It’s that time of the year when stores, physical and online, brace themselves for massive discounts and heavy foot traffic. Or since the advent of COVID-19, heavy website traffic.
It’s the weeks before the Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) long weekend.
While Black Friday 2020 was all about online shopping, Black Friday 2021 seems to offer a going-back-to-normal-offline-stores trend.
In fact, data by BlackFriday.com shows that 77% of 1,000 respondents were planning to visit a physical store during the BFCM weekend.
In addition, the decline in safety concerns against the coronavirus, along with previous months of lockdowns and many working from home more often, is creating a desire to go back to physical stores.
Less than 25% of survey respondents said they were concerned about safety and health when it comes to in-store shopping. (BlackFriday.com)
However, Black Friday isn’t just a day anymore. Wise store owners – and marketing managers – begin preparing for the long weekend weeks and months in advance.
After all, it’s one of the largest and most anticipated shopping events of the year!
In this article, we’re going to show you how to prepare your online store for BFCM with a series of easy-to-execute Black Friday tips.
Black Friday stats and forecasts
Although many physical businesses suffered in 2020 because of lockdowns, those who were able to take their business online may have found a refuge.
At the same time, 2020 helped the world adopt new buying habits.
Last year, nearly 15% of US consumers used grocery service delivery for the first time, with nearly 80% of the being happy with their experience and nearly 70% saying the experience was ‘enjoyable.’ (McKinsey and Company)
Now these businesses are able to come back strong and rise amidst their competition, a year-and-a-half after the emergence of COVID-19.
Despite hitting sales records last year, it seems there’s no slowing down for the volume of Black Friday sales this year.
Data by BlackFriday.com indicates that sales to be achieved during Black Friday Cyber Monday 2021 is likely to see an increase from the records achieved in 2020.
Black Friday 2021 sales are forecast to rise to 61% from 59% in 2020.
Criteo reports that Black Friday 2020 global sales surged 168% from October 2020. “The 2019 Black Friday spike was more pronounced, at +213%,” Criteo noted.
In terms of which countries have a bigger interest in Black Friday, data by Semrush shows the US was the top contender in 2020.
Here’s what the research showed in terms of year-on-year growth between Black Friday 2019 and 2020.
How customers prepare for BFCM
One of the interesting things about the Black Friday Cyber Monday holiday is how customers buy their products.
Almost everywhere in the world people are familiar with Black Friday (or White Friday as it’s called in some Arab countries) and the massive discounts associated with it.
But it seems impulsive buying is no longer a Black Friday trend. In fact, customers are regularly researching the products they need long before the discounts begin.
Data by Criteo found that “shoppers aren’t making impulse buys, but rather, researching their Black Friday purchases well in advance of the actual event.”
“On average, from first touchpoint to purchase, it takes a new customer two weeks in the US—and even longer in other countries—to make their Black Friday purchase decision.” – Criteo
This means that e-commerce businesses preparing their stores for Black Friday 2021 need to ensure that their marketing campaigns are prompting customers to visit their website before the 4-day sales holiday.
By having customers visit their websites and online stores before Black Friday Cyber Monday, these stores can “maximize sales on the big day,” Criteo stresses.
Here’s a breakdown of the Black Friday Cyber Monday path-to-purchase timeline by region:
Black Friday tips for your online store
By now, you’re familiar with how Black Friday 2020 fared along with the promising forecasts for Black Friday 2021.
You also have an idea about how customers prepare for the big holiday discounts.
This means it’s time to turn the attention to your online store so you can make the most of the remaining days before BFCM 2021.
In this section, we’ll offer 14 tips to ensure your e-commerce is in top-shape to receive your online customers.
Black Friday tips for marketing
1. Start Early. Start Now.
The sooner you start preparing your online store for the Black Friday weekend, the better.
After all, your customers are doing their own Black Friday prepping well ahead of their planned shopping.
Preparing your store for Black Friday means setting up your social media posts and ads, making your website announcements, and preparing your email marketing campaigns.
