Drive more E-commerce Sales this Black Friday & Cyber Monday (2020)
With COVID still on the rise, Black Friday this year is going to be crazy for online shopping. Most physical stores and malls are still hesitant (or prohibited) to open, and over the past few months, more people have been shopping online than ever. The trend will continue well into the holiday season, with online stores being the only option for many.
For businesses and brands, it’s crucial that they are prepared for this huge influx of online shoppers or they will miss out on key selling opportunities. If you already have a running online operation, you should start planning ahead but if your products primarily move through your physical stores you need to call in a Code Red and set up shop urgently. Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year will bring heavy sales online and the occasion may stretch out to the entire week or month.
Luckily for you, it’s never too late, whether you are starting from scratch or have something running, with these Black Friday tips you can start selling online, making the most out of BFCM this year.
Top Black Friday and Cyber Monday Tips for E-commerce
1. Identify Selling Opportunities
Again we emphasize the fact that it’s important to start early. The best time to start preparing was last quarter, the second-best time to start is now. Your consumers are probably looking up holiday gifts while you’re reading this blog and so should you. Most people start their research long before Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and you must prepare accordingly. Use their interest to your advantage, for instance: pull up data on what search queries are doing the most numbers, what is it that people are looking for, research the latest trends and happenings, the launches anticipated in the quarter, what new smartphones, consoles, laptops or fashion accessories are turning the most heads.
As a manufacturer, you need to know what products or types of products hold the most interest. What competition do you have, so you can figure out how to tap into those markets. Retailers need to know what products are gonna do certain rounds, so they can stock up and start advertising accordingly.
2. Get Set for Online Marketplaces
Last year consumers spent a combined $7.2 billion on Black Friday, and $6.1 billion on Cyber Monday. More than 50% of these sales came from none other than our e-commerce giants: Amazon, AliExpress, Walmart, and eBay. Online Marketplaces with their lucrative offers and deals, drive-in millions of customers to grab the best deals of the Holiday Season.
More online traffic this year will mean more people coming to these marketplaces to secure themselves the best deals. On an online marketplace, consumers can easily get to compare products across brands and sellers, making it easy to get the best products at the best prices. On top of that, the level of customer support on these marketplaces and protection of consumer interest makes it a very safe and attractive place to shop at, hence they stand out as the default choice for many.
For online retailers, even with their own dedicated stores, it’s important to set up stores on these marketplaces as each marketplace has its own set of perks and benefits and brings in certain kinds of customers. For a more detailed insight on marketplaces, you can go through our article: Selling on Top Online Marketplaces: A Guide.
With online marketplaces, it’s important that you comply with their protocols and standards or you will be barred from selling on them. There are a certain set of listing requirements and product data that you need to put in, in order for a product to be qualified, and furthermore, if your product data is not enriched enough or accurate, it may become hard to stand out on these platforms.
For brands and manufacturers trying to make it big in this season, it’s important to provide retailers with product information that is complete and enriched for these platforms. And that the data is shared effortlessly and seamlessly. Often when products are not listed with accurate and complete data, it may end up with failed sales, causing returns, refunds, and even possible bans.
Manufacturers need to ensure that the product data they collect is complete, enriched, engaging, and most importantly accurate, and timely delivered to their retailers. This can be achieved with a PIM. With a proper Product Information Management platform in place, collecting and sharing product data can become a breeze.
3. Online Store builders- your Falcon 9
For businesses without a dedicated online store or no online presence at all, it’s important to set their base with an online site of their own. Both manufacturers and retailers need to have their site, sitting online as their flagship store, no matter what medium is bringing in the most sales. Your own stores add credibility to your name, making it easier to sell even on other platforms, with consumers coming to cross-check on your site before completing a purchase.
Developing your own online store is tricky and requires expensive technical expertise and a lot of money. But that does not mean you shy away from building one. With Online site/Store builders, you can get done within days. There are a number of platforms you can build on, some as easy as drag or drop, others configurable in ways for even non-technical people. There are a number of plugins and third-party integrations that can stand in place for traditional software. You can have components such as Order Processing, Pricing Management, Customer Support, Content Management, and even Product Information Management Systems built-in straight to your stores without touching code at all, and all fast and easy.
4. Make it easy for customers to find the products they want
To stand out amongst those crazy deals and offerings, you need great marketing content. And at the heart of marketing content lies your raw product information. Your product information should include all relevant attributes for each unique product in your inventory.
Attributes may include the price, description, features, product images, dimensions, color, model numbers, SKUs, and UPCs. Ideally, manufacturers should include all the technical and marketing data that describes the product in detail, answering questions like:
- What can the product do?
- What is it capable of?
- How does it do it?
