Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer an amazing opportunity for your e-commerce business to make some extra money. They have rapidly become two of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is widely regarded as the day Christmas shopping officially begins. Cyber Monday, as the name suggests, was created by the US National Retail Federation as a way to get more people shopping online.
If you make the right preparations, you can enjoy some major profits over the Black Friday Cyber Monday season. Once again, e-commerce looks set to outstrip brick-and-mortar retail, meaning there’s everything to play for. We’ve put together a planner to help you get ready.
Step 1: Get started now
It may seem a way off, but it’s never too soon to start planning your BFCM campaign. Keen customers will start their online research earlier than you may expect. It pays to prepare for holiday sales in advance – and to start letting your customers know about it so that when the time comes, they think of you.
Each year, around 40% of customers start planning their holiday shopping in October. Not only do you need to get your website ready, you also need to ensure that early shoppers on the lookout for gifts are able to find your products easily online. It pays to plan your sales ahead of time to save any rushed last-minute decisions.
If you don’t have an online store yet, it’s still not too late to start selling in time for BFCM. Drag and drop website builders let you create an e-commerce store in a matter of hours or days, depending on the scale of the project. Or you could start with an existing website and get up and running right away.
Step 2: Optimize your products
The majority of holiday shoppers still haven’t decided exactly what they’re going to buy, so it’s up to you to ensure that your products make the cut. If you’ve run a BFCM campaign before, you’re already one step ahead, as you can analyze the sales data to see what worked and make changes.
Make sure your written product descriptions convey a sense of urgency; you want to remind people that the bargain shopping window is small. Adding phrases like ‘limited time only’ and ‘only one left’ will help. Consider adding specific Black Friday and Cyber Monday mentions, so shoppers know it’s part of the BFCM deal.
Finally, conduct your own keyword research to find niche BFCM-related keywords for your products. Tools like KeywordTool.io and Ubersuggest have free versions you can use. This will help to boost your store’s SEO and make you more visible in holiday search results.
Step 3: Offer great customer service
One way that you can play to your strengths as an e-commerce store owner is to offer a personal and helpful shopping experience, topped up with outstanding customer service. First off, consider integrating live chat into your website. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, being easily accessible to your customers is crucial. If they have a question, you should be able to answer it for them almost right away.
You’ll likely get more questions now than at any other time of year. Time is of the essence—if shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for, they will simply shop elsewhere. Being courteous and respectful is also key. You may find that some people are rude or impatient; this doesn’t mean you should act in kind.
Consider saving some canned responses in your email service to save time. If you’re getting a lot of the same questions over and over, you may want to add an FAQs section to your website so customers can find these answers for themselves.
One final tip: make returns easy and hassle-free. This will help to instill peace of mind and make the shopping experience more enjoyable.
Step 4: Make a decision about shipping costs
How will you approach shipping charges over the BFCM period? Some merchants continue to charge shoppers delivery fees, while others choose to drop them completely. It’s worth bearing in mind that most online shoppers expect free delivery as part of the deal.
Offering free shipping can be tricky for some, especially if you’re already dropping your prices. However, the tradeoff is that you’ll get higher conversion rates. If it’s impossible for you to offer free shipping without losing money, consider offering a free gift with every BFCM purchase instead, to ramp up the ‘good deal’ factor.
On top of this, think about your contingency plan. This could be your busiest time of year. Are you equipped to deal with all the extra orders? Now is likely the time to do your research on shipping software to streamline your processes before the busy season.
Related reading: How to Make the Most of Free Shipping Day.
Step 5: Master your email strategy
In 2017, 74.5% of all carts were abandoned in the US – higher than anywhere else in the world. Naturally, you want to try and keep that percentage as low as possible. One of the easiest ways to combat cart abandonment is with abandoned cart emails. If a customer leaves an item in their basket for too long, they’ll get an email soon after, reminding them about it. Setting up abandoned checkout recovery is really easy if you use a web builder – most have a good selection of abandoned cart apps. Check out this guide for examples of how to write effective cart recovery emails.
This is also the ideal time to embrace retargeting – approaching your previous customers with new, exciting deals. Offer them special treatment by inviting them to access exclusive early discounts. Keep an eye on your open rate – the average open rate in B2C retail is 25%.
Lastly, watch your competition to ensure you stay ahead. Keep tabs on what your competitors are up to by subscribing to their email lists and studying their approach. Is there anything they are doing that could work for you?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping dates in the calendar. Naturally, this makes them highly competitive. If you’re a small e-commerce operation, you may feel like it’s impossible to stand out. But by taking the right steps early on, you can reach the customers who are looking for the type of products and services you offer, and get your slice of the action.
ShippingEasy is here to help you streamline your shipping, so you can focus on increasing business on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Click the button below to try our platform FREE for 30 days and get going on your Black Friday Cyber Monday planning.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on e-commerce and how companies can improve the way they represent their brand. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands improve their reach.