How to have a Successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It's that time of year again — so remove the pumpkins from your storefront and prepare your shop for the biggest sales marathon of the year. It’s BLACK FRIDAY and CYBER MONDAY.

Do you know how Black Friday got its name? It comes from the fact that most retailers were recording yearly losses until the Holiday Season, when they would finally cross into the black. Get it? Black, for Black Friday. It’s okay if you didn’t, because we tricked you! The name story is a myth.

With the recent addition of Cyber Monday, the 4 days starting with Thanksgiving and ending with Cyber Monday signal the biggest shopping weekend of the year. The deep discounts that Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring allow shoppers to make purchases both for themselves and for those on their Holiday shopping list.

With increased traffic comes increased potential for new customers. Here at Ecwid, we are committed to your selling success. So with that in mind, we have devised a simple plan that you can follow to ensure a successful Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

To help you tackle this all, we’ve created a suggested “roadmap to success,” divided by week — starting the second week of November.

Now let's break down each week in detail:

Week 1: Plan 🗓

Week 2: Communicate 📣

Week 3: Set Up ⚙️

Week 4: Breathe🧘🏾

Week 5: Follow Up 👋

Week 1, November 8-14 : Plan 

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Schedule Everything

That influx of customers won’t happen by itself in some commercial-magical way. It’s you who performs the magic with email marketing, discounts, storefront banners and social media announcements. So first things first — you need to plan the “what” and the “when”. Since you have all of November ahead of you, start with your calendar. Decide when you’ll send emails, announce new prices for hot ticket items on social media and add banners to your website to draw attention. Or, save yourself some time, and use the calendar we created below!

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Identify hot items in your store

Now that everything is scheduled, it’s time to dig into details. Let’s start with reviewing your product lineup to identify your most popular items. What’s the best strategy here?

We suggest using some good old sales analytics. Check your data from past years to improve your forecast and gain insights into customers behavior. If you are in a pre-holiday rush, you can always track your data on the go — with the Ecwid mobile app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

If you need a refresher on all the reporting Ecwid provides you with, here is a handy article and blog post.

Once you prioritize your products, make sure you have enough items in each category to avoid running out of inventory. Contact any suppliers in advance (if you rely on them) in regards to inventory. And be absolutely sure to check shipping and packaging supplies as well. We recommend using our partner Arka for your shipping and packaging needs. *Pro tip: To create an awesome customer experience try using their branded packaging option.

The best way to avoid running out of stock is to turn on email notifications about product stock — when a product quantity gets low in your online store, you’ll get an email alert and be able to restock in time.

Consider diversifying your product lineup with items which may be new to your business but have seen the biggest jumps during pandemic. It comes as no surprise to you that items improving the homebound experience are on the rise on the market. Homewear, small animal supplies, baking items, gaming items, self-care products, indoor and outdoor furniture, simple exercise equipment — you get the idea.

Maybe your business is relevant to some of these markets. Great! Here’s a pro tip for you: highlight these items with ribbons to catch your store visitors eye. You may even combine homelife-enhancing items in one category and choose a striking image your customers can’t resist clicking on.

📖 To learn more about attracting shoppers attention:

Think through discounts and coupons

Online sales are on the rise this year, so boost your website traffic with discounts and coupons, and spread the word through social media, direct emails, and highlighted products.

Be creative and don’t just set up sales prices and assume they will bring in business. Spoiler — they won't.

Some things to think about when planning discounts:

  • Types of shoppers and their needs
  • Validating long-time customers (maybe they’d love a thank you discount :-) )
  • Possible discounts to re-engage abandoned carts (special terms like free shipping, a gift or a discount, is the best way to get them to place their order)
  • First-time shoppers. Announce deals for first-timers on your social media accounts.
  • Enabling exit intent popups, using the Poptin app in Ecwid app market.
📖 To gather more ideas for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategy:

Week 2, November 15-21: Communicate

Send out those emails

Take a look at the calendar — It’s Start-To-Send-Marketing-Emails Day! (Our favorite day of the year). Email marketing ramps up in all its glory right before Black Friday, when people are actually craving promotional emails as they create their own Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping plan. It is also time to start ‘warming up’ your clients with an announcement of any upcoming discounts or special offers.

