This is a special guest contributor post by Emily Garcia, a business development manager at Skubana.

If you own an online shop, we are moving into the part of the year in which your operation has an opportunity to make large amounts of revenue due to events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Festive season. As these days provide customers with an opportunity to purchase goods that are seen as gifts or they believe that they are getting a good deal it is important to remember that this period of time also can become chaotic if not managed well.

Who will ever forget Amazon being unable to ship Festive Season purchases to customers in 2013. The opportunity for things to go wrong on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is high as large amounts of customers will be looking for good deals to purchase online.

For US based businesses,Black Friday is becoming a very important day as online sales totaled $3.34 billion and Cyber Monday ended up at  $3.45 billion in 2016. In both cases the sales totals showed significant growth in comparison to 2015 sales. Black Friday is on November 24 2017 and Cyber Monday is 27 November.

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Source: USA Today

So how do you ensure a smooth Black Friday & Cyber Monday experience?

Planning

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”,  Alan Lakein. In order to have a successful Black Friday & Cyber Monday, you should have already starting planning for those 2 days. If you have not, then you need to start planning immediately.

The questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • What products am I able to get sales from without giving all my profit margin to customers?
  • Do I need to speak to my suppliers or brands to get better deals on sale worthy products?
  • Am I 100% sure that my website will be able to handle a large increase in traffic and visitors?
  • What content do I need to create for those 2 days? Facebook, Instagram and Google advertising copy
  • Do I need to create new marketing creative (images with catchy promotional detail)?

Selection of discounted products

When you are planning your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions or campaigns it is important to ensure that your selection of products that will be promoted to a customer are relevant. By relevant I mean that the products are those which customer use or need refills for. Nothing is more aggravating to a customer than going to an ecommerce website on Black Friday and seeing irrelevant products that have inflated pricing. Shop owners like yourself have between 1-2 seconds after page load to provide the customer with a reason to buy the products that you have selected for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. Black Friday and Cyber Monday also provides an opportunity to sell end of line items and clear your warehouse of products that are taking space unnecessarily.

Tip: Ensure that you do not forget about Cyber Monday when planning your sales strategy. Keep in mind that when a customer purchases an item from you on Cyber Monday that you need to remind them of your Cyber Monday sale.

Technology

According to Fortune, every year, some poor retailer’s web site buckles under the weight of heavy Black Friday or Cyber Monday traffic, depriving it of sales on a major shopping weekend.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday outages as experienced by Macy’s in 2016 hurts the impact of your business to generate revenue and negatively impacts the perception of your brand in the eyes of new and existing customers. Your website is the vessel that customers access to purchase products from your store – if the store is unavailable due to technical issues your customers will leave your website and potentially comment in a negative manner about your business on social media.

Things to ensure:

  • Consider checking with your hosting provider whether they can provide options to solve a spike in visits to your shops.
  • If your business is run on a solution like Shopify or BigCommerce ensure that you follow their recommendations for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • When sending out email newsletters regarding your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions consider staggering them in a manner to ensure that the amount of visitors to your website is gradual and not an immediate large amount of traffic to your website.

The chart below from catchpoint compares the document complete time of the best performing sites with those that had performance issues during the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016.

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Source: Catchpoint

Fulfillment

Once the customer has purchased the product from your store try and ship as fast as possible to them within reason. Shipping timelines should already be communicated to your customers via your marketing communications but with Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases, the quicker those are in the hands the better the impression the customer will have of your business.

Also ensure that you clearly communicate return policies regarding items purchased on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is yet another way in which your after sales service leads to a better perception from new and existing customers.

In Summary

As daunting as Black Friday and Cyber Monday may seem if properly executed it can become a starting point for customer relationships. It is quite okay to feel that your business operation is a bit stretched in comparison to other days of business as Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide a significant opportunity for revenue creation.

Keep in mind that once customers have purchased from your store and have provided you with consent to market to them via newsletter you are able to create recurring revenue potentially without additional online marketing costs.

Ensure that you communicate with your customers who have purchased items from your store during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This should already be done but new customers who found your business through word of mouth marketing from friends or who have never purchased from your store are all potential long term customers.

If you plan, ensure that your selection of products for Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaign are enticing, it will lead to pressure on your technology stack (servers etc). Ensuring that your business is ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a vital step in having a smooth Black Friday & Cyber Monday experience.

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