Friday, 24th November will mark the return of Black Friday, the shopping mega-event that sees thousands of consumers in the US, UK and Ireland go online and in-store in the hope of getting a jump on their Christmas shopping or grabbing some unbeatable value deals for themselves. Three days later, on 27th November, shoppers will log on once again for Cyber Monday, the follow-up day of online sales, creating a shopping holiday event referred to as BFCM (Black Friday / Cyber Monday).
This year, retailers could be set for one of the most successful BFCMs of all time thanks to a recent lift in consumer spending. Visa’s Irish Consumer Spending Index, which measures expenditure across all payment types (cash, cheques, and electronic payments), signalled the fastest acceleration in consumer spending in six months in September.
It’s an exciting time for e-commerce retailers and if adequately prepared for, a highly profitable one. Here is everything you need to know to help your business capitalise on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Your BFCM planning starts at least two to three weeks before the event itself. It’s not just a matter of slashing prices, there are several items you need to check off your list before the shopping bonanza begins to make sure your sale season goes swimmingly.
— Pre-Awareness Campaign for Customers
— Inventory Preparation
— Creative Assets
— Sales Timetable
— Testing Site Durability
PRE-AWARENESS CAMPAIGN FOR CUSTOMERS
Both your existing customers and potential new customers will be doing their own planning for BFCM and will be researching deals beforehand, to find out where they should best spend their disposable income in late November. Take the following measures to ensure you have everything in place to convert their curiosity into sales.
Email Existing Customers
Design and send an email newsletter to your subscriber base, letting them know that you will be participating in BFCM this year. Give the dates and times that your sales will be in operation. It’s important to be specific here, particularly if you ship internationally and to different time zones. If you are new to email newsletters try an easy-to-use platform such as MailChimp.
Write up a Blog Post
You can also capture some organic searches on the topic of BFCM, by publishing a blog about the deals event on your website. You can include information about the deals you will be running and more general information about the history of Black Friday to create the richest content possible.
Leverage Social Media
Change your page’s profile photo / banner or simply create a post or tweet and pin it to the top of the page telling your visitors “Black Friday deals are coming soon”. On Facebook, you can promote your post a week earlier as part of an ad campaign to raise further awareness of your sale to fans of your page and a wider audience, thanks to Facebook’s diverse suite of targeting options.
In November the web will be littered with articles helping users find the best deals each day. Do a Google search for BFCM articles like these in newspaper sites and blogs from last year and then email a copy of your proposed deals to the journalist in question with a link to your online store.
Carefully plan your inventory in accordance with a sales strategy that suits your business. Maybe your plan is to sell five units of a big-ticket item at a loss to generate some publicity and bring users on site. Other stores may reduce their profit margin by 20% on all items or drop a portion of their inventory to cost price. Whatever you decide to do, do what makes sense for your business. You are not obliged to go into financial ruin just to keep your customers happy.
It’s important to give your designers (or yourself, depending on the size of your team) the time needed to pull creative assets together for your website and social channels. A temporary design overhaul that capitalises on a new colour scheme, or attention-grabbing images that feature prices being slashed can really help sell the occasion of BFCM to your customer and helps them feel like they are part of something exclusive. You can add a new column to your inventory spreadsheet ‘Creative Assets Required’ to help you manage the process.
TIME YOUR SALES
Depending on the size of your inventory and the number of items that you intend to offer at a lower price it could be worth your while to stagger your deals throughout the day, or across several days. This helps keep up momentum around your deals event while also taking the pressure off your website, reducing the risk of slow site speeds or a crash, due to a surge in website traffic.
Add start and finish times to your spreadsheet and do your best to ensure it is strictly adhered to especially if it has been distributed for PR purposes or made public on your social media channels. Keep the timetable on an internal drive so multiple teams can integrate their efforts, e.g., the marketing manager can plan social ads announcing deals, the design team can see which deals still need creative assets and so on.
TESTING SITE DURABILITY
In the lead up to BFCM, work with your developer to ensure your site can handle an influx of traffic around the sale period. Having reliable business broadband is one thing but, start to compile any data you have from November last year and make it available to your developer. If you’re using a managed retail platform like Etsy or Shopify, you can rest easy knowing they have dedicated teams making sure everything runs smoothly. Keep an eye out for newsletters or blog posts from these platforms that leverage the data findings of thousands of e-commerce sites to offer advice on getting the most out of their sites during peak shopping season.
It might sound like asking you to double-check your homework before handing it to your teacher, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to do a thorough once-over before you go live. The last thing you want is to discover that you’ve under-priced a big-ticket item by mistake and some lucky customer is getting away like a bandit. Use your spreadsheet to check that each item is listed correctly, subdividing the work if needs be and delegating to your site administrator, designer, and ads teams where possible.
Foe even more information and guidance on how to navigate Black Friday & Cyber Monday for your e-Commerce store click here.