2. Retarget past and curious customers
Your advertising should include current and past customers. This means if you’re running social media ads, you should create retargeting campaigns.
These retargeting campaigns will attract past visitors to your site who may not have had a chance to buy from you before.
3. Reward loyal customers
If you have loyal and regular customers on your online store, be sure to give them a heads up about your upcoming Black Friday discounts.
You can do that by sending them an in-advance email and website pop-ups, and mentioning which items will be on sale.
You can also offer them an additional promo code to use to get 5% or 10% extra when their orders exceed a certain number or simply for being loyal customers.
4. Use BFCM to attract new customers and turn them into loyal ones
Black Friday is a great opportunity to not only increase your sales but also attract new customers.
A great way to do both attract and retain customers is to use a loyalty program.
And because this is a special time for store owners, Gameball is doing its own Cyber Monday sale. Instead of our usual 7-day free trial, we’re offering a 45-day trial for e-commerce stores that use our promo code CYBERMONDAY45 in the week starting Cyber Monday.
This promo code can be used via Shopify, WooCommerce, WordPress, Magento, or your website.
Black Friday tips for a better shopping experience
One of the biggest problems both online and offline stores face during the Black Friday weekend is the shopping experience.
This was even more pronounced pre-covid19. But it’s still a problem from many stores.
Online stores struggle with massive traffic arriving at their websites, whereas physical stores are often unable to keep up with physical traffic inside their stores.
Here are several Black Friday tips to ensure that your online store meets customers’ expectations and needs.
5. Ensure your site is ready to receive visitors
Your website will receive lots of traffic before and on Black Friday.
So make sure your servers and loading speed are ready for this kind of increased traffic.
6. Make sure your team is ready
You’ve ensured that your website is ready to receive visitors but is your team ready for the Black Friday crowds?
Make sure your online customer support team is available round the clock for the BFCM crowds.
Can’t afford a 24/7 team? Then use a chatbot. It’ll help customers with minor issues and can categorize complaints for your team to begin with the next day.
If you’re providing an omnichannel experience, that is if you have an online store and a physical one, make sure your front-line staff are ready before the heavy-traffic weekend.
7. Prepare your inventory ahead of the long weekend
There are many things that can go wrong during BFCM.
One of those is inventory glitches. You should expect some stocks to run out during the shopping holiday.
You can use a retail management system to organize all your sales and track your inventory.
8. Provide hassle-free returns
One of the top benefits you can offer to Black Friday shoppers is a hassle-free shopping and returns experience.
It’s not uncommon for shoppers to return products – especially ones they ordered online.
Whether they brought those items as gifts, discovered that the size doesn’t fit, or that someone else brought them the same item, there are many reasons why customers return products.
That’s excluding faulty products – of course.
A great way to offer a unique customer experience and increase customer lifetime value and retention is through hassle-free returns.
And BFCM is a great opportunity to offer that experience and build that trust.
Black Friday tips for higher sales
Now it’s time to focus on increasing your sales this Black Friday Cyber Monday.
9. Stay ahead and organize your sales
A great way to ensure higher revenues is to be ahead of the game. Remember the first point on this list? It said “Start early. Start now.”
The same applies when you’re preparing your products and services for the big weekend. Make sure you organize your sales process.
If you use email marketing, give customers an idea about what to expect.
If you’re running a series of sales like a sale on a certain category each day during the 4-day shopping holiday, then make the announcement before the day of the sale. Be sure to give your customers a couple of days to surf your website and get their needs.
That said, an alternative that gets you a spike in traffic includes flash sales and one-day sales.
Another good idea is to start selling early. Why wait till Black Friday to start unveiling those sales? Most of your competitors are getting creative with their offers.
As a store owner, you’ll have to experiment. This offers great insights for next year.
After all, Black Friday Cyber Monday is an annual event.
The important thing is to make a plan and follow it.
10. Offer perks to online buyers
If you have online and physical stores, a great way to boost your Black Friday sales is to encourage people to buy online.
