Thanksgiving weekend ecommerce preparationBlack Friday. Cyber Monday. Even Thanksgiving Day. What Amazon cheekily calls the “Turkey 5,” we know traditionally as the long Thanksgiving weekend, stretching from Thursday to Monday. But for ecommerce owners, those five days are some of the highest-selling all year.

Not surprisingly, online sales during Thanksgiving weekend grew 19.2% from 2017 to 2018, with a total of $22.55 billion last year. That number’s expected to grow even higher in 2019, setting a new world-record as it has every year before.

If you like to strike while the iron’s hot, it doesn’t get any hotter than the weekend with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. But rather than rush to get everything done a few weeks before, why not take an early-bird approach?

Below, we outline a Thanksgiving weekend ecommerce to-do list so you can prepare your store and capitalize on the hottest shopping opportunity of the year.


1. Target the Right Categories

First, you have to understand a lot of the activity for Thanksgiving weekend is specifically holiday shopping. That means the types of products people buy at this time are different than normal, so you can’t always trust your data from the previous months.

Although they change yearly with new trends, we found a 2017 report of the most popular product categories during the Thanksgiving weekend, based on the percentage of people who said that’s where they spent most of their money:

  1. Electronics (23%)
  2. Clothing/footwear (21%)
  3. Toys (14%)
  4. Entertainment (10%)
  5. Kitchen wares (6%)
  6. Beauty (5%)
  7. Fashion accessories (4%)
  8. Furniture/home decor (4%)
  9. Gift cards (3%)
  10. Sporting goods/recreation (2%)

The reason shoppers love the Thanksgiving weekend shopping is the deals, and knowing which items to promote is half the battle. If you already sell items in these categories, that’s a good start. If you don’t, it’s not too late to add a few to your store to be ready for the holiday rush.


2. Think Outside the Weekend

Although the Thanksgiving weekend may be the peak of holiday shopping sales, it’s the summit of a very large mountain. What we mean is that the entire month of November and the first two weeks of December all see a stark rise in sales compared to the yearly average.

So while you’re preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t forget about the rest of the shopping season. When planning out your deals, allot the best ones for Thanksgiving weekend but make sure you still offer or extend some promotions from November 1 all the way through Christmas.


3. Adapt to Holiday Shopping Demographics

Shoppers don’t just change what they buy over the Thanksgiving weekend, they change how they buy it. Take a look at these eye-opening statistics from Finder:

  • Men budgeted nearly twice as much (an average of $626.44 per person) as women ($342.50 per person).
  • 77% of men plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend compared to 71% of women.
  • Generation X are the highest spenders, with an average of $592.83. Millennials come in next with $560.17, while Baby Boomers are nearly half that with $247.92. Target each generation appropriately with these tips.

Keep in mind who your target shoppers are for this weekend and offer deals on the products they’re most likely to buy.


4. Promotions, Promotions, Promotions

As we said above, Thanksgiving weekend shopping is about promotions. You need to prioritize your own promotions to make sure shoppers know they exist. Here’s a checklist of where you can promote your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals:

  • Hero images on your homepage
  • Banners on your site pages
  • Modal or pop-up windows on your site
  • Notification bars on your site (for something more subtle)
  • Targeted blog posts
  • Email campaigns
  • Social media posts
  • Social media banners & profile pics
  • Social media ads
  • Amazon ads
  • Google Ads
  • Ads on other relevant sites

Depending on what you’re promoting and to whom, some of these avenues will work better than others. If your own sales data shows some of these methods are more fruitful than others, experiment with those first during the Thanksgiving weekend.


5. Stock Up

Nothing ruins the mood of holiday shopping more than an Out of Stock message. Not only does your store lose a sale, but you also develop a bad reputation — and that’s doubly harmful if it’s a first-time shopper, which is more likely during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Instead, make sure you stock up on your best-sellers and promoted items beforehand… like, right now. You can use your sales analytics from last year’s Thanksgiving weekend as a starting point, but if you’re promoting different products or changing your strategy, you’ll have to rely on estimates.

If you sell on multiple channels, consider inventory management software to help you monitor your stock levels. Instead of manually changing the stock numbers on all your products, on all your sites, every time you make a sale, the right software can update these numbers automatically, so you lower the risk of overselling and developing a bad reputation.


6. Optimize for Mobile

It’s been ramping up for a while, but as of 2018, mobile shopping now makes up a third (33.5%) of all Black Friday deals. On Shopify, mobile orders even took the majority, making up 66% of all orders during Thanksgiving weekend.

Optimizing your site for mobile is good advice all year round, but if you don’t manage it by Thanksgiving, you’ll be missing out on sales. Make sure your site is responsive for mobile devices with different screen sizes — the number of mobile ecommerce shoppers keeps going up, so the sooner you accommodate them, the better. Here is a list of 5 mobile checkout optimizations you can implement now.


7. Tailor Your Content and Email Strategies

Customers also change up what they read during the holiday shopping season. Post what holiday shoppers want to see: gift guides, shopping guides, comparison reviews, tips on getting deals, and other material to improve their holiday shopping.

That applies to your holiday email campaigns as well. Newsletters should focus on topics related to holiday shopping, if not advertising your own gift recommendations.

Remember the end-goal of content marketing isn’t always a sale. Even if shoppers don’t ultimately buy from you, a helpful gift guide can help your brand reputation, and they might remember you later when they need to buy something else online.



Want to know the secret to avoiding stress over Thanksgiving weekend? Preparation.

If you read everything before — starting now and working on it over the next few months — by the time the Thanksgiving sales start, there will be nothing left for you to do except watch your profits rise. Campaigns like advertising, publishing blogs, posting on social media, and putting banners up on your website can all be scheduled early. Some preparations, like stocking your inventory, can only be done early.

So pay attention to the items on this checklist sooner rather than later. That should free up enough time over the Thanksgiving weekend so that you can actually enjoy it.

Here are a few more Black Friday online seller tips and Cyber Monday marketing ideas to help you prepare for a successful holiday!

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Holiday Social Media Calendar Template

Keep track of how often to post on each channel, who to target with certain advertisements, and what your goals are for the season with our free, downloadable template.

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