Prepare Your Online Store For Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are around the corner, and if you haven’t started preparing your online store yet, this is your last chance! It’s time to get ready for one of the busiest times of the year for all eCommerce and small business owners.
After the global pandemic shook the entire retail industry, most businesses have embraced the online shopping experience, and many have thrived from it. The online environment is here to stay and as such, we want to make sure you’re ready for the traffic coming your way.
Today we’ll be diving into the best ways to prepare your online stores for Black Friday & Cyber Monday. People are getting all of their holiday purchases now, so you need to make sure you’re available and approaching customers the best way possible! Let’s get started…
Create a strategic marketing plan
Let’s face it, it’s already it’s too late to start a long term ad campaign, but we’re here to tell you there are some amazing solutions to get sales in. The best way to prepare your online stores for BFCM is to plan your marketing.
Studies have shown, 43% of Canadians said they planned to spend on Black Friday, with an average spend of $362. With that you mind, your online store needs to be on their list!
When it comes to creating a strategic marketing plan, you want to consider a couple of things, you want to:
Lean on social media
Social media is a wonderful place for brands to provide engaging, high quality content that allure customers to make a purchase. Along with blog posts via social media, create informational content that is beneficial to your audience.
For this Black Friday remember to include a sense of urgency in your messages but, be careful to not overdo it. Buyers will quickly become immune to an endless stream of “limited time offers” and begin to ignore them if they see too many of them. Not sure if you’re laying it on thick? Check out our recent blogs on CTA’s and all things online tips!
Launch new products
This year’s Black Friday weekend is a great time to introduce a new product! But, keep in mind, for your product launch to be successful, you have to create more anticipation to engage new and loyal customers.
Increase your awareness by using your blog, store promotions or even partnering with industry influencers. Here are a few other tactics to consider:
1) Keep a healthy suspense going as long as you can
2) Test thoroughly before launching
3) Always consider pre-orders
4) Collect feedback after the launch
The main benefit of product launches is to draw attention to your online store in a new way. This extra attention can often lead to more customers and increased sales for both your existing products and your new ones alike. This is where you’d be able to properly test your website traffic and any bounce rates!
Delight your most loyal customers
Especially in a time that has been challenging for many, surprising your customers can go a long way.
Whether it’s taking your customer service to the next level or creating a customer loyalty and rewards program, delivering a leading customer experience lets your customers know you’ll always go the extra mile for them — even on the big day.
Providing unanticipated incentives to your usual customers can revive their interest, restore their loyalty and boost your sales. The best way would be to reach out personally-show them you actually value their presence!
Connect digitally with SMS marketing or send handwritten thank you notes to your most loyal shoppers. Be sure to engage with customers on social media with personalized direct messages or even starting a LIVE and having them join you for a moment with any testimonials of your product and or service.
This ability to reach out to customers on a personal level can also give you a competitive edge against big-box retailers.
Go beyond Black Friday
Black Friday is only one day during a long holiday weekend where customers expect to bag phenomenal deals. Think long-term for you and your customers by having a marketing strategy for all five days of Cyber Week, like Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
Encourage your customers to not only take advantage of your holiday deals, but your engaged customer community as well. Leverage continued marketing emails, having a consistent presence on social media leading up to and during this long weekend along with sending abandoned cart notifications.
It’s important to have more than one way to prepare for your online marketing plans this BFCM, and with Bookmark here, you’ll get there. Don’t be afraid to reach out to our experts for more marketing plans at Bookmark.com.
Target your promos and discounts
This Black Friday & Cyber Monday prepare your online store by offering promo and discounts! Not just any discounts, offer targeted and specific ones catered to your audience.
32% of Canadians are looking for big discounts between 50% and 90% off on Black Friday (especially for shoppers in the 18-24 range).
The reality for many shoppers is the larger shift of in-store to online shopping. With that being said, having targeted discounts & promos increase your customer’s online experience and traffic rate in the long run for the last months of this year. Thus bringing in a larger scale of revenue.
Consider getting people talking online and in-person a few weeks in advance of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Hint at a few of the special offers you plan to run in order to build excitement with new and existing customers to get the word out. Don’t be afraid to display discounts clearly on the homepage. This provides clarity for your customers to see what they will save during! Write up a creative subject line to grab their attention and include an email-exclusive coupon valid for the day of your sale!
Add a countdown banner. This’ll add urgency and build anticipation. You can create one easily on the Bookmark platform!
Make sure your website is customer friendly
With Black Friday & Cyber Monday around the corner the last thing your online store needs is complaints that it isn’t user friendly.
We’ve seen the news footage of thousands of people fighting (or should we say boxing?) their way through bricks-and-mortar stores on Black Friday, but we mustn’t forget the hard hit that e-commerce stores take during big shopping and sale blitzes.
When considering ways to prepare your online stores for the spike in traffic, remember to test and optimize some or all of the following (and well in advance):
Your site speed and overall navigation
If your website is too sluggish, too confusing, or leads your customers to too many 404 pages, you may be setting yourself up to lose your biggest-spending customers to your better-equipped competitors. With this, you will have a higher bounce rate if anything…
Make sure the copy is rich, relevant, includes specs and customer reviews.
Manage any expectations around products that might present a problem down the road if they are unknown to consumers.
Return and exchange policies
Ensure these are accurate and up to date. Why? 72% of consumers said they’d spend more and buy more often with merchants that make the return experience as simple as possible.
Not to mention, 89% of repeat customers say they would buy again if they had a solid return experience.
Up-to-date FAQ pages and chatbots
Customers will be using your FAQ pages and other online means to seek answers to their burning questions. They want to, before they have to contact your customer service so make sure wherever they look, the information they find is current, accurate, and truthful.
