Here are a couple dates that, depending on what side of the fence you sit on, will have you circling your calendars or hiding for cover:

Black Friday, the quote-official-end quote retail kickoff to the holiday shopping season, is November 28. “CyberMonday,” its online counterpart, is slated for Dec. 1.

Both retail and Internet shopping present pros and cons for me. Being of a certain age, I have fond memories of trips to malls or department behemoths, be it with my parents shopping for me for Santa or making the rounds for my kids during the holidays. I’m also appreciative of the luxuries the click of a mouse and a credit card number afford when it comes to stacking the space around my Christmas tree or stuffing stockings.

In fact, the latter is starting to take precedence over the former. Why battle packed parking lots, hordes of shoppers and long lines at cash registers when I don’t have to start the car? Or require footwear, for that matter?

The big retail chains have prepared for the growth in online ecommerce and have designed ecommerce sites that are extremely user friendly, converting visitors to customers online. This allows them to capture a share of the over $262 billion dollars being spent online. These large ecommerce sites are sure to see a boost in their fourth quarter earnings, courtesy of their well-oiled online sales machines.

Through experience we've found that successful ecommerce businesses treat their websites like storefronts.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many smaller, market-specific shops with ecommerce presences.

A couple years back, for example, I was looking high and low for a hard-to-find vinyl album for a friend of mine and, despite locating it on a music-geared website from a Midwest record store, it took no small amount of work on my part to track it down within the site’s confines. After purchasing it, I saw it on a competitor’s website that was much easier to navigate.

Our primary goal at Leverage, for all of our clients including ecommerce clients, is to promote and optimize their online operations to gain them the best returns possible. For ecommerce, driving relevant traffic to the site – which we’ve optimized to convert visits to sales – is of chief importance. We’ve seen great success in marketing ecommerce websites and have turned numerous online stores around from stagnation to monthly revenue increases. There is no doubt about it, the online ecommerce landscape is competitive but the opportunity is huge. It requires staying on the cutting edge of online marketing, design and reporting and measurement.

Through our experience, we’ve found that successful e-commerce businesses treat their websites like their physical storefronts. Storefronts, in order to be successful, require maintenance, investments into upgrades, advertising and promotion, customer service, and an efficient sales process. Consider how your ecommerce site would appear in the physical world and ask yourself, would anyone come to that store and purchase a product? If you have any doubts, you may not be ready for the upcoming shopping season.