Your product data should draw a detailed picture of your product, making it very easy for buyers to visualize what they do get out of it, in fact, it is going to be their only touchpoint. It needs to be rich enough to make your product stand out over the competition. Not only that, but the product data needs to be accurate and consistent. If consumers notice the slightest inconsistency in your data, they will immediately leave your site and shop from a different website.
Inconsistent data also makes it hard for retailers and distributors to process orders, often ending up causing returns and refunds. Also, different selling platforms have different protocols and conventions and you need to make sure you comply with all listing requirements.
Data inaccuracies and inconsistencies are caused when the communication between manufacturers and sellers is flawed or not enough information is being exchanged. Exchanging excel files over email is not something that’s ideal in 2020 with so much technology at your disposal. Neither is excel, or any word processor an ideal tool to maintain your product catalogs.
Again this is something you can cater to with a PIM (Product Information Management) platform. With a PIM you can ensure you are collecting the right data and that data is being shared with your retailers or syndicated to your stores without any errors. ate product information reaches the final customer.
5. Understand Consumer Buying Habits amidst Covid’19
Consumers around the world reacted to the Covid’19 outbreak in a variety of ways. Some of these ways have been reflected in their buying habits as the pandemic pushed them out of their normal routines. Studies have shown increased spending on lifestyle products, and more environmentally sustainable goods. These trends are expected to last through the Holiday Season, so having similar items in your product catalog that are produced consciously would be very rewarding.
Where consumer buying habits have changed drastically, consumers have also become increasingly dependent on online shopping. Despite lockdowns being lifted in most countries around the world, people are still very cautious about being in big public gatherings. And with sale season being such a mania globally, most consumers will be taking advantage of the sales from the comfort of their homes.
6. Cross-selling is key: put your best-sellers at the top
The more personalized the experience for a customer, the more likely they are to buy from your website. It’s sale season, and there will be thousands of sales going on; your customers can easily move from one website to another if they aren’t able to find products of their interest in your stores.
By providing product suggestions based on the consumer’s previous buying behavior, you help them save the time and effort to browse through your entire website, and directly find things they like. It also makes them feel more welcomed to your website.
The holiday season is also not the time to test new things. Make sure to put out products that you know sell well. Don’t put out new products that you’re unsure of, at least not now. Save testing for another time of the year.
If you are managing your product catalogs on a PIM, you can easily identify these amazing cross-selling opportunities. PIM systems such as Sales Layer, Apimio, Akeneo, etc. help you organize and manage your product catalogs better. Once you know your best-sellers, you can easily find similar products from your catalogs and promote them during the sale season.
7. Workflow Optimization Strategies
You’ve been thinking of what could go wrong with your website, but have you thought about what could go wrong with the internal workflows at your company? During Holiday Season, with an influx of orders, it can be particularly challenging to fulfill orders fast, and it’s important to make sure that all the products being sent out are correct. It’s also important to ensure that the steps leading up to the delivery process are carried out seamlessly.
By organizing your fulfillment workflows in advance, you can ensure a smooth product experience from start to end. You can start by focusing on these tips:
1. Document your workflow:
Create a direct, easy to understand, list of your workflow months in advance. This will help you know exactly how to go about each order, and also keep your team on board. A documented workflow will lead to higher efficiency
2. Delegate and Empower your employees:
Before the start of the Sale Season, delegate duties to each of your employees, and empower them to make their own decisions. This will allow your team to be prepared for things ahead of time, and encouraging them to make their own decisions will ensure a smoother process during the sales.
3. Use collaborative work tools:
How often do you hear the saying Communication is key? Quite often, right? Because it is. Collaborative work tools allow you to communicate with your team instantly, and you can also keep every relevant person in the loop. This is much more efficient than having to arrange an in-person meeting when every employee has a different schedule, and it can become near impossible during the sale season itself when so much is going on.
4. Use automated solutions:
With so many automation solutions in the market, there is no reason for companies to do tasks manually. Automate whatever that is possible, save time, effort, and resources and work on things that matter instead of working laboriously the old way. This holiday season may end up with lots of orders for you, and you need to ensure operational efficiency. Automate Product Listing, Order Management, Pricing, Advertisements, Customer Support, and Feedback.
5. Hire more people:
Hiring more staff to assist in the fulfillment workflows during Holiday Season is always a great idea. With a rush of orders, it’s good to have more people helping in getting them out to customers.
8. Ensure Mobile Readiness of your website:
According to a study by Google, 73% of website traffic comes from mobile phones. Shopify reported 69% of total BFCM sales from mobile phones in 2019 and this is a trend consistent across all e-commerce platforms. So if your website is not mobile optimized, you’re already far behind your competition that has taken the time to enhance their mobile strategy.
