For eCommerce stores, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday might just be the most important days of the year. Causing surges in sales and traffic as over 175 million Americans all go shopping at once. 

So we want to make sure you’re ready, by arming you with simple, actionable advice that can help you get more sales. Last year in the United States, Black Friday eCommerce sales topped $7.4 billion and cyber Monday, online sales were even more astounding, topping $9.2 billion for online stores. There’s no doubt that preparing for black Friday and cyber Monday can leave a lot of store owners feeling stressed. Let’s face it.

The amount of sales, traffic, orders to fulfill and support requests can start to feel overwhelming, that’s why we write this article, to give you a simple checklist to help you avoid issues and sees this massive opportunity. 

We want you to start strong and make progress quickly and have less headaches and more happy customers. Starting your planning early is vital for achieving success. 

Since almost every online retailer on the planet will be participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday,  so you need to ensure that your business is going to stand out in an ocean of competitors. 

How to plan your sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

So, probably one of the best things you can do to become a better business owner is crafting an irresistible offer. It’s well known that customers who participate in black Friday and cyber Monday, do it to take advantage of those door crushing sales. We’ve all seen the videos of how crazy crowds get on black Friday at brick and mortar stores. 

Thankfully for us online stores, we only have to deal with an influx of traffic, not hordes of foot traffic, to get customers to your online store, start by crafting a jaw-dropping sale for a flagship product or products. Now don’t worry as much about the profit margin per item, often customers will add on items as they make their way to check out, so while your margin might be lower for your flagship product, you can always win on sales volume.

This is what is known as a loss leader strategy, where by a product or service is sold at a price that is less profitable or not profitable. But it’s meant to attract new customers and to sell additional products and services. Often customers wouldn’t have considered these other products without the flagship products discount. 

For some merchants, loss leader pricing might not make strategic sense for their products or brand, so here are some other ideas. 

  • Firstly, you could offer a product, this is where you sell a package of products for a lower price than you would charge. If the customer bought all the products separately, pursuing a bundled pricing strategy allows you to increase your profits by using a discount to induce customers to buy a lot more than they otherwise would have. 
  • Next up, we have gamify your offers, this is the use of gaming techniques like competition, ranking list, scoring systems and incentives to make buying decisions more fun and best attractive. 

Gamifying offers can boost sales, increase profit and promote brand loyalty. Two of the most famous examples of this are McDonald’s monopoly and Starbucks rewards. Those same principles of gamification can be applied to eCommerce businesses. That being said, your gamification sales strategy should be perfectly in tune with your brand identity. If you sell a bingo set, spin to win might make a lot more sense than monopoly. 

  • Lastly, we have creating limited time offers, and these are rooted in a psychological phenomenon, known as loss aversion. Loss aversion is the idea that people prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. I think we’re all pretty familiar with fear of missing out, so offering a deal that only lasts for a limited amount of time, like 24 hours can give a person a feeling of urgency, which may help to prompt a sale. It can also prevent a customer from delaying a purchase decision and check out right now. 

Regardless of your strategy, creating an irresistible offer is vital to having a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Organize your sales early, definitely don’t leave planning your sales until the last minute. Not only will waiting make your life more stressful, but it can cause you to make costly mistakes. If you aren’t careful to run the math on the costs involved with your product, like shipping, packaging and marketing, you run the risk of losing money on sales, take the time to review your inventory, and the margins associated with each product. 

Next you’ll want to create a planned sales map, It should include:

  • the current price, 
  • the cost of goods sold, 
  • the sale price, 
  • the start date of the sale, 
  • the end date of the sale 
  • the discount type. Is it going to be an automatic discount, a price reduction, or will users need to enter a discount code? 
  • how do you intend to promote the sale? 

This is all information that you’ll want to have at your fingertips. 

Let’s talk about contingency plans, make sure that you have backup plans in case something goes wrong. You really don’t want to be in a position where you miss out on sales, due to an issue that could have been easily prevented, make a list of all those things that could go wrong and then plan for them. What will you do if you run out of stock earlier than expected? Make sure to plan for quick restocking. What will you do if your shipping partner can’t handle the number of orders? Well, you need to find out what your shippers capacity is and put a fallback plan in place in case it is exceeded. 

These are just two examples of some of the worst things that can go wrong, but some issues are business the specific. So take some time to customize your list, and see around corners, the last thing you want is to be troubleshooting amidst one of the biggest sales of the year. 

Now, one thing you want to make sure you take time to prepare is your multichannel selling strategy. If you’re new to this concept, it’s when you sell your products on multiple sales channels, like your own website, online marketplaces, mobile marketplaces, and sometimes even brick and mortar stores. 

If you’re not already doing this, you’ll want to make sure that you give yourself time to sell and install sales channels like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, and Walmart. Prioritize getting this done early as the algorithm of sales channels like Google can sometimes take time to learn about your store, so that your products are shown to the right shoppers. 

If you’re already doing this, then you’ll want to dig into your analytics to find out which channels work best for your store, and then double down on them. With such high stakes during black Friday, it’s incredibly important that your website is prepared. 

