Customers are researching the best sales and deals earlier than you think. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, about 40% of consumers start their holiday research and shopping as early as October. You must prepare early and make sure that customers who are looking for specific products are able to find you (however, if you’re one of those procrastinators, we have a list of last minute Cyber Monday tips you can try here).
To stay cool under pressure and win more sales, we provided a checklist of what to do to get your stores ready for the holiday season.
Make It User Friendly
Let’s be honest, people are going to be in a rush on Cyber Monday. And a cluttered, busy website with hidden tabs is not going to garner sales – it will only deter customers. Here are a few tips to improve your site:
- Browse through web pages and remove/update all outdated/obsolete information.
- Reduce the size of your images and remove all unnecessary flashing images/gifs to increase the speed and improve the look of your website.
Optimize For Mobile Users
According to Internet Retailer, mobile shopping accounts for 34.5% of all U.S. commerce sales. In 2018, mobile sales are expected to equal $208 billion. That is a whopping 32.7% increase from last year.
With more people relying heavily on their cell phone to make online purchases, it’s important that you make sure your website responsive across multiple device sizes. You must also have a robust user experience and mobile responsiveness – otherwise, you will lose out on potential sales.
Learn how to effectively optimize your website for mobile traffic.
Prepare Your Website for Additional Traffic
Surges in website traffic are not unusual for this time of year. Test your server load capacity to see if it can get bogged down or crash if there is a spike in traffic.
Try an online tool to test it yourself, or have a developer perform the testing for you.
Set Up Live Chat
If you are not already employing a live chat feature on your online store, now is the time to get it going.
It’s really important to be easily accessible to customers who have questions during BFCM. It’s not a time when you want to lose potential sales because visitors couldn’t get answers to their questions fast enough.
Don’t have the bandwidth for a live chat feature? Put together an FAQ page to take care of the most common questions you receive.
Use Google Analytics
You should already be doing this, but if you’re not, get it set up now. Tracking your store’s performance is crucial and will help you plan ahead for next year’s holidays.
Start Email Marketing Campaigns
Email plays a huge part in successful sales for ecommerce retailers. Now is the time to plan and implement your Cyber Monday email campaigns that will increase your site traffic during your holiday sales. Some email ideas to consider are:
- Announcing Cyber Monday sales
- Exclusive sales for email subscribers
- Sneak-peeks of sales that are to come
- Last-minute reminders before sales end
Create a Buzz on Social Media
While it might not impact conversions as directly as email marketing, social media is still an essential way to be involved with the community and stay in contact with your customers. This year, social ecommerce is expected to represent 10% of online retail revenue in the US alone. Statistics have shown that 30% of web users look towards social media sites to make a purchase.
Now is the time to build some suspense and create a buzz about your Cyber Monday sales. Use your social media pages to tease customers with upcoming campaigns or new products in your store.
You can do this in many different ways – post sneak peeks, create contests for percentages off of purchases, offer your VIP customers pre-sale opportunities to buy products at sale prices in return for posting reviews on your sites.
Plan your holiday social media campaigns in advance to efficiently get your product deals and promotions to your audience. pogvb [o5b Create a schedule for what you want to post, on what channel, and when you want to post it. It would be best to start now, since an increasing number of people are beginning to browse for potential gifts as early as October.
Creating a posting schedule, whether it be on excel or Google sheets, will help you stay organized and effective this holiday season.
The sooner you start this, the more momentum you will have when the holiday gets here. Need ideas? Here are 105 ways ecommerce businesses can use social media.
Plan Marketing Campaigns
Cyber Monday isn’t a holiday to push last-minute sales campaigns. Your sales should be planned and organized ahead of time.
Decide which products you want to offer deals on, decide on the discounted prices, and schedule the start dates. That way when Cyber Monday rolls around and you are up to your neck in shipping, you have solid, set plans that are easy to execute.
You want to have as much time as possible to think about and plan your advertising for Cyber Monday sales, deals, and discounts.
If you use Google AdWords (if you don’t, you need to!), keep in mind that bidding on keywords for this holiday may be more expensive than the rest of the year. Make sure you are budgeting effectively to make your brand and your products more visible.
Retarget Stale Customers
Focus some time and ad dollars on retargeting stale customers or website visitors who didn’t buy. You want to remind anyone who may have forgotten about your store. Try Facebook retargeting ads with a great comeback offer.
Reward Your Loyal Customers
A holiday when everyone is already shopping is an opportune time to reinforce how much you value your loyal, return customers. It’s also a great time to entice them to buy more products from your store. Send them special, personalized emails that offer better deals than what the public gets. This shows them that you value them and want to continue to build relationships with them.
Watch the Competition
Watching your competition will help you stay ahead of the game and to gather ideas for your own store’s Cyber Monday sales and discounts. The easiest way to keep an eye on competitors is to simply subscribe to their email list. That way you can examine the types of emails they send and when they send them.
Inventory Management Checklist
Prepare for Increase Demand
Make sure that your entire supply chain can handle the increase in sales this holiday season. Communicate with your suppliers to ensure that they are prepared for your expected sales during the whole holiday season, starting with BFCM. No retailer wants to run out of stock during the busiest sales time of the year.
Look back at your sales from the past few years to gauge the number of units needed along with this year’s sales data, Google Trends, and top gift lists for a more accurate count.
Prevent Overselling Nightmares
Manually managing your inventory can be a hassle on any day of the year, but will be especially stressful on Cyber Monday. Our online inventory management tool makes maintaining inventory across multiple channels a breeze. Our software automatically updates product quantities across channels as a sale is made, so that you can say goodbye to overselling.
Offer Free Shipping
Free shipping is now an expected feature for many customers. In fact, 81% of customers would rate free shipping as a number one priority when making a purchase decision. If you set a minimum order threshold to qualify for free shipping, you can even encourage them to buy more items.
Worried that it could possibly cost too much to provide free shipping? Here are tips on how to make free shipping a viable option.
Speed Up Fulfillment
With our shipping management tool you can create pick lists, packing slips, and shipping labels in bulk which can significantly speed up fulfillment. We also offer integrations with USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL Express and Aftership; so you can fulfill orders in one place, and fast. One ecomdash user even said shipping speed increased by 50% since using our tool.
Offer Easy Returns
Holidays are stressful for everyone, including shoppers. When they make purchases during hectic times (like Cyber Monday) they want to know that if they have made mistakes, they can be easily fixed. They also want online retailers who care about them and go the extra mile when it comes to customer service.
To that end, providing customers with easy and hassle-free returns will eliminate the risks for customers, and possibly get those who are on the fence to make the leap to buy.
Best Cyber Monday Tip
Have a Plan B (and C, D, and E)
Planning is your best defense against any problems. You need to have contingency plans in case something goes wrong. What will you do if your website crashes? Do you have a support technician on call? Do you have a backup supplier in case one runs out of stock?
Having contingency plans isn’t about being pessimistic, it’s about being ready should things not go as planned. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Happy Cyber Monday
The key to a successful and low-stress Cyber Monday is early planning and implementation. The above checklist will help you execute a profitable holiday sales season. If this is your store’s first Cyber Monday, think of it as an opportunity to learn and hone skills for next year. Be ambitious, but don’t have unrealistic expectations. Cyber Monday can be a fun endeavor, if you allow it to be.
Take a deep breath, and prepare your stores with these quick tips and tricks, so that you can maximize profits and stay organized – without breaking a sweat.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was updated in September 2018 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.