The 5-day period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday is the biggest holiday sale season in the United States, with over 200 billion USD up for grabs. Black Friday and Cyber Monday (in short, BFCM or Cyber Week) can become a weekend bonanza for online retailers all over the world if they plan it correctly.
This post is here just in time to help eCommerce companies gear up for the upcoming festive sales. We will discuss how ecommerce companies can prepare their stores for increased demand, fulfill orders promptly during peak times and learn from these experiences.
Let’s begin by discussing why BFCM is so important for online sellers.
2) What is BFCM?
BFCM stands for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, observed annually on the Friday right after Thanksgiving to the following Monday in the United States. It was identified as a phenomenon in the 1960s owing to hoards of people rushing to the stores to start their Christmas and New Year’s shopping.
It was only later in the 1980s when shopkeepers began noticing significant sales during this period, that Black Friday became famous as the biggest shopping day in the US. Cyber Monday, on the other hand, was introduced much later in the 2005s due to the popularity of ecommerce and online shopping.
This year Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales kick off from 25th November 2022 to 28th November 2022. Together, this period, from the day after Thanksgiving to the following Monday, is known as Cyber Week. It is among the most sought-after shopping periods because brands and online retailers offer huge discounts.
3) Why Do Black Friday and Cyber Monday Matter for Online Store owners?
Research shows more than 180 million people all over the United States spend an average of 818 USD during BFCM. The difference it can make to your shop’s bottom line is noteworthy.
Besides boosting your revenues, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great times to clear out slow-moving inventory or dead stock. The rush to grab lightning deals can help move surplus items faster and bring you some profits.
Moreover, the popularity of BFCM in the US has spilled over into the UK, Canada, and Australia, where more and more online merchants are hopping onto the bandwagon. This means stiff competition and broader opportunities to make the best impression on shoppers.
4) When Should Ecommerce Companies Start Preparing for BFCM?
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday do not start before the latter end of November, it is the biggest holiday sales event of the year. So the earlier you start, the better. If you haven’t started getting ready for BFCM, do it now!
Trust us. When BFCM starts, you won’t know what hit you. So it’s time to go over all the nitty-gritty details, deck up your website and prepare for the influx of orders come sale season.
5) Getting Your Store Ready for The Black Friday Cyber Monday Sale Season
5.1) Budgeting and Manufacturing
Ecommerce companies looking to participate in the BFCM event know demands will spike. If you sell 200 pieces of merchandise every day, BFCM will triple it. This means planning well in advance just how much you want to sell each type of product (because that’s just as important) and the budget allowances you’re willing to make.
Since Black Friday and Cyber Monday fall under Q4, many merchants reserve a big section of their demand-driven spending towards the latter quarter of the year. This is an excellent way of using the full potential of your funds without going over budget.
With manufacturing somewhat sorted, it’s time to think about where you’ll store all the products you have made or sourced. Sale shoppers will not tolerate wait times for order processing. Therefore, everything you want to sell must be manufactured, stored, and ready to go. Most sellers use warehouses or storage units to stock items but if you have other cost-effective options, go for it.
5.2) Keeping Track of Stock
Keeping stocks updated in real time is crucial to providing the best eCommerce customer experience. But how do you track which products and sizes are ‘sold out’ with the sudden surge of online traffic?
It pays to anticipate a few things in advance. Like, what will you do when your items sell out? How will you inform customers that the size or product they ordered is no longer available?
It’s essential to keep customers in the loop to prevent the possibility of losing out on a potential sale. Encourage past visitors to wishlist items as Black Friday and Cyber Monday draws closer. You can also send interested shoppers ‘Remind Me’ or ‘Back in Stock’ emails to bring them back to your store.
We suggest using inventory management software to handle stock levels while you focus on selling. Inventory or warehouse management systems keep inventories live and reduce supply chain issues.
5.3) Optimising Website for Heavy Traffcic
The Black Friday weekend is the busiest sale season for any ecommerce store. Before the day of, check whether your website is equipped to handle vast amounts of people trying to buy stuff.