The days of one-size-fits-all marketing messages are long gone. Nowadays, the winning strategy is to take advantage of segmentation to reach different types of buyers and drive them towards conversion goals. Create several campaigns and design templates for each of them, promote discounts right in emails, and target your customers based on their purchase activity. You can even put your emails on autopilot. Read our related post on Unleashing the Power of Email Marketing with Mailchimp and Ecwid E-commerce.

The moral of the story: send your customers relevant marketing messages.

Remember to announce sales and special offers on your social media accounts as well. The more interactions with a product a person has, the higher the chance they will make a purchase.

Mondays and Thursdays are the most popular days for online shopping, with the peak hour for e-commerce being between 8pm and 9pm.
📖 For more tips about email marketing:

Use banners to draw attention to your Black Friday campaign

Draw attention to your discounts and promotions by creating pop-ups or product banners.

You can easily show off text banners, pictures or videos on the site cover on your Ecwid Instant Site. You can also show eye-catching messages and/or pictures on either the top of your store’s front page or with your category's description. Then add Black Friday banners to give your store a consistent (but unique!) look, or to inform your customers about limited-time offers:

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In case you need a completely custom design for your store during the Big Sales, we can provide in-depth customization of the storefront made according to your specs. We can also add-on new features unique to your business. Order custom design from our experts.
📖 To learn more about popups:

Invest in ads

Pop-ups and banners are great, but to truly grow as a business you’ve got to get new people to your store to see them. That’s why we recommend spending a little on advertising now, when people are more likely to actually make a purchase. Using Google and Social Media Ads will help you reach a broader audience of buyers that don’t already know about your brand, while retargeting Ads will help you bring back previous shoppers, or those who have abandoned their carts. Ecwid has a couple of app market partners that can help you get the job done:

  • Kliken helps you market your products and categories on Google, Bing, and Yahoo in five minutes or less, and retargets customers coming to your website to increase conversions. All you need to do is select which products and categories to advertise, and they do the rest. Kliken is available for download in Ecwid’s app market.
  • ROI Hunter helps you attract new customers with ads on Facebook feed, Instagram Stories and Google Smart Shopping. They also bring back visitors who abandoned their cart so you get a second shot at making the sale with powerful retargeting ads. Their app is available for download in Ecwid’s app market.

The simplest yet most cost-effective tools for beginners is an old standby: Google.

Consider focusing on Google if your store is relatively new and you are new to advertising. Google is the cheapest way to increase traffic to your site.

If you have been selling for a while, we also recommend adding Facebook to your tool set as a way to retarget your pre-existing traffic.

The challenge of reaching new customers becomes really easy with Facebook post boosting, especially if you know your audience inside and out. Facebook’s targeting works particularly well if your customers can be easily defined by their interests and demographics.

📖 To learn more about advertising strategy:

Week 3, November 22-28: Set Up

It’s go time! Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are in full swing. It’s time for you to set up all the special offers to attract more customers and get your market share. Let’s take a quick glance at the checklist one more time to make sure everything is running like clockwork.

Free shipping

These two words are #1 way to entice customers to buy from you. Research says that 84% of online customers are more likely to shop at stores that offer free shipping.

Offering free shipping during the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is your best chance to skyrocket sales. There are several ways of implementing free shipping without burning a hole in your pocket. For example, setting free shipping specifically for certain locations, or compensating free shipping by setting higher prices.

📖 For more useful tips about free shipping:

Special pricing

Offer sale prices in your Ecwid store or create special discounts based on order subtotals to encourage customers to spend more. To reward special customers you can also set up discounts based on targeted “customer groups”. Don’t forget to set up “Compare to” prices. When a product goes on sale for a lower price, the original price will be shown with a line through it, and the product will get a bright "ON SALE" label:

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You can go wild and launch an unconditional store-wide sale. Customers have been waiting for it the whole year, so give them what they want. The fastest way to launch a global sale is to set up automatic discount in percent or absolute value for all orders over $1 so that the discount applies to all customer orders. Let customers know about your “Holiday special” with the help of product ribbons.

