A cou­ple of weeks ago, we looked at the ways e-commerce sites can and should be test­ing and respond­ing to the ups and downs of hol­i­day shop­ping. Now we’re in the midst of it all—numbers are being mea­sured by the minute and the foun­da­tion has long been laid for what we hope is your most suc­cess­ful sea­son yet.

But all of this test­ing and respond­ing isn’t just about dri­ving peo­ple to buy right now, it’s also about set­ting your site up for ongo­ing suc­cess through­out 2014 and well into next year’s hol­i­day season—and even beyond. You might be feel­ing the sea­sonal crush right now, but it’s impor­tant to try and look ahead, even though the results of your still influx strat­egy haven’t been wholly rec­og­nized or ana­lyzed. Here’s how and why.

So Long, Seasonality

Unless you’re sell­ing heart-shaped boxes of choco­late, school sup­plies, or Hal­loween cos­tumes, the Q4 period is the real game changer—at the very least, it’s prob­a­bly when you turn the prof­itabil­ity cor­ner. Cap­ture the infor­ma­tion now and lever­age it next hol­i­day. Don’t and you’ll be scram­bling to pull, ana­lyze, and imple­ment findings—and you’ll no doubt be miss­ing some essen­tial ele­ments that sim­ply can’t be repli­cated or culled from any other period.

More impor­tantly, though, because of the vol­ume and influx of new con­sumers, the hol­i­day sea­son pro­vides an essen­tial period to pre­pare for what will morph into ever­green pro­mo­tions and cam­paigns down the road. Online shop­ping is less sea­son­ally depen­dent than ever, and most mer­chants are grav­i­tat­ing toward ongo­ing web­site opti­miza­tion strate­gies. The hol­i­days are a great time to cap­ture more infor­ma­tion faster than you’d ever be able to dur­ing the year.

The most suc­cess­ful, non­sea­son­ally depen­dent retail­ers take these lessons, roll out sim­i­lar opti­miza­tion strate­gies through­out the year, and then lean on the spe­cific met­rics to keep and retain cus­tomers come next Decem­ber. Look at the exam­ple I gave ear­lier: Smi­l­ey­Cookie tested five dif­fer­ent value propo­si­tions dur­ing one of its peak peri­ods and found one per­formed leaps and bounds above the rest. Now, that next busi­ness day ship­ping com­mit­ment is a core part of the brand and is offered on every order, every day.

Stock Your Tro­phy Case—Now

Your team fought hard and had—and will con­tinue to have—plenty of well-deserved suc­cesses this sea­son. Show­case those suc­cesses for the entire orga­ni­za­tion. As soon as the sea­son is over, you, as a mar­keter, shouldn’t wait for mer­chants to tell you what hap­pened. Look at the num­bers, see what worked, and start set­ting the ground­work to grow even more in 2014. Don’t get caught up in the post-holiday crush come Jan­u­ary. Start review­ing and tout­ing now when it’s fresh, excit­ing, and com­pletely top­i­cal to the entire orga­ni­za­tion. At the same time, don’t rest on your lau­rels from a great 2013. Take this infor­ma­tion to line your­self up for suc­cess in Jan­u­ary and beyond.

What We’re Already Seeing

We’re still weeks from Christ­mas, but some of the sea­sonal trends are already emerg­ing. With less than four weeks sep­a­rat­ing Thanks­giv­ing and Decem­ber 25, sell­ers are already scrambling—the shorter sea­son could spell less time for brick-and-mortar buy­ing and push more con­sumers online. What else should you keep your eye on? Accord­ing to the Adobe Dig­i­tal Index assess­ment, it’s the usual sus­pects, as well as a few new game changers:

  • Black Fri­day is expected to be up 17 per­cent, to $1.6 bil­lion this year.
  • Rel­a­tive new­comer Cyber Mon­day is, not sur­pris­ingly, expected to be up as well, land­ing around 3.5 times the aver­age daily online take and top­ping $2.27 billion.
  • Thanks­giv­ing, now the fastest-growing shop­ping day on the cal­en­dar, is expected to top $1.1 bil­lion, up 21 per­cent year over year. It could even over­take Black Fri­day in the com­ing years. Why? Because stuffed and exhausted con­sumers know there are sales lurk­ing, but they just don’t want to leave the house. Cue the smart­phones and tablets!
  • Mobile com­merce is expected to be up 40 per­cent over hol­i­day 2012, and more and more con­sumers will turn to their smart­phones for bar­gain hunt­ing and “win­dow shop­ping 2.0,” mak­ing on-the-go engage­ment even more crit­i­cal than ever.

It’s too early to say where these trends will net out, but it’s excit­ing to spec­u­late how these and other rel­a­tively new mar­ket­ing tactics—think con­nected TV, app/in-store con­nec­tiv­ity, and dynamic con­tent outreach—will impact the final shop­ping stats and, more­over, how they’ll steer 2014. We’ll report back post-holiday, but keep an eye out for these and a host of other unique buyer trends.

For right now, don’t take your eye off the ball (or the turkey, more aptly). But be pre­pared to show off your suc­cesses in the next few weeks, and plan to take a deep dive into what worked and what didn’t so you can tee up a hugely suc­cess­ful 2014—and a big­ger, bet­ter, more stress-free hol­i­day ever come next year.

Happy holidays—and hol­i­day shopping—everyone.