THIS is the ultimate checklist to ensure your eCommerce store is ready for Black Friday Cyber Monday. Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is an amazing opportunity for your eCommerce store to make money, and more importantly, scale.
Last year, Shopify merchants broke records with $2.9+ billion in worldwide sales over Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Don’t be the one that’s reading the 2021 report thinking why didn’t I do this? Or why didn’t I make this change? If you still need a bit more proof that Shopify is massively scaling then in 2018 over $1.5 billion was collectively sold by Shopify merchants.during BFCM.
If you want to get in on the biggest shopping weekend then NOW is the time to start planning.
Here’s our recommended checklist for getting your store ready for Black Friday Cyber Monday:
1. Prepare for the early birds
Start to prepare your holiday sales as early as you can. Begin by warming your customers up, letting them know that the big event is just around the corner, and inform them about your upcoming sale well in advance.
Research has shown that over 70% of US shoppers plan to participate in BFCM, with that consistently growing every year and more merchants and shoppers around the world are taking advantage of this big event.
Along with informing the early birds and window shoppers about your upcoming sale, you should also start to warm customers up about the products that you offer as well as content for customers looking for gift ideas.
To warm your customers up about BFCM gift ideas you should create a pre-sale landing page of gift ideas, using calls to action throughout, that will get customers engaged and giving you the opportunity to remarket to them throughout BFCM.
2. Have a hero BFCM offer
For years, retailers have used a hero product, or a really good sale on a popular item to get more customers through the door. The thought behind this is when customers come to visit your store for that one item, they’re most likely to pick up other items too on their way to the checkout.
This works really well because the customer has come for one deal and one deal only, but as they’re making their purchase it’s in their heads that they’ve already saved money and got a good deal. Meaning they’re more likely to spend the savings on other items.
A great strategy for this is on your direct marketing such as email or ads, don’t focus on all of your sales at once, but have one hero product that you think your customers will be most interested in.
Whilst this is an amazing strategy and works for many Shopify stores that we work on, it may not work for you. Here are some alternative strategies that you could use:
- Firesale: Create daily deals that are time-sensitive.
- Product box/bundle: Create product boxes or bundles with various different products.
- Spin to win discount: You’ve probably been on a store with a spinning wheel full of offers, this works exceptionally well throughout the BFCM weekend.
Once you’ve brought new visitors to your store with your irresistible offers, it’s time to show them what they want. Customers love to feel like they’re valued and that they’re getting something at a reduced price. You may want to consider these proven strategies to increase your average order value:
- Free Shipping: Offer free shipping above a certain threshold or for customers buying the bundles we mentioned above.
- Product Recommendations: Offer discounts on complimentary products.
- Gift Ideas: Suggest gift ideas at the checkout stage.
3. Create contingency plans
If there’s something you should DEFINITELY DO on this checklist, it’s creating a contingency plan. BFCM is one of the busiest weekends for eCommerce, whilst it’s amazing for sales, one tiny slip up could see it all come crashing down. Don’t let that be you.
Do you have proper backups in place? Let’s put this in the perspective of the customer. You’re on a store, sat there with your card ready to checkout, you click checkout and BOOM… Your website is down.
We see it happen all too often here at Rainy City. If you don’t create proper backups then your store could be down for quite some time and you could be losing thousands in sales. For our clients, we recommend using Rewind Backups to make sure you have a proper backup and that you can get your store back online as quickly as possible.
Throughout BFCM couriers are shipping all over the world, it’s one of the most popular times of the year for online shopping, but what happens if your shipping company becomes too busy? Do you have enough stock if you sell out too quickly? And how fast can you restock?
All of these worries are certainly magnified throughout the BFCM weekend. Be sure to start planning early and use as many safety nets as possible to make BFCM 2021 a success in your Shopify store.
Prepare for high demand
4. Test your e-Commerce store for BFCM
We really can’t stress this enough. Test, test, test. Too many requests to your store at the same time can lead to slow loading speeds and could crash your site. As you’d imagine, this will mean a massive drop off in traffic and lost sales. Be sure to check with your host to see if they can handle a spike in traffic.
