Implement this functionality, where a search begins as soon as the shopper types a few characters into the search field. This feature is expected by most shoppers.
  • Synonyms: Create synonyms to link shopper terms to products and for misspellings. Also use Commerce Cloud Einstein Search Dictionaries to automatically discover missing search terms shoppers are using, and enable new terms
  • Hypernyms: Create hypernyms, a word with broad meaning that more specific words fall under. For example, color is a hypernym of red. Link specific search terms to specific product IDs.
  • No Search Results: Every search must end with a result or a suggestion. Place a holiday gift guide on the No Search Results page to pique shopper interest. Promote online exclusives or special offers using banners. Add a store locator or populate the page with product recommendations.
  • Search Results Template: Use the content slot on the reference architecture’s search results template to promote categories, gift cards, online exclusives, or gift guides.
  • Out-of-Stock or Discontinued Items: Monitor search analytics and see what popular products are searched for, but sold out or discontinued. Offer the option to back-order out-of-stock products, or redirect to another category.

Search Site Tuning

Tune your site to make searching as snag-free as possible.

  • Top Terms: Test your top 50 site search terms from the last holiday season.
  • Holiday Terms: Optimize popular holiday specific terms such as Gifts, Gift Guide, Gifting, Stocking Stuffer, and so on.
  • Common Misspellings: Add the most common misspellings to your dictionaries, and review weekly during the holiday season.
  • Low-Conversion Terms: Track low-converting terms that are getting results. Are the correct items being returned?
  • Redirects: Use redirects for holiday-curated categories.

Check Sorting Rules

The holidays are right around the corner, so we better get ready. We can start by considering what we want shoppers to see as the holiday period approaches and on key shopping days.

Let’s look at holiday-specific sorting rule scenarios for three key periods.

  • The Season Kickoff
  • Trailing Peak Days
  • Post-Peak Days

The Season Kickoff

The season kickoff whets the shopper’s appetite for the best deals of the season. They might not click that Add to Cart button right away, but you’ve caught their interest.

Sorting rules control the order in which category and search results display the products. This is important because the products at the top of the results get a lot more shopper attention than the ones at the bottom.

You could also use Einstein Predictive Sort to personalize the sort order of search and category pages for each shopper, whether they’re anonymous or known, creating a more personalized experience based on individual behavior. Either way, it’s important to review your sorting rules to ensure that shoppers have an easier time finding what they want to buy, and that you have an easier time promoting the items you want them to look at first.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sorting rules should account for:

  • Promotional items
  • Special holiday items
  • Best sellers

Sort holiday items to the top using search placement codes in sorting rules, and promote special holiday items by giving them the highest ranking. Reserve category position settings to promote specific items that are the most critical to your business.

Use active data in your sorting rules, and sort the rest of the products by top sellers and revenue. Define what works best for your product range by conducting a few A/B tests before and during the peak part of the season.

Use a longer period of time for active data during the rest of the year, but tighten it for the holiday season to 7 days (or even 1 day), as the sales volume increases.

Trailing Peak Days

During the trailing peak days, your highest order days have passed, but there are still plenty of selling days left before Christmas.

In general product categories, feature higher-inventory items with available inventory across colors and sizes using these attributes.

  • SKU Coverage: Ratio between the total number of variants and their availability status.
  • Available to Sell: Actual inventory of the style, including all its variants.
  • Availability Rank: A ranking of high and low stock. If a product’s stock goes below 10%, for example, then the product is categorized into the low-stock group.

Push products with high inventory along with a good SKU coverage to the top to avoid having products with a large inventory of one size and color sort at the top.

If you have a Holiday Gift Guide category, feature remaining gift items with a similar availability coverage sorting rule or using manual positioning such as category position.

Post-Peak Days

In your post-peak days, you’re not only in a heavy sales period, but you’re also publishing your new seasonal catalog. It’s a great place to be!

What you can do now is use the same or similar sorting rule that we just discussed. That means featuring your higher-inventory items across colors and sizing with an availability attribute—but now for a sales category. Many shoppers have learned over the years that the steepest discounts are given during this period.

For your non-sale categories, create a unique sorting rule that highlights new arrivals above the fold, while pushing sale items to the bottom.

Check Holiday Navigation and Informational Pages

Take a look at some holiday inspiration from past holiday seasons.

  • Holiday Navigation: Update the navigation to highlight gift guides and special holiday categories. Use your homepage to feature holiday look-books, gift cards, and special holiday services.
  • Holiday Policies and Special Services: Let your shoppers know about changes to your regular business practices during the holidays. Make seasonal policies clear and easy to find. Update existing search redirects to the holiday versions. If you have special services available only during the holiday season, feature them on your homepage.

Check Holiday Resources

Want to learn more about holiday preparation? Take a look at the Salesforce Holiday Readiness Guide for tools and resources to help you prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

Let's Wrap It Up

We learned how last year’s holiday analytics can help us get ready for the next holiday season. With a strategic plan in mind, we can optimize our holiday promotions, giving shoppers an easy and enjoyable experience. A growing part of that experience is mobile, and we’ll plan accordingly by offering alternative payment methods. We have lots to consider with systems, search, sorting rules, and of course, holiday-specific promotions.

You’ve done an excellent job getting ready for the next holiday push. Now earn that excellent badge!

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