How to Prepare For Increased Demand On Black Friday

If your site crashes due to the surge in traffic, that could mean a lot of missed sales. It’s crucial that you ensure that your website can handle that spike in traffic. Make sure to test the load capacity of your server. 

Secondly, you need to ensure that your store can handle the increased demands, whether you use a supplier for your inventory or manufacture it yourself, make sure to use forecasting tools, like the Shopify app inventory planner, to make sure you’re prepared to handle an increased demand in sales, not meeting the demand of your customers is easily one of the worst things that can happen during a sale.

Now I’m not trying to be a doomsday prophet here. I’m just trying to give you very real scenarios so that you are prepared. 

Next let’s talk about considering product trends. Well, this doesn’t mean that you should pivot your business at the last minute, introducing new products to your store that take advantage of current trends can bring in a lot of sales. 38% of Shopify merchants are introducing new products for black Friday and cyber Monday. Also, according to Shopify data, here are some of the top trending product categories of this year. 

  • indoor and outdoor furniture 
  • home office equipment and accessories 
  • board games and puzzles 
  • exercise equipment 
  • self care and beauty products
  • leisure wear

Gift cards

Gift cards are such a great way to capture sales that you might otherwise lose out on if you run out of inventory. Consider including gift cards in your strategy, because they give you the time and money you need to restock before the gift cards are redeemed after the holiday season. 

Now let’s talk about optimizing your order and fulfillment workflows. With the influx of sales that often occurs during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed, if you haven’t set up your workflow properly. Here are some things that you might want to get done to make sure your workflow is seamless. 

  • Organize your fulfillment area so that your most popular products can be easily packed and shipped. 
  • Hire any additional fulfillment staff that might help things run smoother. 
  • Overcommunicate with fulfillment and delivery staff to help avoid errors. 

Prioritize and organize your orders. Some common ways to organize and group orders include organizing your orders by customer priority and fulfill these orders first. So you can show appreciation to your most loyal customers, you can also organize orders by shipping priority. So customers who paid for expedited shipping, get their orders first. 

Additionally, you can organize by delivering methods, so products fulfilled by local delivery or a given shipping provider are grouped and fulfilled all at once. 

Different products require different picking protocols and packaging. You can group your orders by product type that can optimize the time it takes to pick up and pack an order. 

How To Plan Ad Campaigns

Planning ad campaigns, takes time and you’ll want to be sure you give yourself enough lead time to create campaigns that actually drive results, you don’t need to be a phenomenal graphic designer to get this done. 

Templates on canvas are a great way to create beautiful designs simply, almost anyone can do it, but if timing is a concern, hiring a designer through Upwork and Fiverr can help free up your time to focus on other tasks. 

Plan ads early, since Black Friday, Cyber Monday is the biggest sales weekend of the year. Running ads during this popular time can be a lot more expensive than other periods of the year. So you want to have ample time to prepare a solid ad creative and plan your placements so that when you do launch your campaigns, you can actually make the most of them. 

As a pro tip create ad sequence of multiple ads with unique messages and offers to build hype for the big day. Take potential customers from awareness to consideration before black Friday and cyber Monday, so that when your sale launches they’re ready to convert. 

You can build a buzz with your audience with Social media followings, and email lists, or the perfect way to peak the curiosity of your customers early. Several weeks before cyber Monday and black Friday, begin teasing sale items to your audience.

That way, when you finally announced the sale, you have already built momentum. Your goal is to stay top of mind with potential customers so that when the big weekend finally arrives, they’ll head over to yours, the store first, because they’re already bursting with desire. 

See also: 10 cheap and Free Ways to Promote Your Business

How To Optimize Your Online Store

We need to talk optimization. Think mobile first people, today, virtually everyone is walking around with a mini computer in their pocket, which explains why mobile sales increasingly outperformed desktop sales on black Friday and cyber Monday for eCommerce businesses. To prepare for this growing trend, make sure to review your user experience on mobile. There are several ways you can optimize the mobile experience for online shoppers:

  • Make sure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly. This means that it should automatically adjust to fit the screen size and resolution of any device, including smartphones and tablets.
  • Speed up your website. A slow-loading website can be frustrating for mobile users, especially if they are on a slow or unstable internet connection. Make sure your website loads quickly by optimizing images, using a content delivery network (CDN), and reducing the number of unnecessary elements on the page.
  • Simplify the checkout process. The easier it is for customers to purchase from your website, the more likely they are to complete a purchase. Consider using a one-click checkout process, or allowing customers to save their billing and shipping information for future purchases.
  • Use large, easy-to-tap buttons. Mobile users often have to tap small buttons with their fingers, which can be difficult and frustrating. Make sure your buttons are large enough and spaced out enough to be easily tapped on a mobile device.
  • Use mobile-specific payment methods. Some mobile users may not have a credit card, or may prefer to use mobile-specific payment methods such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. Make sure you offer these options to make it easier for mobile users to make a purchase.
  • Optimize for local search. Many mobile users search for products or services while on the go, so it’s important to optimize your website for local search. This includes using location-specific keywords and including your business’s address and phone number on your website.

