9 Ways Businesses Can Prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The holiday shopping season may still be a few months away, but the time to start planning for it is now. Especially for businesses offering online retail season, preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday means not only creating a strategy but also making the first moves to implement it months in advance.
Businesses that fail to do so risk being left behind. Every year, the seasonal shopping boom that kicks off on Black Friday and peaks on Cyber Monday gets bigger and bigger, and nowhere is that growth more apparent than in eCommerce. According to a CNBC report, online sales hit a record $6.2 billion in 2018, 23.6% higher than the previous year—and that’s just for Black Friday.
“Online sales hit a record $6.2 billion in 2018, 23.6% higher than the previous year—and that’s just for Black Friday.” Click To Tweet
For Cyber Monday, the internet shopping frenzy that follows Black Friday by just a few days, the numbers were even more jaw-dropping. According to Adobe Analytics, retail sales on Cyber Monday 2018 reached more than $7.9 billion, an increase of almost 20% of the year before, making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history (so far).
Also noteworthy is the fact that more than $2 billion of those sales came from smartphones, while the number of consumers choosing in-store pickup for their online purchases rocketed up a record-breaking 50%. This growth in the popularity of “click-and-collect” means that even primarily brick-and-mortar retailers have an opportunity to boost their sales during what’s increasingly an online-based sales event.
“More than $2 billion of sales increase in 2018 came from smartphone, while the number of consumers choosing in-store pickup for their online purchases rocketed up a record-breaking 50%.” Click To Tweet
Impressive as these records are, they’re likely to be broken again in 2019—and again the in 2020, and again the year after that, ad infinitum. The message to online retailers is clear: Get on board by preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, or miss out on a golden opportunity to boost your revenue. And we’ve assembled a few helpful tips to do just that.
9 Ways Retailers Can Get Ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
1. Plan Your Sales Well in Advance. During the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping frenzy, some products sell better than others. While it’s true that this time generally sees steep discounts on consumer electronics or home goods, consumer interest is by no means restricted to these items. Indeed, businesses may profit by counterprogramming their sales, promoting items that other retailers ignore.
Your approach could be to offer a huge discount on a specific item or a broad coupon that can be applied to any purchase. Look at your past activity for the holiday months and build on what customers typically gravitate toward for this time—or focus on an item that they don’t, to help round out your sales figures in other areas.
2. Start Getting the Word Out. After you’ve determined which of your products or services are likely to generate interest among shoppers (or which you want to ramp up sales for your own operational best interests), it’s time to formulate a strategy that best beefs up consumer interest.
While the summer months are indeed a bit too early to promote your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, once September and October roll around, you’re going to want to have your strategy locked down. This is essential when you start teasing your sale on the typical channels consumers watch—social media, email marketing and in-app messages.
3. Ramp Up Your Customer Service Team. Big sales mean heightened consumer interest. As a result, it’s much more likely that your call center team will be fielding a larger amount of inquiries than usual during the days and weeks surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
So, two things must be in order. First, it’s essential to make sure you have a customer care staffing plan that’s ready for this seasonal surge in interest and activity. Second, make sure your contact service agents are well-trained and educated in every last detail of your promotion or sale so they can efficiently answer any questions.
4. Plan for Off-peak Shopping. Not only should your customer service agents be fully prepared and informed about every facet of your Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday promotions, but they should also be ready to work in evening and overnight shifts to accommodate customer demand.
As the Adobe report makes clear, post-Thanksgiving holiday shoppers tend to prefer to shop during the time right before they go to bed—specifically, between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time (EST). That means your customer care team should expect activity during a time that’s usually quite—and you should make sure your staffing plan can accommodate it with no lapses in service.
5. Double-check Your Call Center Tech. After you’ve spent the time and money preparing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, it’s imperative to make sure that you offer customers 100% uptime during this important period. Whether your tech infrastructure is handled by an in-house IT team or an outsourced expert, you should consult them to be ready for increased activity.
Are the servers that host your website ready for a huge surge in traffic? Is your call center optimized to ensure no calls are dropped during this critical time? If you can’t confidently answer “yes,” it’s time to make the appropriate inquiries to prepare the necessary bandwidth and uptime to avoid any disruptive, mid-sale outages.
6. Get Your App Ready. App sales are growing every year, and have become an integral part of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales activity. This may apply more to larger retailers. The Adobe report points out that businesses with $1 billion or more in annual e-commerce revenue saw 6% higher conversion rates on smartphones.
Yet even for smaller retailers, the shift to smartphone-focused shopping can’t be ignored and shouldn’t be: Developing an app is a great opportunity to give yourself a channel to reach shoppers where they’re most likely to be found. According to Shopify, 59% of consumers “use a retail app up to five times a week”. So, if you don’t yet have a fully functional app for customers to download, you’re missing out.
7. Get Your Omnichannel Strategy in Place. All those click-and-collect consumers will expect seamless service, as will anybody shopping on your app. There shouldn’t be any disconnect between transactions made online and the in-store experiences.
On top of that, all of your contact center communications—marketing emails, social media messaging, even the scripts your call center agents read—should be in sync with the sales you’re offering. Your agents should also have at their disposal the past history with every customer with whom they speak. If you haven’t yet done so, you need to implement a fully omnichannel communications strategy well in advance of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping surge.
8. Beef Up Your Security. It’s unfortunate, but undeniable: We live in an era in which hackers regularly target sensitive consumer data, such as sensitive personal information and financial data, successfully breaching the data security defenses of major retailers and institutions on an all-too-regular basis.
And thanks to the intense media coverage these breaches receive, consumers are acutely aware of them, too. Given this, they are increasingly reluctant to shop with businesses that haven’t put in place tough data security measures. If you haven’t yet done so, it’s time to double-check your own processes to protect consumer data—and don’t forget to let your customers know about these efforts when you promote your sales.
9. Make Sure You Can Back Up Your Sales. Okay, let’s assume that you’re successful with all of the above, and you generate a record-breaking amount of sales for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. Now ask yourself: Do you have the operational infrastructure to make sure you can deliver on all of those sales in a timely way?
This is a crucial point: Consumers who are happy to have scored a great deal with you are likely to lose their enthusiasm pretty quickly if whatever they’ve don’t receive their purchases (almost) immediately. If you don’t have the operational processes in place to deliver on your promises, you’re likely to experience canceled sales and angry customers, in which case all of your efforts preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday could backfire.
9 Ways Retailers Can Get Ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Need to enlist business process outsourcing to help back up your sales promises or turn to an on-demand contact center service to help ensure responsive and high-quality customer care? In either case, preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales can be much easier with the help of a dedicated expert with a proven track record of helping businesses like yours fulfill their full potential.
With more than 20 years of experience in customer care, Working Solutions is the go-to choice for a wide variety of businesses to deliver premium outsourced services in customer care, order fulfillment, data security and much more.
Contact us today to discover how we can help your business not only prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but achieve operational excellence all year ‘round.Let's connect.