Luckily Shopify promises its customers a 99.98% uptime. At any time, customers can check the status of Shopify’s infrastructure.
5. Ensure you have enough stock for your store
Whether you’re relying on a supplier for your inventory or your product is created by your team, keep in mind that you may experience increased demand throughout the BFCM weekend.
To help predict sales and to make sure you have enough inventory for the holiday season, use forecasting tools to predict sales and order enough inventory and supplies before BFCM.
Prepare your campaigns and creatives
6. Create banners and hero images to advertise BFCM sales
There’s no point having a sale if no one knows about it. By now you should be well on your way to having finalised your BFCM sale banners. If not then don’t worry too much, there’s still time. We recommend going for something simple
Still struggling for banners? You can use tools like Canva or hire a graphic designer.
7. Plan ads and ad copy
Your ads and ad copy should be high on your priority list. We recently caught up with Peter Carter from Rainy City Consulting to ask him how to get the most bang for your buck throughout the BFCM weekend.
Test and optimize for conversion
8. Create cart abandonment emails
According to Barilliance, the average cart abandonment rate on Black Friday 2018 in the US was 82%. Of course, you’ll want to try and keep that number as low as possible.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is by setting up targeted abandoned cart emails. This way, when a customer adds a product to their cart but leaves your store, you can use a compelling email to bring them back to complete their purchase.
9. Mobile-First Designs
Over the years we’ve seen more and more customers shopping on mobile. Have you tested your store’s user experience on mobile? How easy is it to make a purchase?
All themes on Shopify are responsive and mobile-friendly, but if you’re not on Shopify you may want to consider testing how your store looks on a mobile device.
10. Check your tracking pixels
If you’re running paid ads on social media or PPC, double-check your tracking pixels and make sure you have all the pixels in place that you need to have a successful BFCM weekend.
You should have retargeting pixels in place on your website so you can remarket your visitors.
- How to create a Custom Audience pixel on Facebook
- How to tag your site for remarketing on Google AdWords
Marketing and promotions
11. Retarget past visitors and customers
Retarget past website visitors throughout the holiday season. When doing this you’ll be able to pick people up that have previously been on your store. Generally, this traffic tends to be a bit warmer and more likely to convert as most of the time they’re already familiar with your brand.
Another effective strategy is to retarget customers that have previously made a purchase.
12. Create blogs and gift guides
Start to develop content such as blogs and gift guides to warm your audience up of offers that are coming up and gift guides that your customers may be interested in.
If you want to go an extra step and make sure your store gets as much exposure as possible, reach out to websites within your niche or that are closely related such as online magazines and blogs, and ask them about featuring your products and upcoming sales.
13. Kick off with your email marketing campaigns
Email marketing is still very effective, especially in the holiday season. Consumers are already warmed up and familiar with the idea that they’ll be receiving product offers and discounts so be sure to start early to warm your list up.
Begin to plan, create, and schedule your emails that you’ll be sending out during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Here are some email campaign ideas that we highly recommend.
- Kick-off email: Let your lists know what’s coming. Send details of your sale ahead of time and follow up with a reminder when your sales start. Get creative! Every business will be doing something similar so let your creative juices flow to give you the best opportunity to cut through the noise.
- Firesale: Be prepared to create some last-minute emails if you have an exclusive offer. We recommend creating some templates in advance so you can quickly send them out.
- Last chance: In the lead up to the end of the BFCM weekend, start to make your lists aware that your sale is about to end. This is a fantastic way to edge those window shoppers who’ve been considering buying but haven’t done so yet.
- Subscriber exclusive deals: Make your subscribers feel important, they’ve parted with their email to receive your offers. Make them feel special by offering exclusive discounts for email subscribers.🔥TIP: Make your website visitors, social followers, and any other marketing channels that you may have that you’ll be offering exclusive discounts for subscribers.
