How to Build Your Black Friday eCommerce Strategy
The holidays are right around the corner and experts have projected that consumer spending will total around $17 billion between Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year.
This tells us a few things, namely that the pandemic has not slowed the fairly consistent year over year holiday shopping growth rate (although the way people shop may have changed), and that the time to prepare for the holidays is right now. Especially since, according to one survey, 66% of shoppers plan to complete their holiday shopping as early as possible this year.
Building the right Black Friday eCommerce strategy depends on the specifics of your business, so rather than suggest that every organization should take the same approach, we’re going to provide a list of activities that you can use as a baseline, and you can choose the most important tasks based on your team’s needs and experience.
Secure More Successful Sales with These eCommerce Sales Tactics
The secret to landing more Black Friday eCommerce sales isn’t a secret - you need to take advantage of every opportunity to encourage your customer’s journey to successful completion: a sale. In our experience, many brands aren’t fully utilizing their B2C eCommerce websites, social media accounts, and other means of communication. Others fail to convey a sense of urgency when presenting their sales or products or highlight discounts that could increase sales. By using the below list, you can think through and plan ahead so you don’t miss out on sales that may have been as simple as giving the customer one more nudge.
Prepare Your Black Friday eCommerce Strategy Early
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the way people shop, but you can still utilize and leverage information from the past to determine what you need to do in the future, especially around the time of the holiday rush. You can take note of historical lead times, stocking trends, and more to predict how you’ll stock and prepare for the holiday season. Other reasons to start strategizing now:
- Consumers are planning ahead this year to avoid delays from supply chain disruptions
- Work with suppliers now to minimize lead times on popular items
- Create buzz via e-mail and social media around the products you think will sell best.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile
Hopefully, you’ve already done this but, if not, it’s key to remember that more and more people are making purchases from their mobile phones and smart devices. In fact, last year, mobile shopping, or m-commerce accounted for 40% of all online Black Friday sales, a 25% YoY increase from 2019.
Mobile shoppers will not make a purchase if they is an issue with the compatibility of their phone and your site, so we strongly suggest you optimize your site for mobile as soon as possible! Here are a few ways to make your site more mobile-friendly:
- Make sure your site loads quickly on smart devices
- Size text and buttons appropriately for easy use on smaller screens
- Use a responsive eCommerce platform for simple cross-device friendliness
- Take advantage of free tools like Google Search Console to quickly identify areas of improvement
- Ensure the products in the shopping cart stay intact if the shopper switches from their computer to their mobile device.
Leverage SEO and Social Media
Don’t underestimate the power of a strong SEO (search engine optimization) or social media outreach for your holiday sales strategy. While getting the search engines to work in your favor is an intricate, labor-intensive task, it’s a regularly recommended tactic that could potentially yield significant results. Likewise, your social media campaigns don’t have to go viral to bring in sales or get people interested in your brand.
To make it even easier to manage your SEO, social media, and even email marketing, you can also take advantage of eCommerce marketing tools to increase your visibility and connect with your customers.
Countdown The Holidays
To capture eCommerce sales in a competitive landscape, you need to drive a sense of urgency for your customers to buy. You already know to emphasize sales that are for a limited time only, but during the holidays, it’s also important to tell customers your ship-by deadlines! If they want a gift to arrive on time, they’ll know the time to buy is now.
Make sure to implement your countdown in more than one place on your eCommerce storefront:
- Include countdown timers in your marketing collateral
- Create a countdown banner for your website home page
- Show countdowns and limited-time offers on product search pages, and individual product pages
- Display shipping and discount deadlines in the shopping cart to encourage immediate checkout
Create Compelling Product Pages
Online shoppers can’t physically handle every product. Your photos and descriptions are everything to the e-consumer, and you need to make them sing. In other words, you need to present the highest quality content on every single product page so that the customer can imagine how that product will solve a problem of theirs or perhaps how it would make a great gift for a loved one. Nobody wants to buy a gift for someone if it’s poorly represented with one or two low-quality photos and a lackluster description.
For a great product content experience, keep these tips in mind:
- Unique, descriptive titles and product descriptions give consumers the details they need to make a purchase
- Images and videos substantially increase conversion rates
- Technical specifications are crucial to include, especially for items like consumer electronics
If you want an edge in this category, especially if your business is managing hundreds or thousands of product lines, a PIM (product information management) solution might help you organize and optimize your product content.
