Black Friday Strategy: 12-Point Ecommerce Checklist
As we approach the end of the longest year on record, shops all over the world are preparing for an exciting and stressful Black Friday Cyber Monday period.
But, like everything else in 2020, it’s unlikely that this year’s holiday sales are going to be anything like years before. With the pandemic having influenced consumer buying habits to a massive degree, further accelerating the shift towards online shopping, it’s likely to be the busiest Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) we’ve ever seen.
So how can you prepare? No shops have been exempt from the pandemic, so businesses must capitalize on Black Friday.
To help you do just that, we’ve put together a list of 12 strategies that will help you run a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale in 2020.
12 tips for a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020
1. Add live chat to your online store
The truth is that even if you have a physical location, you probably won’t be running a typical in-person shopping experience this year. This means that, for the vast majority of stores, your shoppers will be visiting you online.
This means that customers will have questions for you and will require an easy and, this is key, instant way of asking them. They:
- may not understand deals
- will want a clearer idea of what they’re spending money on
- will be interacting with your online store more than usual
And that’s where live chat comes in.
Adding live chat to your service is essential for the holidays, as it’ll help you build trust with your customers, offer the convenience of fast service, and show that you’re ready to answer any questions shoppers may have.
Live chat has historically had the highest CSAT ratings out of any customer support channel, so you don’t want to sleep on it.
Be sure to implement this now if you haven’t already, and make it visible on your website as soon as possible.
2. Retarget your site visitors
The conversions you’re most likely to land are the ones you’ve already made in the past.
Black Friday is an excellent opportunity to re-engage with past customers and site visitors and give them an incentive to revisit your shop.
There are several ways you can retarget these past customers, including on social media and through Google Display Network, Search, and Shopping. Take it one step further, and target them with the products they’ve previously added to their basket and advertise the new discount along with this.
Sending emails out to newsletter subscribers to notify them of your upcoming deals is also a tried and true strategy to attract visitors during BFCM.
If you want to target a broader audience, you can also engage with your social media followers by posting announcements in the days leading up to Black Friday. This serves the dual purpose of announcing your sale, but also showing followers it’s worthwhile to continue to follow you for similar sales and deals.
Both of these methods are extremely cost-effective, and because you’re re-engaging customers, you have a better chance of seeing a return on your marketing investment.
3. Treat your email like a live channel
When email first launched, it was anything but immediate. Instead, it mainly served as a convenient way to message back and forth with people online.
This convenience hasn’t gone anywhere, but the role of email has certainly changed.
It’s 2020 and 90% of consumers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question with “immediate” being defined as 10 minutes or less! That may sound outlandish, but when you consider the popularity of live chat, automated email responses, and SMS, this expectation doesn’t seem unwarranted.
To turn your email support into a real-time service, you’ll need reliable tools running on the backend.
For instance, it helps to have automated routing that directs questions to the proper support agent. You should also try to implement a priority system so that urgent messages don’t turn into lost sales.
4. Use your real estate to promote sales
The beauty of running an online shop is that you have complete control over when, where, and how your ads are displayed on your site.
Don’t be afraid of scaring off customers with a heavy-handed ad campaign. It’s Black Friday, which means that customers are looking for obvious ads to direct their attention.
Don’t underestimate the power of an announcement bar on your site. If you don’t have a native one built in, you can make use of one of the many apps that do this.
Placing an ad at the top of your website will set the tone for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Use it as a space to advertise your biggest and most exciting sale.
5. Prep your inventory
One thing that isn’t changing this Black Friday Cyber Monday is inventory preparations. The last thing you want is to under-stock a hot item or to over-stock an underperforming one.
The best way to make smart inventory decisions is to drill down on your sales over the past 6 months by category and style, as what consumers are spending money on has changed since the advent of the pandemic.
Along with the sharp increase in online sales brought on by the quarantine, the performance of various product categories has also changed dramatically.
Getting access to this data will prevent you from ordering things that are already out of stock or from ordering things your customers don’t want.