Plan BFCM sales in advance
14. Customer loyalty
Every business will have a loyal customer base that makes up the majority of their revenue. The holiday season is a great time to build on this, but also establish a stronger relationship with those customers that shop around a bit more.
As per our last point, you should focus the majority of your marketing on making your customers feel special. A really good way of doing this is as we said before, offering exclusive sales to subscribers or offering existing customers a chance to access a sale early.
15. Scarcity marketing
There are loads of different shopping personalities, it sounds weird but it’s true. Especially in the holiday season, you have your last-minute shoppers who leave things to the very last second. On the other hand, you have your prepared shoppers that want to get everything sorted, and last but not least, your window shoppers, these are the shoppers that will view your emails, check out your website but won’t make a purchase.
A really good way of getting all types of shoppers involved in your sale is to use scarcity marketing. This sounds a bit brutal but it works. Don’t shy away from letting your shoppers know that a deal is about to end, or if you have a very popular product, let them know that it’s likely that it will sell out very fast.
Countdown timers, left in stock alerts or a limited offer are all great strategies to implement.
Customer Support throughout BFCM
16. Use a live chat system
This should apply at all times but it’s very important that your customer service is on its A-game throughout your sale. Quick response times, resolutions, and answering those simple questions can go a long way and often lead to a customer returning to buy more products from you.
Make sure your business is accessible on all platforms that you use so that customers can get in touch and that you’re able to solve any potential issues and answer any questions quickly.
17. Ensure you have quick and courteous responses
The holiday season is one of the busiest times for customer support. Offering a great customer service experience is really important. To save time but to keep your customers happy and up-to-date, create a few standard responses to help you deliver more consistent customer service.
Every business will experience upset customers, how you deal with these situations is crucial. If done right, you can potentially create a repeat customer out of a bad experience. This doesn’t mean trying to upset customers on purpose but on the rare occasion that a customer has had a bad experience you should have a plan in place for your customer service team on how to deal with upset customers effectively and empathetically.
Create standardized templates, but be sure to check them before sending to avoid any further confusion and upset.
18. Hassle-free returns
I’ve bought a shirt for someone but it’s the wrong size, I thought I wanted a black bag but I ordered a red, can I exchange? We’ve heard it all throughout our years of experience running, building, and helping businesses with their Shopify stores.
It’s a very frantic time for shoppers, mistakes can be made and exchanges will most certainly be needed throughout this period. Make sure your return policy is well-communicated throughout your store, clear and to the point, and fair. Having a great returns policy not only helps stressed customers get the products they need faster, but can also work wonders for getting those window shoppers to convert.
Rounding up Black Friday Cyber Monday
19. Be memorable throughout 2021 BFCM weekend
If all of the steps on this list are executed well within your Shopify store, then you’re going to have a great BFCM if all goes to plan. Planning for BFCM is so important, not just to increase profits throughout the holiday season, but to be memorable and try to turn that seasonal one-off purchases into lifetime customers.
Once 2021 BFCM is out of the way you should be consistent with your marketing and remember that one-off purchase that customers have made and start to build a relationship with them with your marketing. Keep your customers engaged all year round with email marketing campaigns to invite them to follow you on social media.
You can also get those one-time purchasers re-engaged with retargeting ads too.
20. Track Analyze and Reflect
Be sure to have tracking pixels, analytics and heatmaps in place throughout this 2021 BFCM. Tracking customers and user journeys throughout your store and marketing efforts will give you everything you need to know throughout the year to be even better next year, but also improve your current marketing strategy.
A really good way of having a clearer vision for your marketing department is to document everything. Create a workspace such as a folder on a server for data and documenting your marketing efforts. It’s great to have these because you may be able to use the data to improve your marketing throughout the year, but also giving you a benchmark for next year.
Is your eCommerce store ready for Black Friday Cyber Monday 2021? If not, schedule your free strategy session below to ensure you scale throughout the holiday season.