Major sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) have become increasingly important for online retailers, and it’s important to have a plan. These twin pillars of the shopping season can dramatically boost sales and attract new customers if approached strategically. In fact, at Wonderful, it’s one of the most intense parts of our year because our partners often expect to make a large portion of their yearly sales – in a single weekend.
Successful participation requires thoughtful preparation. There’s no exact formula for when to start gearing up, but industry experts generally advise beginning the process around three months in advance. Let’s break the phases down.
Three Months Out: Set Your Black Friday / Cyber Monday Objectives
A solid plan should form the foundation of your BFCM preparation. Identify what you want to achieve during the event. Are you seeking to clear inventory, acquire new customers, increase brand awareness, or a mix of these? Clearly defined objectives guide your strategies and help measure your success.
Understanding the past can inform your future strategies. Analyze your sales data from previous years’ BFCM. Identify what products were most popular, when traffic peaked, and any challenges you faced. This will help you gauge what to expect and how to prepare.
Two Months Out: Inventory and Supplier Management
Consider your inventory. Stock up on best-selling items and consider introducing new products that align with your target audience’s interests. Reach out to suppliers to ensure they can accommodate your needs and establish clear communication lines to resolve any potential issues promptly.
Six Weeks Out: Build Your Marketing and Sales Strategy
Your marketing strategy is vital. Create an integrated campaign across email, social media, and pay-per-click advertising. Decide on your promotional offers—will you offer flat discounts, flash sales, free shipping, or bundle deals?
Email marketing can be a powerful tool. Start growing your email list from the outset, ensuring you have a captive audience when the event arrives. Plan a series of emails to build anticipation, announce sales, and remind customers of ongoing deals.
One Month Out: Optimize Your Website and Test
The surge in traffic during BFCM can strain your website. To prevent crashes, optimize your website for speed and ensure your hosting service can handle the traffic increase. Importantly, make sure your website is fast, because on a day with so much concentrated traffic, even 0.1 seconds of speed can increase your conversions by 10%.
Your website’s design should also be optimized. Highlight your BFCM deals on your homepage and make sure your site is easy to navigate. Create specific landing pages for your BFCM deals to drive traffic and increase conversions.
In the weeks leading up to BFCM, conduct thorough testing. This includes load testing to ensure your website can handle increased traffic and checkout testing to ensure a smooth transaction process.
Two Weeks Out: Finalize Logistics and Customer Service Preparation
Your logistics should be foolproof, and you need to bulletproof your back office operations. Clearly communicate shipping costs and delivery times to customers, and make sure you can meet those promises. Establish a solid return policy in case customers aren’t satisfied with their purchases.
Investing in customer service can also pay dividends. Consider extending service hours and providing additional training on your policies and products. This ensures your team is ready to assist with any issues that arise.
One Week Out: Start Your Promotional Campaign
Start your promotional campaign one week out to build anticipation. Tease your deals on social media and via email marketing. Make sure all marketing materials are consistent and on-brand.
During BFCM: Monitor and Engage
Throughout BFCM, stay active online. Monitor your website, respond to customer inquiries promptly, engage with customers on social media, and resolve any issues that arise. Keep an eye on your inventory and be ready to pivot if items sell out faster than expected.
Post BFCM: Analyze and Learn
Once the dust settles, analyze your performance. Did you meet your objectives? What worked, and what didn’t? What can you learn for next year?
Plan early for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It may seem like a daunting task (and honestly, it kinda is), but it offers a valuable opportunity to significantly boost your e-commerce business. Starting early, setting clear objectives, and investing time in preparation will set your business up for success. As with all business strategies, flexibility is crucial. Be ready to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, and remember: each BFCM is a learning experience to refine your strategy for the next one.