Or you can import individual sale prices for all products in your store to show the price difference and to highlight the discounted products with an automatic "On Sale" label. “But I have so many products to deal with and so little time!” Worry not, just edit your products in bulk with the help of the Bulk Product Editor app. Entrust all the boring stuff to the app and make yourself a cup of hot coffee (or whatever floats your boat).

Gift cards

Delight your customers by offering gift cards for those customers who can’t decide which of your products to buy. This is an especially helpful feature for those looking for Christmas presents. You can offer your customers the ability to buy an electronic gift card for any range you specify and ship it via email. They can then forward the email to the gift recipient. When the gift-getter goes shopping in your store, they can pay with the gift card.

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Special gift category

Christmas is around the corner, and many people will also be starting to look for New Year’s presents. Make these decisions easier by adding a seasonal “holiday gifts” category to your website. Cull together a collection of items that would make a great gift for friends or family.

📖 To learn more about getting ready for Holidays:

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Week 4, November 29 — December 5: Breathe

Black Friday just happened and you’re gearing up for Cyber Monday… so don’t forget the most important aspect to your success: BREATHE. No, seriously. Take a moment to admire all the planning you did and watch the sales come in. Treat yourself by sleeping in and walking away from your workspace. Spend a day doing nothing and (for once) stop checking your screen every 5 minutes. Learning to unplug is its own skill, especially during the “Black Friday and Cyber Monday to Christmas” sales marathon.

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Giving your mind a break will also allow you to approach any issues that come up with a fresh mindset.

📖  To learn more about life-work balance:

Week 5, December 6-12: Follow Up

Customers expect their orders to be delivered on time, even last-minute ones. So schedule your time carefully and be sure to ship every order without delay. Don’t forget: it’s the end of the year, and the year is 2020, so there’s going to be a lot of online orders, and carriers might have little flexibility for delivery times/rushes.

Take care of shipping

Obviously you can’t control delivery time, but you can prepare your business for a sudden influx of orders with tight delivery windows. Do this by giving your customers the best possible shopping experience. A good place to start is with shipping labels. Here are some other tips:

Offer order pickup or curbside pickup. Self-pickup options will come in handy for nearby customers if you have a physical location/store front. Set up local in-store pickup or a curbside pickup, so your customers can stop by your place and pick their orders.

Tracking. To reduce customer anxiety about their order’s whereabouts, offer the ability to track packages any time they want. If you use delivery services that provide tracking, you can assign tracking numbers to corresponding orders. Your customers will receive their tracking number by email.

Return policy. Since your number of customers increases during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, there definitely will be a couple of folks who would like to return their purchases. So update your FAQ page and make your return policy easy to find and clear. Decide who pays for return shipping — you, the customer, or a 50-50 split.

Backup plan for delay. Consider offering your customers a discount or coupon if their order is set to arrive late. 

But it is certainly best to deliver on time. To ensure your customers get their orders before Christmas, keep an eye on the key deadlines for shipping. Below you can find the ship-by dates gathered by our partner Shippo:

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📖 To learn more about writing clear and concise return policy:

Thank your customers

We have a feeling that you’d like your Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers to become repeat customers. Stand out from the shopping crowd and remind them of your brand with a thank you email a week or so after Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Try adding a special touch like offering a discount coupon for their next purchase or a referral discount. Here are 19 other ideas on how to thank your customers to build trust and loyalty. This will help you take full advantage of your increased traffic and create a larger customer base moving forward into the new year.

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If you have time you can even add hand-written thank you cards to the order, like Ali Conway, an Ecwid merchant does.

Wrapping up

A head’s start on planning for Black Friday/Cyber Monday is key to ensuring that your new shoppers have the best possible experience with your shop. It will also help you make the most of your discounts and gift cards, social media accounts and emails. Hopefully these tips will help drive new customers to your online store and boost your sales.

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