If you don’t have internal data on these changes yet, suppliers and competitors are the best places to turn to.
6. Give your FAQs a makeover
Due to increased demand, your customer support team is going to be much, much busier.
To offload the strain on your customer support team and to get information to your customers as quickly as possible, make the FAQ section of your website the best it’s ever been.
It should be:
- available in the footer for easy access
From there, ensure that it’s serving its purpose. Use it as a one-stop solution for questions about sizing, shipping, offers, availability, and most of all, returns.
The more info you put here and the better organized it is, the more problems you’ll prevent for your customers and your support agents.
7. Reward customer loyalty
Customers that have already had positive interactions with your brand are more likely to make purchases on Black Friday than those who haven’t. So reward these customers!
There are simple ways to do this, such as offering exclusive discounts and sales that won’t be available to the rest of your customers.
You can also reward your customer base by sending them updates on your Black Friday sales before the rest of your newsletter subscribers. This will not only announce the sale to your most important customers, but it will generate excitement as well. You can further segment this to VIP customers that have spent over a certain amount with you in the last year.
Early bird access is another great way to reward existing customers. The night before Black Friday, you can offer a handful of deals on items that are expected to sell out quickly to your mailing list.
8. Take advantage of influencer marketing
For the past few years, influencer marketing has been an excellent resource for ecommerce shops. With everyone stuck at home, though, the power of influencer marketing has risen to new heights.
People are drawn to social media figures now more than ever, which makes this marketing tool the most potent it’s been yet.
When looking for the right influencer for your Black Friday deals, you’ll want to find an influencer whose audience is aligned with your target customer.
Many influencers will detail which audiences they’re most effective at targeting, so be sure to get this information before you make your final decision.
9. Optimize your product pages
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also a good excuse to review your product pages. Go over each page, making sure that product photos, availability, and descriptions are all updated. This will help reduce returns, which you and your customers both want to avoid.
If you know that certain items may sell out during the upcoming rush, make sure you have an option for shoppers to sign up to be notified when they come back in stock. This also beefs up your mailing list.
You can also use this as an opportunity to build on the work you’re doing with your FAQ page.
For instance, if you sell clothes and know that customers are going to have lots of questions regarding sizing, incorporate this directly into your product pages.
Try to show off your clothes using models and have the models’ info (such as height) displayed with their photos.
10. Don’t just make sales – grow your audience
For businesses, Black Friday serves as a great way to push inventory all at once and to give your sales a massive annual boost. Inevitably, though, this surge of business fizzles out and returns to normal before New Year’s has even rolled around.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can use Black Friday and Cyber Monday as an opportunity to not only make sales but grow your audience, too. Use the increased traffic on your website to push your newsletter sign-ups and collect as many emails as possible. Motivate visitors to sign up with the promise of exclusive and early access to sales and events, perhaps a 10% off discount code, or something else to sweeten the deal.
11. Have a backup plan for your backup plan
When you have a massive influx of customers, the smallest issues can quickly get out of hand. Whether it’s someone having trouble processing a payment, not being able to use a discount code, or struggling to cancel an order, these events can all slow down your support team and distract from making sales.
To avoid this, have contingency plans in place for these errors ahead of time.
Additionally, test everything:
- ensure your server can handle huge spikes in traffic,
- try to break your payment system, and
- have your team run through the scripts for every potential problem you can think of.
12. Implement a flexible and simple return policy
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of your return policy on Black Friday. It performs two functions that are vital to your holiday sales success:
First, the easier your return policy is for your customers, the easier it will be for your staff. And since you can expect returns to peak during this time, “ease” is the name of the game.
Second, having an obvious and flexible return policy will give shoppers more confidence in your business.
Many Black Friday purchases are made impulsively, and in order to capitalize on this, give shoppers the reassurance that comes with a flexible and easy to understand return policy.
Make 2020 your best Black Friday yet
Customer support can make or break your Black Friday in an online-first world. Following these tips and ensuring your team is prepared for the upcoming onslaught is key to hitting those high sales targets. Remember, when your team feels supported, they can better support your customers.