Experiencing extreme delays? Facing huge spikes in call volume? Let your customers know via a banner at the top of your website so that any delays or disruptions to service do not come as a surprise down the road. This is great for the days leading up to BFCM week so it’s not a shock to them.
Avoid cart abandonment and lost customers by making the buying process as easy as possible. Offer the option to check out as a guest; provide multiple ways to pay and make the process as short as possible.
Allow for multiple shipping and delivery solutions
Another great way to prepare your online stores for BFCM sales would be providing multiple shipping and delivery solutions. Keep in mind as the snow starts to fall, shipping starts it’s busiest season.
With Bookmark, you can offer curbside delivery, an easy checkout process, and more. Shoppers want to be able to know when their shipment will arrive, so it is important to be able to display estimated shipping times.
While some shoppers need their order to arrive as quickly as possible, others would rather pay less for shipping and receive their order later. To accommodate different shoppers, it is essential to offer different shipping costs and services.
Shipping is a great way to entice shoppers. For example, you can offer free shipping or low-cost express delivery. Consider providing your customers with extremely competitive shipping rates so you can build the shipping strategy that is right for your business!
Have a return policy and return shipping setup. Customers may need to make returns, so it is best to have a clear returns policy listed on your website. If your customer goes through a poor return experience, you can practically guarantee they’d stop shopping with you.
One wrong return experience can affect their perception of your business which can spread to how they rate you. By integrating shipping into your online store, you’d be able to provide instant, accurate shipping rates to your customers then let your website do the work for you – automatically processing and organizing your shipments.
Tip of the day
At the end of BFCM week, send out a poll asking your new & loyal customers how they liked their shipping and delivery experience and what you’d need to do better for next year!
Offer the best customer service
With BFCM sales going well, your customer service should be willing to provide the best experience for these busy bees! Get your customer service operations ready for the traffic!
Increased deals and sales also mean increased consumer traffic, and more instances for returns, exchanges, complaints, and customer service scenarios. A great way to prepare your online stores this year would be to have your customers leave positive reviews with incentives.
One of your brand’s greatest differentiators can be its customer service offering. Now ensuring priority for your online customers, especially during holiday shopping periods, is key.
Here are a couple of things to consider looking into with your employee and customer service teams:
Train or retrain your agents
To ensure that your customer service agents are really on their game, and ready to represent your brand as ‘customer-obsessed’, invest in training and retraining even the most experienced. Have more frequent meetings on all things customer service, dealing with tech crises, how to resolve matters quickly for irate customers, and all issues with returns.
Alternatives to the voice channel
Let’s be real, most call lines become clogged for this holiday sale and this is one of the biggest chronic annual problems. Use the leading-up months to set up phone line alternatives like SMS or MMS messaging, chatbots, or virtual receptionists.
At the end of the day, your online biz is your baby and you need to make sure your customer service team is loyal to nurturing your plans and vision this BFCM weekend!
Set goals and track your sales
Never underestimate the power of tracking! Believe it or not, holiday shoppers are researching products and scouting deals well ahead of time-like, yesterday.
Best way to prepare your online store is mapping out the sales you’re going to offer for the BFCM weekend. Plan ahead to avoid messy last-minute sale scrambles and half thought-out deals (yikes).
Keep in mind that COVID-19 has presented shortages in many industries, thus affecting your manufacturers, suppliers, and or operation suppliers. It may take extra time to get what you need, so plan for these delays well ahead of time to minimize any frustrations from your customers.
For our service based biz wiz’s, this is your time to shine & seize the moment! Provide newsletters ahead of time with this very pain point and watch your site traffic double!
BONUS TIP: Keep an eye out for the competition
Every now and again we like to give bonus tips and this one is big! With a tidal wave of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals flooding every inch of the web, your small biz needs to set itself apart against other small operations and big-name retailers.
Extra touches can help prepare your online site from a rival online retailer! Consider offering a gift with each sale, expedited or free shipping, special packaging, or customized ‘thanks-for-shopping-with-us’ messages from your business.
This goes without saying-make sure your site is mobile-friendly! Last year alone, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit high ranks in retail history for e-commerce, with sales reaching $3.6 billion on mobile and 40% of all online retail coming from smartphone transactions and that’s only on Black Friday.
Cyber Monday made waves as well, with transactions soaring to $10.8 billion, the highest ever year-over-year dollar gain for smartphones. It gets better, smartphones accounted for more than half of all traffic on retail websites on Cyber Monday. Imagine this year we could track that back to your site?
At the end of the day…
Your online store may have delays and shortages but always provide hassle-free returns and friendly, prompt customer service. Take pride in the personality and care offered by your small business vs big-box retailers. Customers like to support small businesses and, in most cases, will appreciate, remember, even reward a more intimate online shopping experience.
Head directly to your audience’s inbox with a hard-to-ignore email. Creating promotional emails is a great way to let Black Friday shoppers know about your great deals. Have your creative subject line to grab their attention & slide in an email-exclusive coupon valid for the day of your sale.
The sooner you have a plan in place, the sooner you can bring attention to your Black Friday sale and prep customers to bring their holiday dollars to your eStore.
With Bookmark, don’t forget you can offer curbside delivery, an easy checkout process, and more. Shoppers will appreciate this extra service and continue to visit your site!
Lastly, we at Bookmark offer all of the solutions to have a secure and amazing BFCM experience. Every eCommerce solution under one roof! Don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts and get a head start on your online preparations today! Catch us here next week for more online tips and all things small business!