This will reduce cramming in your physical store and give people an incentive to explore your online experience.
You can even use this opportunity to build an email list for future holidays, sales, and special events.
11. Have at least one major must-not-miss sale
A few stores have been experimenting with this option. It’s a Must-Not-Miss-Sale.
Run this sale on one of the top products your customers regularly like to buy. This is often considered a loss leader pricing strategy, where customers come through the door or arrive at your website to pick up that sale but leave with more purchases on the way out.
12. Decide on your shipping and delivery process for BFCM
One of the biggest problems customers detest about Black Friday Cyber Monday is delivery.
Black Friday often means delayed deliveries. And most customers are eagerly awaiting their newly-bought discounted products.
Stay ahead of the competition and offer a positive customer experience by organizing how shipping will work during BFCM.
Inform customers who are ordering online when they can expect their deliveries to arrive.
13. Ensure your checkout process is easy and fast
One of the top reasons customers don’t complete their purchase is because of stores’ long and tiring checkout process.
So make sure your checkout process isn’t like that. Make sure it’s easy, simple, and fast.
14. Offer multiple payment options
Although cashless payments are on the rise, there are new forms of payment that customers are taking to. These include buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options.
Consider integrating with local fintech businesses for BNPL and other cashless options.
This will allow you to expand your customer base by building on the fintech’s or BNPL firm’s base and at the same time give BNPL customers a reason to shop at your store.
If you serve different demographics, be sure to have cash-on-delivery as well. Many customers aged 65+ still prefer cash payments, while others prefer this payment method in the event of shipping problems.
Black Friday ideas and tips with Gameball
Now that you know how to prepare your online store for Black Friday, here are a few additional tips that you can do with Gameball.
Gameball is a customer retention, loyalty, engagement, and referral platform. We help store owners like you attract and retain customers.
And since BFCM offers various opportunities to attract new customers, here are several Black Friday tips you can do to increase traffic and retention.
– Double cashback for current customers
Use Black Friday to give your current customers, those who already know you and buy from you, the chance to feel special. How? With a double cashback rewards campaign.
A cashback reward is a type of reward where customers get the chance to have a cash discount on their next purchase.
If your customer Paul buys items worth $100 and they get a cashback reward of 5%, then they can get $5 off next time they buy from you.
Cashback rewards are quite popular and increase customer loyalty. The reason is customers view this type of reward as a way of getting their money back.
– Double-points on certain lines or days
Similar to the cashback idea, you can entice customers by doubling the points they earn when they buy or take actions on specific days, like BFCM.
With more points in their accounts or digital wallets, they can get more perks at a later time.
– Ask for referrals ahead of BFCM
Word-of-mouth marketing, known as referral marketing, remains one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to grow your customer base.
The reason is, customers trust their friends and family.
All you need to do is ask your customers to refer friends and family to your store ahead of the Black Friday weekend in exchange for points, badges, or additional discounts.
– Create a Black Friday challenge and badge
One of the coolest things about using Gameball is creating challenges and rewarding customers with special badges and points when they complete them.
Create a Black Friday challenge and get customers to participate.
Gameball challenges are a great way to engage customers.
Outside of BFCM, you can use challenges to increase traffic during slow days or get customers to share their progress or news about your store via social media in exchange for points.
Learn more about Gameball’s different types of challenges and what you can do with them via our Help Center.
And it’s a wrap!
You’ve made it till the end and you now have more ideas and tips to ensure your store is ready to receive customers, ensure a positive customer experience, and turn new and curious customers into loyal ones.
Don’t forget, Gameball is running a special one-time offer for one week starting Cyber Monday.
Use promo code CYBERMONDAY45 to get a 45-day trial and explore everything Gameball has to offer.
Want to explore those challenges we’ve mentioned? Then go ahead.
Want to what you can do with cashback rewards? Then give it a go with Gameball.
Start your 45-day trial with Gameball today!