Marketing in Black Friday

I wanted to start with retargeting past customers, it’s well known that marketing to past customers is significantly easier and less costly than marketing to new customers, and this is because these customers have already trusted you enough to give you their money and are now intimately acquainted with your brand. 

As a marketing best practice, you should have tracking pixels for Google and Facebook campaigns added to your store, if you haven’t done this already, do it now, as it will give you the ability to retarget people that land on your site during black Friday and cyber Monday. 

If you already have a retarding list, make sure to launch retargeting campaigns, to pass customers, letting them know about your phenomenal black Friday and cyber Monday offers. 

You can retarget these people with a black Friday cyber Monday ad sequence several weeks before the big weekend

Gift guides are often created weeks, sometimes months in advance of cyber Monday and black Friday. The reason for this is that blog posts not only need time to be written imaged and edited, but they also need to be published so that they are given time to rank in search engines. As a result, you should get in touch with blogs in your niche early, so that you have proper time to organize a sponsorship or affiliate deal. 

Start planning your email marketing campaigns early, crafting strong subject lines and writing compelling body copy. Your email marketing campaigns for this season should include the following emails. 

  • A black Friday cyber Monday sale announcement, 
  • A sneak peek of upcoming sales and exclusive sale to email subscribers, 
  • A last reminder before the sale ends. 
  • Abandoned cart emails. 

Email marketing works best when you send the right message to the right audience, at the right time. To accomplish this, make sure to segment your audience into distinct groups, some common types of segmentation, our highly engaged shoppers, shoppers that haven’t purchased in a long time, and customers that like discounts. 

Segmentation ensures that customers get messaging that feels tailored to them. Reward past customers and email subscribers with early access to sales and special offers,is an amazing way to build brand loyalty. 

How To Give Support To Client On Black Friday

During black Friday and cyber Monday, it’s critical that you are easy to reach, to answer any questions a potential customer may have. You don’t want to miss out on sales because the potential customer left right after waiting too long to get information that would have helped their purchasing decision. 

We’re talking about integrating live chat, that makes communicating with customers quickly, easier than ever. It allows you to deepen those customers relationships through conversations, which ultimately benefits sales. 

In fact, customers who chat with a brand convert three times more often and have a 10 to 15% higher average cart value. Live chat doesn’t need to be on your homepage if you don’t want it to be, and can be placed on strategic areas of your site, like product pages or during key purchasing moments. 

When it comes to customer support, speed is only half the battle. If you’re not courteous speed alone won’t get you very far. Before black Friday and cyber Monday arrive, make sure to take some time to craft standard phrases and replies for common questions and concerns, with all that increased traffic to your store, this can save you a lot of time. When dealing with an upset customer, make sure you do these things. 

  • Use positive language, 
  • set the right expectations, 
  • adapt your tone to the context, 
  • know your product inside and out and 
  • advocate for the concerns of the customer and identify possible solutions. 

This can make a world of difference in your customer relationships. 

Now you should definitely be offering easy and free returns. No one wants to make the wrong decision and waste money on a product that doesn’t solve a problem or give them a tangible benefit. As a result, people can be naturally hesitant to make a purchase decision and are often in need of a little bit of reassurance. If you make the buyer bear all the risk, then you’re going to surely lose out on a lot of sales.

Tracking Data

You need to ensure that your Google analytics is set up correctly. Have you ever heard the saying what isn’t measured, isn’t managed? Well, the influx of traffic that many stores received during black Friday and cyber Monday, is an incredible opportunity to learn more about your customers. 

Make sure your Google analytics is set up correctly, allowing you to gain insights on your customers, the performance of your marketing content and products. This data can give you insight into changes, you need to make, so your site gets better results. 

The more, you know, the more you can act on it and the better you’ll be longterm. 

After Black Friday/ Cyber Monday

Now I want to talk about how to turn seasonal shoppers into year round customers. Just because black Friday and cyber Monday are over, doesn’t mean your relationship with those customers is. 

During black Friday and cyber Monday, you should take a proactive approach to getting your customers to sign up to your email list and follow your social media accounts. It’s so that you can nurture them with valuable content and compelling offers, throughout the year. This is also why it’s so important that you have taken time to install tracking pixels on your site, so that you can expose website visitors to your products and enticing ads all year long. 

Documenting Your Processes

Black Friday and cyber Monday have as much to do with learning lessons to help make you a better business owner as they do with gaining sales and profits. 

When preparing, make sure to document your processes with notes, checklists, screenshots, and spreadsheets. Take detailed notes of what you’re doing so that you can evaluate the outcomes and make improvements next time. As a business owner, constantly documenting and improving your systems and processes is one of the greatest things estimates you can make in your longterm success. See creating a business is in some ways like being an architect, but instead of creating buildings, we design systems and build relationships, that help our mission come to life and store succeed. Not only does documented processes, allow you to find out where tweaks can be made, but if you ever expand your team, having documented processes will help collaboration, and make standardization so much easier. Now I won’t belabor the point, but I can’t stress how important documentation is and how many businesses miss out on its benefits. Black Friday and cyber Monday are a massive opportunity for every online business out there. So don’t get stressed, just get to work.