Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is one of the best times of the year for your eCommerce business to make some serious money—and even more so this year than last year.
In 2016, the total online sales from Thanksgiving Day through the Sunday after Thanksgiving was $9.36 billion, while Cyber Monday brought in $3.45 billion. Together, Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday online sales accounted for $12.8 billion. And this year, consumer spending for Black Friday weekend is predicted to increase by 47% from 2016, with shoppers planning to spend an average of $743 compared to only $505 last year.
Like any eCommerce business, you want some of that money. You want to capture as many of those annual 131 million Black Friday shoppers as you can. Trying to can be hard and stressful, though. But, it’s only hard and stressful if you’re not prepared.
Here are 8 things to do before Black Friday and Cyber Monday to make sure this weekend is a profitable one for your store.
1. Start right now.
Customers are looking for deals now. They’re researching upcoming sales so they can have a plan going into Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They want to know exactly what’s going on sale, when it’s going on sale and where the best deals are. In fact, some have been looking for this information for a couple of weeks already.
Every year, about 40% of customers start their holiday shopping before Halloween. And it makes sense. People want to spread out the spending, so they start sooner than the month before Christmas.
What does this mean for you? Don’t wait until the week of Thanksgiving to start your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and promotions. Start planning your sales, emails and advertising today, so you can get the word out about your sales a couple of weeks before these big online spending days arrive. You might even consider starting your actual sale a few days or a week before Black Friday to get a leg up on the competition. Don’t be running around at the very last minute like a turkey with his head cut off to take part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
2. Prepare for increased demand.
As a retailer, your goal should always be to meet the demand of your customers. In this case that means having enough inventory and site server capacity to handle the surge of shoppers you’ll experience.
With products, be sure you have enough on hand to ship out, and if you happen to run out, ensure there’s a way for customers to pre-order or get notified when products are back in stock. Another significant step to take before Black Friday is testing your site. Make sure your website is able to handle tons of traffic so it doesn’t overload the server and crash your site on these two heavy online shopping days. A crashed site = no sales and angry shoppers.
3. Create a mobile-friendly shopping experience.
If you aren’t already, you need to have a mobile-first mindset with your site. According to last year’s data, mobile accounted for $1.2 billion of total online Black Friday sales.
You should plan for lots of mobile shoppers, which means understanding mobile site speeds, your checkout process on mobile if it’s different than on desktop and what your home and product pages look like on mobile.
To create the optimum mobile shopping experience, design all your product pages and your home page with mobile in mind. When first designing or making a change to anything on your site, like adding holiday-themed headers and hero images (another good idea for this holiday weekend), always look at it on mobile view before making that design change. Also, keep in mind that a good mobile shopping experience means your site’s content is easy to consume and makes purchasing easy.
4. Get all your emails in order.
Your email list is one of your biggest assets. But in order to send emails announcing your upcoming sale, emails notifying consumers when a product they wanted is back in stock or cart abandonment emails you have to get people’s emails before they purchase.
Typically, companies use the old pop-up pre-purchase email capture solution. But customers don’t like this in-your-face solution. It’s really a problem causer not a solution. Instead, use more courteous ways to ask for emails, like having a top bar or sidebar box asking visitors to sign up for your newsletter or putting a small pop-up box at the end of a blog post.
5. Utilize cart abandonment emails.
I eluded to this in the above point, but if you don’t already, you need to use cart abandonment emails to try and get more sales. Cart abandonment emails are one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your cart abandonment rate down and your conversions up.
Last year’s average cart abandonment rate in North America for Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend was 68.3%. But on a more positive note, cart abandonment emails used during this weekend in 2016 had an average conversion rate of 17.6%.
6. Add retargeting pixels on site pages to retarget customers.
If you plan on using paid advertising, like Google AdWords or Facebook ads, then you really need to place retargeting pixels on your site, specifically on select product pages. These tracking pixels allow you to retarget to customers who look at certain products with a specific online ad from the product or page they visited.
To learn how to tag your site for remarketing with Google, check out its AdWords Help Manage Ads page, or visit the Facebook pixel business page to help you set up Facebook tracking pixels.
7. Track your competitors.
Another thing worth tracking is your competition. And the best way to see what they’re up to, besides of course heading over to their site, is subscribing to their email lists. This lets you see what kind of email campaigns they have, how often they’re sending emails and what kind of sales they’re doing. You can also keep tabs by setting up Google alerts on their sites.
This tip isn’t an excuse for you to copy your competitors. But it is a way to learn more about your competition and get ideas to better yourself and your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
8. Integrate live chat.
Customer service is one key to a profitable holiday season. Besides courteous responses, customers also want an easy and quick way for you to answer their questions. Live chat on your site lets you do all of the above.
If you’re looking for even more helpful tips on how to have a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday, check out our post where we review four ways to drive more traffic to your site during this long holiday weekend.