Too much footfall can bog any website down, but you can’t afford to lose precious customers during downtime.
Talk to your host beforehand and ensure everything works well. You can also try test servers to check your store’s navigation system and performance.
5.4) Customising the Look and Feel of the Store
One of the best ways to get the word out about your Black Friday Cyber Monday deals and discounts is by changing your website’s look to match the theme. Bring on flashy ads displaying limited offers or add visual interest with creative hero banners and gamification like ‘Spin-the-Wheel,’ etc.
The best part, it isn’t complicated. Some free software like Canva and Easil can create designs to die for instantaneously. If that doesn’t work, your in-house graphic designer can help you!
Also, if you plan to offer only a section of your store on the BFCM sale, consider creating a separate landing page with all the items. You can customize that page to your liking and make it easily navigable for visitors.
5.5) Ad and Email Marketing Campaigns
A month before Black Friday Cyber Monday, it’s time to focus on marketing campaigns to build customer engagement. Think about where you want to promote your website. If you ask us, we’ll say, everywhere. But that’s hardly realistic.
Sketch your ad copy with relevant keywords for your target audience and promote it on Facebook and Instagram. For email marketing campaigns, stick to copy that resonates with repeat customers, add value to the time they spend reading your email, and you will have a convert.
Remember to use valuable and relevant subject lines to avoid ending up in spam.
Another reason you should start advertising as early as October is that ads will become more expensive as the Black Friday Cyber Monday event gets closer. This may lead you to dig into budgets from other spheres. Calculate ad budgets in advance.
5.6) Testing Your Site’s Mobile-Friendliness
Did you know that 42% of BFCM sales last year came from mobile devices? And 69% of people discovered things online while lazily scrolling through their mobiles? If your website is not mobile-friendly, it needs to change now.
How mobile-friendly should your website be? Your landing pages should be fully visible, aligned, and easily scrollable on any mobile device. All links should be clickable, and payment gateways must be active. Not to mention, your website should not lag or glitch when performing too many tasks together. In short, your website should be as hassle-free as possible, or your customers will leave.
Keeping in mind the ease of access, many ecommerce brands have launched their mobile apps. They are infinitely faster and more conducive for mobile shopping. You can either build a mobile app of your own or optimize your website for mobile browsing.
5.7) Planning Discounts
The success of Black Friday Cyber Monday largely depends on the deals and discounts you plan for customers. Yes, execution and smooth running are equally important, but can’t-miss discounts are what bring shoppers to your doorstep.
A few things to consider when creating deals- Will you offer discounts on everything in your store? What is your highest-selling item? How can you make sales more enticing for your customers? How much discount can you offer without affecting your profit margins?
The goal is to increase your average order value while giving customers the best deals possible. Think, order bundles, Buy One Get One (BOGO), or free shipping over a specific threshold for a sales boost.
5.8) Retargeting Past Customers
Your past customers are more likely to hit your store when the BFCM sales open. So, send them personalized messages on phones and emails listing items from the Black Friday Cyber Monday event selection that match their previous buying behavior.
Thoughtful gestures like these make your customers feel special and unique. The way you retarget past visitors and repeat customers can hugely impact post-purchase customer experience and customer retention rates.
6) 9 BFCM Best Practices for Soaring Ecommerce Sales
6.1) Integrate Live Chat to Your Store and Provide 24/7 Customer Support
You want to provide your customers on casual shoppers with the best customer service to smoothen their shopping experience. With the influx of new customers, your store will likely get many support tickets. The trick to converting them to loyal customers is constant customer care.
Integrating live chatbots will ensure that common customer requests like product and shipping queries are answered in real-time. This way, your customer support team will remain free to address questions that need one-on-one interaction.
6.2) List Correct Product Descriptions and Images
Whether it's Black Friday Cyber Monday sale season or not, it is paramount to add correct product information and images. Wrong product descriptions can wreak havoc, especially during peak sales. To avoid unnecessary returns and support tickets, check product descriptions before putting them on sale.
