Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still months away, but it’s never a bad idea to plan in advance for the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Adobe Analytics reports that Black Friday online sales surged almost 22% last year up to $9 billion, and this year looks to be no different.
Start generating buzz around your products and upcoming deals now so you can be top of mind when your customers are looking for the best sales. Also, make sure you give yourself enough time to test site functionality, hire additional help if needed, and get your inventory ready to go.
Here are some things to consider when preparing for the big weekend:
1. What are your goals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Offering discounts is common practice, but think about what you’re specifically looking to accomplish.
Want to clear some of your inventory? If so, consider running Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) sales. Free shipping or gifts that apply when customers spend a certain amount can also be great incentives — anything that encourages shoppers to buy more.
Do you want a greater average order value than last year’s holiday season? You can implement a few strategies on your site that increase your total revenue without finding a single additional customer.
How about reconnecting with existing or previous customers? Strategies like email marketing, social media marketing, and remarketing ads work well.
By establishing clear goals, you can develop clear and actionable steps to reach them. This also gives you something other than gross revenue to measure success by.
2. What types of sales will you offer?
Just because you’re having a sale doesn’t mean that everything has to be part of the promotion. There’s a lot of competition for visitors, so though it might seem counterintuitive to discount your most popular items, featuring these proven traffic-drivers may set you apart and get eyes on the rest of your inventory.
You also want to capitalize on recent trends. Do some research on what gained popularity over the last year. For example, 2020 saw spikes in things like in-home workout products (by mid-2020, Peloton revenue grew by 66%), loungewear, board games, and bakeware. Do you have any products that fit into those categories? They may be perfect to include in your sale.
You could also offer special bundles that are exclusive to your sale. You might create a movie night package, for instance, or a spa gift box. This is something special that could encourage more people to buy.
3. How much traffic are you anticipating?
If there are a few things we can bet on, it’s that people will be shopping on these days. It’s also safe to assume that many of these people will be shopping online and that there will be a lot of them. Plan accordingly.
Don’t forget to prepare your store for a potential spike in traffic. Make sure everything’s up-to-date, backed up, and optimized for speed. It’s also always a good idea to run some speed tests. Testing your store ahead of time will help you identify problems so that you can prevent loading issues and problems at checkout.
Check with your host now to make sure you know what your resource limit is. If, for instance, you’re not prepared to handle an influx in traffic, it might be time to move to a better, cloud-based plan with higher resource thresholds or allowances. Some hosts will even allocate additional resources for you during times of high traffic.
4. Is your checkout process streamlined and easy to use?
Your checkout process may very well be your business’s most important customer touchpoint, so make sure it’s on point. If your site lags or your checkout page is too complicated, customers could end up ditching their carts. Don’t let this happen. Your deals are way too good to be missed.
Utilize features like one-page checkout, which allows customers to add products to their cart and complete their order all on the same page. Also be sure to remove any unnecessary fields — the fewer, the better.
Choose a solution like WooCommerce Payments to keep shoppers on-site to enter their credit card information rather than redirecting them to a third party. You can also let returning customers store their payment details — so they don’t have to search for their card every time — and even accept Apple Pay, making the checkout process quick and easy.
These might sound like small details, but you’d be surprised. They can mean the difference between ditched carts and completed sales!
5. Is your site secure?
You may already be taking the necessary precautions to ensure your site is safe and secure, but when it comes to heavy traffic time, it’s good to be extra vigilant. Make sure you’re paying attention to security essentials: automatic, regular backups, malware scanning and protection, downtime monitoring, spam prevention, and great support from your host.
Pro tip: Jetpack’s Security package includes these features in a single bundle.
You should also use strong passwords and always update WordPress, along with your themes and plugins. This is the stuff you really don’t want to let slide.
6. Does your site load quickly?
Slow load times negatively affect conversion rates, period. In fact, an eCommerce site that’s pulling in $100k in sales per day can potentially lose $2.5 million per year for a one-second page delay. The good news? Improving your website speed doesn’t need to be tedious and time-consuming.
Here are some proactive steps you can take to speed up your WooCommerce store:
- Compress your images
- Use a WordPress CDN
- Implement lazy loading
- Speed up your videos
- Upgrade your hosting
All of the above will improve your website speed, which not only benefits you when you’re running massive sales and promotions but all the time. You’ve worked hard on your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing and advertising campaigns, so give yourself every chance you have to win. A little work ahead of time will be well worth it.
7. Are your inventory and order fulfillment processes ready to go?
In other words, are you prepared to fulfill big orders and ship large quantities, and will you be able to satisfy orders at the speed your customers are accustomed to? All of this requires planning on the back end, and preparing early will save you from last-minute overwhelm.
You can begin by syncing your store inventory with your warehouse and/or retail store. WooCommerce offers a variety of extensions for this, including Square and Scanventory.
Depending on your overall business needs, it could also be good to start writing job descriptions that you can send out to potential holiday hires.
Do you work with third-party suppliers and manufacturers? If so, factor in how long it’s going to take to have your product or materials shipped to you.
To improve efficiency, consider WooCommerce Shipping and WooCommerce Tax. These extensions help you with everything from label printing to tax calculation, helping you automate order fulfillment and accounting.
8. Are your marketing plans in place?
Sure, it’s still early, but as things get busy near the holidays, you don’t want to be scrambling to get things in place. You can even schedule your sales in advance, so you never miss their start.
Set up abandoned cart emails to automatically trigger when someone doesn’t complete their purchase. Get a jumpstart on designing any paid ads. Write email content and set emails up to send in the days leading up to your sale.
This is also a good time to implement any tracking codes on your site. Add Google remarketing tags, the Facebook Pixel, the Snap Pixel, and any other codes that integrate with the marketing platforms you use. This will help you make the most of new traffic and sales even after Black Friday has passed.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about urgency — people get a thrill searching for great deals and snagging them before anyone else. This is why people camp outside of stores or stay up late until their favorite site launches the latest deal. You can take advantage of this by creating scarcity with countdown timers or displaying limited quantities. Urgency is a proven strategy to boost sales and might give you the extra advantage you need during the busy shopping season. Learn more about creating urgency in your eCommerce marketing.
9. Is your customer service team prepared?
Whether it’s their first season with you or their seventeenth, make sure your team is in the loop. Will you stick to your regular return and exchange policies or will you modify those? Will your turnaround times be different?
Keep your customer service representatives informed on what your sales and promotions will entail. This way, they’re ready to answer live chat queries, phone calls, and emails from customers and potential buyers. Getting your policies in place early will inevitably lead to much smoother transactions when your sales go live.
Make things easy and plan ahead
If 2020’s Black Friday sales figures are any indication of how this year will go, then we predict big numbers for eCommerce retailers across the country. November 26th will be here faster than you think, so make sure you’re prepared. This will result in more sales, happier customers, and a simpler holiday season for your business.