How to Create an Online Holiday Gift Guide

This article was updated on 11/18/2022.

As shoppers start drafting their holiday lists, you’ll want to be sure that items from your online store are included. According to the Square and Afterpay Festive Forecast report, online browsing and online shopping play a big role in holiday gift giving: 43% of shoppers get their gift inspiration through websites, blogs, or forums, and 53% of consumers plan to purchase their holiday gifts online. 

One of the best ways to boost your eCommerce sales during the holiday shopping frenzy is by creating a well-rounded digital gift guide to promote products and capture customer interest. Here’s everything you need to know about creating a successful eCommerce holiday gift guide.

7 Steps to Create a Digital Holiday Gift Guide

Showcasing curated merchandise in an online list, guide, or eCommerce display can simplify the gift-buying experience and inspire some excitement in your online products. These seven steps outline how to showcase your eCommerce products this holiday season.

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1. Organize your gift idea lists thoughtfully

Rather than putting random items into a digital gift guide, focus on targeting specific customer segments with relevant and appealing suggestions.

Here are a few ways you can approach list organization:

  • By recipient: Go beyond “women,” “men,” and “kids” to address groups who are more specific or harder to shop for, such as teachers, work associates, and service providers.
  • By interest: If you have a wide range of merchandise, segment your list by hobbies or personality traits, such as “gifts for hikers” or “gifts to work from home.” This works even better if your store caters to a niche. For example, a cooking store could do lists of “gifts for novice cooks” and “gifts for the chef who loves gadgets.”
  • By price: Offer a variety of price points. While many shoppers may gravitate toward lower-priced categories, don’t shy away from a luxury list for those looking to splurge.
  • By age: Help a confused shopper find just the right thing for their tween niece or elderly uncle by segmenting the list by age. Broad categories are fine for all-purpose recommendations, e.g., “toddlers,” “teens,” and “adults.”
  • A combination: There may be elements of each of these segmenting strategies that work for your site. Once you’ve created the text and images, you can mix and match lists. An art set could be marketed in lists targeted toward “kids,” “under $25,” and “gifts for sheltering in place.” You could also create a top list of “best all-around gifts” to appeal to a busy shopper who wants to make a fast decision.

2. Choose your eCommerce products carefully

Once you’ve established categories, you might be tempted to start including everything on your site that logically fits. But shoppers appreciate a curated selection that includes just a few choice items in each group.

To decide which items to promote, think about where your eCommerce store would benefit from increased sales. You might decide to focus on popular products as hot sellers to help attract new customers. It might also make financial sense to feature merchandise that allows a larger-than-average markup to improve your profitability. Or you might want to include an item for which you have a backlog of inventory.

Seek input from your suppliers on new products or what they expect to be especially buzzworthy this year. They might offer you a discount if you include their products in your online holiday gift guide. And discuss how easy certain items are to source to ensure your digital gift guide suggestions will be available throughout the shopping season.

And finally, aim for quality. Suggesting a shoddy product can mar your reputation among the online shoppers who are relying on your recommendations.

3. Focus on high-quality product images and presentation

You want to make your digital holiday gift guide stand out, so go the extra mile with attractive graphics and high-quality photos or videos. Use text that reflects your brand voice and engages your audience. Consider telling a story or having a theme that runs throughout the online piece.

As you design your eCommerce guide, make sure that each “list” includes a summary at the top that clearly informs customers of the type of recipient for whom these items were curated. And test that the digital holiday gift guide loads and displays well on all kinds of platforms and mobile devices.

4. Educate the shopper

With in-store browsing curtailed, help customers feel confident in their purchases by doing the following:

  • Include clear photos, taken from multiple angles.
  • Write detailed item descriptions that engage the five senses.
  • Update sizing charts with explicit information on fit.
  • Include item dimensions for physical goods so shoppers can visualize the merchandise in their space.
  • Add shoppers’ feedback, testimonials, or reviews, if possible.

5. Develop an online marketing plan

The internet will soon be filled with digital holiday gift guides, so you’ll need to step up your marketing to get noticed. Tease different types of lists in social media posts, and add relevant hashtags to help get your eCommerce holiday gift guide in front of your ideal customer. You can use general ones like #HolidayGiftGuide, #HolidayShopping, and #PerfectGift, or mention customer personas tied to the type of gift, like #GiftsforWorkingMoms or #GiftsforGolfers.

Create an email newsletter that highlights various categories and reveals a few representative standout items, or send personalized texts to customers with curated recommendations based on their purchasing history. If you can, it’s important to customize the content to cater to specific shopping groups.

To aid discovery, use search engine optimization (SEO) best practices that can help get your list to the top of an eCommerce web search. Conduct keyword research and include those words and phrases prominently in the category names, product descriptions, and image file names.

6. Provide a seamless user experience to encourage purchasing

Once a customer finds an enticing item in your online gift guide, you want them to be glad they’re shopping with you. Make sure your page loads quickly — you may need to decrease your image file sizes — and double-check that all links you include in your email or social media marketing aren’t broken or going to the wrong page. Create a generous return policy and offer multiple payment options.

It’s also important not to overlook the personal touch. This holiday season, more shoppers will be turning to eCommerce for all their needs and may miss the service they’re used to receiving in stores. Provide different avenues for customers to get in touch, such as chatbots or messaging platforms, that encourage shoppers to contact you with questions about an item or for assistance with their gift list.

7. Highlight gift cards for last-minute shoppers

Gift cards may not fall into a specific curated gift category, but that makes them perfect for last-minute shoppers or shoppers who are having a hard time selecting the right gift. Offering holiday gift cards to your eCommerce store is a simple way to attract new customers and bring in business during the holiday season.

You can offer physical gift cards that are mailed to the customer or digital gift cards that can be easily gifted and redeemed online. Be sure to advertise that you offer gift cards with banners or pop-ups on your online store, through email or text marketing, or on your social media channels.

Once you’ve created your eCommerce holiday gift guide, follow these tips to prepare your eCommerce store for online traffic, make online payments simple for customers, and keep holiday shoppers returning throughout the year.