Shoppers may groan at the sight of the first Christmas-decked aisles in October, but the festive fourth quarter never really moves off the digital retailer’s radar. No sooner have the January sales numbers been crunched for the first quarter reports than their work diaries start filling up with plans for the next Christmas campaign.

With as much as 30% of revenue coming from the seasonal splurge, this is the season we simply have to get right – a task that's become a little more tricky over the last few years.

The once-predictable rise and fall of traffic through November and December is no more. Black Friday now casts its quixotic shadow over the whole season. Untethered from its Thanksgiving anchor, Black Friday is a relatively recent American import to the UK, where we're still trying figure out how this translates into daily sales and footfall numbers.


The Definitive Guide to the Christmas Shopping Season

Add to that the shifting of paradigms that mobile has brought in its wake, and the average retail executive could do with a little help, in the form of a useful to-do list that captures the key preparation activities for the 2017 season to come.

Which is exactly what we've packed into our Definitive Guide to the Christmas Shopping Season

This seasonal goody-bag includes a checklist on everything from merchandising strategy to top tips on capturing those last-minute shoppers. It also neatly wraps up some powerful insights from our analysts as to the 2017 season's key trends.


Is your website ready and resilient? 

Top of our list is cementing site resilience. If your website is a no-show at any point in the season, the repercussions will be severe. And it's a real risk, given the volatile traffic spikes that the likes of Black Friday and Cyber Week can throw your way.

We’ll give you the lowdown on the top tech tweaks that'll keep your site online, from trimming pipeline runtimes to optimising your site's caching.


Mobile matters 

Our guide also confirms that mobile will matter even more over Christmas 2017.

In 2016, we saw traffic to retail sites become majority mobile for the first time, amounting to 52% of all shopping visits. And mobile's order share surged to 31% in 2016, significantly up from 25% the year before. So, making mobile purchases glide as smoothly as Santa's sleigh is a top priority this Christmas.

The Definitive Guide also has some great ideas on maximising mobile.

Start by leveraging integrated mobile wallets, like Apple Pay and Android Pay, to bring one-touch buying to your customers. You'll see fewer abandoned baskets, especially if you can link them across mobile, tablet and computer. Customers really appreciate your efforts to track their picks as they flit between platforms.

And don't forget that gracefully guided mobile-to-store transitions are critical at this 'most wonderful time of the year'. Do this well, as the season draws to its finale, and you'll capture those crucial last-minute spends by shoppers who prefer leaving it down to the wire.

Other highlights in our guide include best practice for click-and-collect – a growing delivery channel for fourth-quarter purchases – and how to turn the dreaded Boxing Day returns to your advantage, as the turkey goes cold.

So, make the most of our guide and its handy checklist as the season hots up: we're pretty sure you'll be checking it more than just twice.