Supercharge Your Shopping Carts
Your shopping cart can do more than sit in the upper right-hand corner of your website. For example, an always on-screen cart option shows consumers what they’ve selected so far no matter where they navigate to on your site. That’s one less thing to click when it’s time to follow through with their purchase. Since the US Chamber of Commerce reports that brands lose 23% of customers by having too many steps before checkout, the more you can streamline, the more you can sell.
You can also use features like single-click reordering or upsell overlays to encourage larger order sizes. Does the customer have a tennis racquet in their cart? Maybe they’d like tennis balls, too. Don’t forget shipping incentives like free shipping thresholds; plenty of customers are willing to spend a few extra dollars to forgo shipping charges.
Sell Transparently - Calculate Shipping and Taxes Automatically
Consumers are also used to seeing their order’s shipping and taxes calculated automatically prior to or at the checkout screen. In fact, one of the benefits of shopping online is that you can see exactly how much you’re spending as opposed to grabbing items in physical stores that may or may not have reliable tags on or near them. It’s important to prevent any surprises, most of all at the checkout screen.
Automate Order and Shipping Confirmation Emails
I’ll just say it: Amazon has set people’s expectations pretty high for retail platforms, and one feature that has become standard is automated order emails. Providing transparency into the order and shipping processes is an important step for establishing trust with your brand, as I’ll discuss further below. Creating a workflow to support this may be as simple as implementing the right comprehensive eCommerce platform. And while many eCommerce solutions offer automated emails, integrated eCommerce can make this process even faster by connecting your website to your backend systems.
Bonus Tip: You can also automate post-purchase emails to solicit reviews, or show customers related items they may want to buy!
Enhance the Customer Delivery Experience
As important as it is to make sales, failure to build out your strategy beyond the sale, specifically when it comes to the customer’s fulfillment experience, creates a lopsided plan that can potentially leave buyers unsatisfied. It’s crucial that you follow through with solid fulfillment practices to increase customer satisfaction, reduce returns, and prevent poor online reviews that might damage your reputation.
Customize How You Track Inventory
Transparency is key to building customer trust. By creating the right workflow for tracking inventory in your business, you can make sure the information on your product page is accurate. This keeps your customers from thinking something is available when it’s not or unavailable when it’s actually available. Not only does it promote good customer service, but it also allows you to keep track of inventory sold in bundles or as gift sets without any additional hassle.
The right inventory solution can also provide real-time updates relating to:
- Backordered items
- Out of stock items
- When items will restock
- Discontinued items
These distinctions are important to a transparent interaction with your brand and they help to avoid otherwise frustrating situations. Customers can also sign up for stock email or SMS updates so they can be notified when a merchant updates their stock.
Keep Fulfilment Fast and Accurate
Creating an optimally efficient fulfillment workflow can be achieved with the right shipping solution, one that allows your business to ship orders more quickly through automated processes. For example, you can fulfill orders more efficiently by auto-filling information into labels and carrier documents like ASNs, printing labels faster, processing large orders quickly (with batch processing), and implementing standardized packing and shipping. Some solutions include address and packing verification so you can rest assured your business is making accurate deliveries, which cuts shipping lead times, reduces costs, and eliminates errors and returns.
Go Beyond Black Friday
Lastly, I want to encourage you to not overlook the momentum of the holiday rush beyond Black Friday, especially as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are gaining more traction than ever. As you create your strategy for Black Friday, keep these days in mind, as well, and don’t miss out on sales you could have made from a bit of planning for the following Saturday and Monday.
Get Ahead of the Rush, Please Your Customers, and Beat Your Competition
The best time to prepare for Black Friday and the holiday rush is now. With all of the tools and data at your disposal and a little bit of planning, you could make this your brand’s best year yet. If you need help getting ahead of the holiday rush with the right solutions and expertise, contact us today.
About the Author: Steve Norris is the VP of Pre-Sales Engineering, Supply Chain Collaboration, at TrueCommerce. He is responsible for helping engineer solutions that allow small to enterprise businesses more efficiently and effectively collaborate with their supply chain partners and expand their sales channels. With over 15 years of supply chain experience ranging from consulting to sales, Steve helps organizations looking to achieve growth and profitability through providing solutions that allow seamless connectivity to customers, suppliers, channels, and systems.