Having a web store that is responsive, does not feature annoying pop-ups, and displays your images and other content properly from mobile devices is a necessity. The website’s speed should also be optimized. If you fail to provide your customers with these features, you’re most likely losing out on millions of sales from mobile users.
9. Advertising and Promotions:
The biggest sales of the year are coming up and every retailer is trying to grab their customer’s attention. Consumers’ inboxes and social media feeds are probably flooded with emails and posts regarding Black Friday. Sticking to a single source of marketing isn’t going to get you traffic on your website, and just depending on organic reach will most definitely not get you enough sales. So how can you branch out and make the most of all marketing platforms available to you? Here’s how:
1. Social Media:
Social Media is one of the best ways to reach your target audience around the Holiday Season. Consumers are on their smart devices scrolling through their Instagram and Facebook feeds to see what’s new and trending. Shoot your shot now. Start uploading posts about what products you’ll have in store for BFCM, what types of sales and deals you’ll be offering. Let them know exactly what they should be expecting from your brand this year. The right type of marketing will leave a lasting impression on them and they’ll come back to your store in time for sales.
Another extremely important platform to utilize during this period is Google Shopping. Almost 46% of product searches are initiated on Google, so listing your products on Google Shopping allows them to land on top of search pages and gain the attention of your target audience.
2. Paid ads:
Now that we’ve talked about the media you should be using to advertise your products, let’s talk about how to reach your target audience. Solely relying on organic reach isn’t enough. You must invest in paid advertisements and take advantage of Facebook, Instagram, and Google Shopping ads. This will allow you to reach a much wider audience and increase your sales. Ads are also very affordable and allow you to easily measure your results. You can target a specific group based on keywords, demographics, interests, locations and so much more. So don’t hesitate to spend money on advertising this BFCM.
3. Retargeting & Remarketing Pixels:
A retargeting pixel helps you track your customer’s behavior with your products so you can understand your audience, and create better ads. It also allows you to get your products to people who are more likely to buy it, and see how people interact with your website after viewing your ads.
Emails are a great way to reach your customers, and these can be personalized easily, so take advantage of them the most. Moderation is key so make sure the emails you’re sending out fit the purpose and hit the target. Build anticipation around upcoming sales with emails. Send ‘warm-up’ emails in the weeks leading up to BFCM with hints and teasers. Thank your customers when your sales end and definitely create abandoned cart emails.
Running a good marketing campaign involves high-quality images and product data. If your posts involve low-quality images, and data that isn’t correct or consistent, you won’t appeal to customers, and won’t make the impact that you intended to make unless the product content is enriched for the omnichannel experience you are aiming to craft. With a proper PIM in place, that might not be impossible.
10. Create contingency Plans
The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for retailers which means so much could go wrong. Having contingency plans can help you tackle unexpected events. You might run out of stocks too soon, or there may not be enough coordination with your supply chain, so products aren’t going through. Maybe you run into problems with your shipping partners. What will you do then? Your customers won’t understand any of this. And rightly so.
Hence, list out a bunch of things that could go awry on the big day and have solutions ready for all these in case anything happens because once the big day arrives, it’ll be too last minute to fix anything. Have a plan ready!
Make sure to have your developers on hand too in case your website runs into problems. With so much traffic on the website, your product images might not load, or the website will simply crash. So having a developer on the day of the sales will help you tackle the issue immediately. Every second lost due to an issue on the back-end could be costing you millions of dollars in sales. So make sure to have contingency plans ready months in advance.
Just because you’re attracting more traffic to your website for Black Friday does not mean that traffic will necessarily buy from your website. That’s because a lot of the time, retailers put up discounts and offers but don’t take out the time to understand their audience. Understanding your audience is an essential part of your marketing strategy. By integrating Google Analytics into your platforms, you can understand which products are being sold, exactly which point of your website leads to the most abandoned pages, why customers are abandoning their shopping carts, and much more.
By fully diving into your customer’s buying behavior, you can offer them deals that are more catered to them, and the products that they want at the best price possible.
Make the most of this year’s Black Friday
It’s always great to be prepared in advance for any upcoming events, and this strategy is definitely very rewarding when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. But remember, this year isn’t going to be like in previous years. With online shopping becoming the new trend, sales will start much before Black Friday and last longer than Cyber Monday. Make sure your company is prepared for at least a month of sales, and there is no better way to handle it other than starting preparations earlier.
And remember the most important thing when selling online is content. Make sure your product information is managed efficiently and is ready to be put out for thousands of customers waiting for you!
Plan, communicate, and execute; keep your team in the loop for everything and ensure you have a solid plan in place. We hope our tips help you have a seamless and rewarding Holiday Season!
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