If you sell apparel or fashion accessories, ensure the size chart is in order. Product misinformation can hamper customer experience and discourage customers from ever buying from your online store again.
6.3) Make Discounts Significant and Straightforward
To bring customers knocking on your door, you need to ensure the discounts you offer are not run of the mill. After all, BFCM is the biggest sales event of the year, with people flocking to the internet to buy gifts for friends and family. Your deals need to reflect that.
Black Friday Cyber Monday discounts are as high as 40%. Check whether your business can afford such high discounts and which products are most likely to give you the bang for your buck.
That said, deals and discounts shouldn’t be hard to figure out. Keep discounts consistent from the product page to the checkout. For example, do not show a 25% discount on the product page if you are going to add the shipping fees later during checkout. Such inconsistency leads customers to believe they are in for a bad deal.
6.4) Study Your Competitors
All the big ecommerce companies participate in BFCM. This means your competition is much higher than normal. The best way to stay ahead is to study the room.
What are your competitors doing differently? How massive are their offers? Are they offering better product bundles? What about shipping costs? What products are selling most on their website?
Checking out all these factors and more will help you fine-tune your strategy even during Cyber Week.
6.5) Send Real-Time Order Tracking Updates to Customers
Sending live order tracking updates to customers is especially crucial during the festive season because most orders, like gifts, are time-sensitive. Shoppers want to know where their orders are and how soon they will get them.
It also helps to provide accurate estimated delivery dates on the product page so that buyers can make an informed decision and don’t flood your customer care with WISMO calls.
Order status notifications can be sent to customers’ phones via SMS, WhatsApp, and emails. Opt for personalized status messages to make them feel valued and important.
6.6) Set up Google Analytics
If you’ve not already set up Google Analytics for your business to measure the effectiveness of your products or marketing strategies, you’re losing out on potential buyers.
Now is the time to sync Google Analytics to your store to review Black Friday Cyber Monday sale performance after it's over. You can also set up heat maps to determine which pages and products get the highest number of clicks.
6.7) Choose the Right Order Fulfillment Solution
There’s no denying that BFCM is stressful for even the most experienced ecommerce sellers. Successfully fulfilling all those orders can be challenging if you don’t have a robust shipping and fulfillment plan.
Remember, your usual shipping strategy may not be the best to handle the influx of global orders you receive during the Black Friday weekend. Since timely order delivery is vital to the post-purchase customer experience, you must tie up with the best shipping carriers like FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, etc.
Next, check whether your shipping carriers can provide international delivery and how scalable their offers are. Lastly, consider opting for an advanced logistics intelligence platform over individual carriers. Such shipping software can manage many shipping tasks on your behalf at super pocket-friendly rates.
6.8) Offer Hassle-Free Returns
Returns are pretty standard during BFCM. to avoid being bogged down by returns, make them straightforward. Customers should be able to place return requests easily. This can be via a return link on delivery confirmation emails, tracking links, etc.
Most importantly, return policies must be easily accessible. Display them clearly on product pages, checkout, or banners. If you don’t offer returns on sale items, then make it explicit in the return policy. Check your return policy a few days before Cyber Week kicks off to ensure everything is correctly stated.
Easy returns are a sure-shot way to win customers' hearts. Offer free returns, and you’ll have a customer buying from you again and again.
6.9) Introduce Cross-selling and Upselling
Online sellers can turn a return into a confirmed buy by introducing upselling and cross-selling panels in their return portals. Deck up the returns page with featured products, limited-time offers, and wishlisted items to catch buyers’ attention. Research shows that most customers who land on branded returns pages buy one of the products listed there.
7) How to Leave the BFCM After Party with a Bang
7.1) Analyse your Data
Now that the Black Friday Cyber Monday rush is over, it’s time to check your analytics data. Figuring out what worked and didn’t is the biggest resource for nailing next year’s BFCM. Pay special attention to product types, participating age groups, your most preferred clothing/footwear sizes, and buyer locations.
