Cyber Monday/Black Friday Checklist for Retailers
The post-Thanksgiving shopping season is almost here again, a time when most retailers focus on attracting their share of the customers who come out in greater numbers than at any other time of year.
And for small and mid-size retailers, that can be a challenge. Offering customers an incentive to spend their hard-earned dollars on your products or services at a time when so many others are vying for their attention isn’t as simple as just holding a big sale. It also requires careful planning and preparation, as well as some creative thinking.
Although it’s best to begin preparation months in advance, if you find yourself just weeks away from the big event without a plan in place, you still have time to get set up. With that in mind, we offer this Cyber Monday/Black Friday checklist to get ready for the year’s busiest shopping season.
Cyber Monday and Black Friday Checklist for Retailers
Step 1: Choose your promotion. What can you offer shoppers that they won’t find somewhere else? In a season with an almost overwhelming amount of competition for their attention, this can be a difficult question. To find a good answer, it may be helpful to think outside the box.
In other words, you’ll want to consider not just what item in your lineup of products or services is most likely to catch the attention of shoppers, but also what you can offer them in terms of convenience or timing at a busy time of year. Begin by thinking of what motivates your existing customers based on past trends or successful sales, and how that aligns with the inventory you have on hand.
Pro Tips: Whatever you ultimately decide to offer shoppers, make sure you have the inventory and delivery channels available to meet greater-than-usual demand.
Step 2: Create a marketing plan. Once you’ve decided upon the right post-Thanksgiving promotion, your next step is creating a marketing plan to communicate it. Depending on your specific business niche and customer base, the most effective method way of doing this could be via website banners and display ads, email, social media, ads in your local newspaper, or some other combination thereof.
If you’re an online-focused retailer, it’s strongly recommended that you create a unique landing page to communicate your promotion, then drive traffic to it via a series of blog posts, paid online ads (PPC), social media and emails. (It should also be noted that, during the Cyber Monday/Black Friday season, customers pay extra attention to promotions delivered via email and social media.)
Large businesses likely have their plan already locked in months in advance, but for smaller businesses, well-crafted marketing messages delivered a week or even a few days before the sale can be just as effective. But the earlier you can begin planning, the more realistic your timeframe for deliverables will be, and the better you’ll be positioned to meet the demand you generate.
Pro Tips: It’s essential that everything is finalized and ready to roll at least a week before Thanksgiving. If you’ve got an on-staff marketing team, it’s time to sit down and make plans. If not, this is the time to contact an outsourced sales and marketing provider for help.
Step 3: Test your website and tech infrastructure. As you focus on offering a great promotion that can lure customers away from the competition, don’t forget to make sure your tech infrastructure is up to the task of accommodating them. Especially for eCommerce businesses, the last thing you want is a website or network failure at a time when you’re deliberately sending more people to your site.
Make sure your IT team understands the importance of testing your site and shopping cart. Double-check any promotional URLs, landing pages and general workflows to weed out errors or broken links. Consult your hosting partner to make sure your network can accommodate the spike in traffic. Any non-essential site updates should be postponed until after your sale has concluded.
Pro Tips: Now more than any other time of the year, 100% uptime is essential. If you have any doubts about your current hosting provider, consider partnering with a dedicated tech outsourcing company that can get the job done.
Step 4: Double-check your customer care capabilities. Along with increased demand on your website and shopping infrastructure, you should prepare your customer care team to field more inquiries during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And this is no small consideration during a holiday season when many of your team members may otherwise prefer to be at home with their families.
So, it’s important to create a schedule that allows staff members to perform as much as they can before or after the holidays, while also preparing them to work certain evening and overnight shifts to accommodate customer demand. And, of course, that team should be fully up to date on every last detail of your promotion so they can efficiently answer any questions that come their way.
Pro Tips: Few things will disrupt your chances to make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday than a failure on the part of your customer service team. Prepare by anticipating relevant customer inquiries and preparing automated responses where possible.
Step 5: Perform a security check. Unfortunately, high levels of customer activity present opportunities not only for retailers, but for hackers, as well. At a time when you’re soliciting customer information at a particularly high level, it’s essential to make sure that the security underlying your technology is as good as it can possibly be.
Because of a high level of data breaches that have made headlines over the past half-decade, customers are more aware of security than ever before. That means a lack of security on your part could make the difference whether a shopper chooses you or your competition. So, make it a point to double-check your processes for protecting consumer data as far in advance as possible.
Pro Tips: : A key part of the security you offer is the confidence it inspires, so don’t forget to let your customers know about it in your marketing messaging.
Need Help Fulfilling Your Black Friday Checklist? We Can Help.
Our Cyber Monday/Black Friday checklist hits the most important aspects of preparing for the post-Thanksgiving sales season, but there are plenty of other items that merit consideration, too. For instance, it’s essential to make sure that all your vendors are equally up-to-date on everything on this list. You should also be prepared to apply any lessons you learn this year to the next sales season.
If that seems like more than you care to handle, we can help. Working Solutions has more than 20 years of experience helping a wide variety of businesses implement the customer care, technology, security and back-office infrastructure required to get the most from the post-Thanksgiving season.
Time is running out. Contact us today to discover how we can help your business prepare for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond.Let's connect.