E-commerce Gift Guide Tips

Ready for the busiest time of year in e-commerce? Hopefully you’ve learned a lot from our holiday prep blog posts so far. November is rapidly approaching and we want to share our e-commerce gift guide tips with you.

Did you know that the 2018 holiday shopping season has one more day than last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day? This means 34 days of shopping, the maximum possible. And, according to a survey by Deloitte, e-commerce sales are expected to rise 17-22 percent this holiday season and reach $128-134 billion in sales. Plus in their 2017 Holiday Retail Survey, shoppers indicated they were most likely to spend online and expected to spend at least $430 on gifts.

Remember that sales don’t stop after Cyber Week. On Musictoday’s e-commerce platform in 2017 the final week before Christmas accounted for 11% of visits and 10% of transactions during November and December.

During the holiday period it’s important to focus not just on your target customer, but on potential giftees. Gift guides greatly help visitors while they shop for friends and family or research gifts for themselves. Understanding what customers are looking for is also crucial, you can do this by using historic sales data and information from on-site and external search. Read on to learn more!


Debut your holiday gift guide as early as you can during the last 4 months of the year. Most online retailers launch their holiday gift guides on November 1st in order to capitalize on revenue generated leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Customers are researching and possibly buying gifts earlier than November though – in fact holiday shopping can begin as early as October. E-commerce technology and smartphones make it easy for shoppers to search and discover gifts whenever and wherever they want.

Assortment Planning

The most important part of gift guide planning is making sure you have the product assortment to justify building one. If you have a small store assortment a gift guide may not be worth the time investment. If you have a good assortment of products then confirm you have enough inventory to satisfy the uptick in demand during the holiday period. Include any holiday-themed items, year-round best-selling items, and products most searched for on your site and externally (e.g. Google or Bing search engines) when considering your selection.


The departments and categories featured on your gift guide page should be data-driven. Take a quick look at your site analytics and determine which departments have performed the best this year.

Another great place to look for guidance is in on-site search data. When customers arrive on your site are they looking for particular products or have certain interests? If you see lots of search entries for specific items, add those to your gift guide. External search data will also be useful, so determine the top search terms coming in from external search engines and use those when planning your gift guide categories.

Gift guides should also include categories for those with budget limitations or for those shopping for the people in their life (gender, age, interest, or theme) like “gifts for her”, “gifts for Mike Gordon fans”, “gifts for kids”, or “gifts for Aladdin Sane fans”.

When it comes to layout, use a mix of shoppable tiles and product carousels with featured products. Some tile examples could include:

  • Gifts for him/her/kids
  • Gifts under $25/$50/$100 or gifts over $100
  • Best sellers
  • New arrivals
  • Top product categories
  • Interests/themed collections
  • eGift cards
Elvis e-commerce gift guide

2017 Elvis Shop Gift Guide

Marketing Benefits

Gift guides and the departments created to complement them can be a great boost for your store’s organic search and improve the navigation and discovery experience of visitors. We recommend keeping gift guides live year-round as shoppers use the term “gift” in their searches throughout the year. Think about other holidays and gifting events, like birthdays – simply switch out creative at various times!

Gift guides and their departments also make great landing pages for marketing campaigns. Use these pages in paid search, email, social, affiliate and more. A lot of effort goes into these rich content pages so make the most of them!


Don’t forget! Some of your customers may be treating themselves while shopping for the important people in their lives. In Deloitte’s 2017 survey, half of respondents admitted that they were planning to purchase gifts for themselves while shopping for others. Add some “selfish” marketing to the mix with “Treat Yourself” emails or retargeting campaigns on Facebook or Google Ads.

Shipping Deadlines

A nice thing to do is reiterate any holiday shipping deadlines on your Gift Guide landing page. Customers want to know if the gift they are ordering will reach its destination in time. A sitewide banner would be the ideal solution for visibility at all times during the customer journey in November and December.

Looking for more e-commerce holiday tips? Check out these tips from the Musictoday team or these 10 e-commerce holiday prep tips from last year.

About the Author: Jasmine Van Schaick is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Musictoday. She manages projects across affiliate marketing, display remarketing, organic SEO, corporate content development and more.

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