7.2) Check out Customer Reviews
Many brands give customers the option of leaving reviews below items they bought. This is an excellent way to get customer feedback without too much hassle. If your store doesn’t have that provision, try out other ways, like sending customer feedback forms via emails or exciting new deals, etc. Customer reviews can give you a clear picture of what they like best and why.
7.3) Start a Loyalty Program
You want to continue creating value for the customers who bought from your shop during Black Friday Cyber Monday. How do you do that? Create a loyalty program and reward customers for their purchases. Investing in loyalty programs does not have to be too expensive, either. Start with small discount codes, promos, or member-exclusive deals.
7.4) Convert BFCM Shoppers with Personalised Emails
Making your customers feel special and valuing their time and money is what makes ecommerce retail unique. 71% of consumers say personalized messages make them emotionally invested in a brand and, therefore, more likely to buy from them. The power of personalization in ecommerce transactions cannot be overlooked. Stay in touch with personalized communications.
7.5) Consider BNPL and BOPIS
Following the previous point on personalization, offering BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) and BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In-Store) options show how much retailers value customers’ convenience.
These are the hottest ecommerce trends, and you should consider providing these options. Of course, BNPL and BOPIS need a functionally omnichannel system for proper execution. But if you sort out the supply chain and logistics snags, there’s nothing like BOPIS and BNPL to rake in customers.
7.6) Provide Several Payment Methods
Customers often leave the checkout page without completing the transaction simply because they couldn’t find their preferred payment method. This is a problem bigger than cart abandonment because here’s a fully converted shopper who left only because of a lack of options.
But it's a problem that’s easily solved. Tie up with as many payment providers as possible before the big day. Credit/Debit cards, bank transfers, RazorPay, PayPal, Sezzle, and more should be under your wing so that customers never leave again for a shortage of payment options.
7.7) Offer Early Access to Flash Sales and Seasonal Inventory
To build extra excitement around what’s on offer, provide early access to flash sales and seasonal inventory to your subscribers and repeat buyers. As they uncover the deals, they’ll spread the word and bring more customers to your online store.
Moreover, these buyers will understand the exclusive nature of the deal and be inclined to buy more. Ecommerce businesses can choose to keep their early access discounts relatively low and increase them as more and more customers visit.
7.8) Harness the Power of Social Commerce
Advertise on all major social media platforms, but especially Facebook and Instagram. These are great crowd-pullers. Post ads for your targeted audience if you want them to visit your store during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But that’s not all. If you genuinely wish to use social media, create a profile and regularly engage with your customers. From videos of influencers promoting your products to customer reviews, there’s much to gain from this platform.
8) How can ClickPost Help with Ecommerce Logistics and Shipping to Simplify the BFCM Season?
ClickPost is a multi-carrier shipping software that aids ecommerce businesses simplify their supply chain and shipping processes. But how will it help with BFCM?
ClickPost provides near-accurate EDDs (Estimated delivery dates) based on previous carrier performance, shipping information, and location, so customers know what to expect from the beginning. It also automatically allocates the best shipping carrier for a particular shipment. ClickPost has longstanding integrations with the best global carriers.
Shipping delays are common during peak seasons. With ClickPost, brands are notified of possible delays immediately so they can inform customers and manage expectations.
It also has a Shopify Returns app called ClickPost Returns Plus, where customers can place returns and state reasons for returning items. Order status notifications for reverse and forward shipments are sent to customers on WhatsApp, SMS, and email.
This way, ClickPost offers a one-stop solution for all Black Friday Cyber Monday logistical needs.
Managing Black Friday Cyber Monday sales is a logistics nightmare for all ecommerce companies. A lot needs to be done, from order processing to AWB generation and shipping. But the profits are that much nicer.
We hope our detailed guide to BFCM ecommerce sales will help you chart out your plans for managing this humongous shopping event. The Black Friday weekend is almost upon us, and there’s no time to waste.
Remembering the tips we shared above on handling BFCM before, during, and after will help you bring in the most significant sales of the season. All the best!