Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will be aware of the hugely popular retail event that takes place just after Thanksgiving every year! After a day spent feasting with family and the official start of holiday festivities, the Christmas shopping period can also begin! And of course, how else would it start, but with the much-anticipated shopping event, named Black Friday.
It’s a day when stores, online and offline, offer massive discounts on goods ranging from toys to electronics, gifts to fashion and of course, all the latest hot products. It’s a day bursting with fantastic shopping deals not seen at any other time of year, and in recent years is not only confined to the United States. Black Friday is now a global event.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s more! Equally crucial for retailers, and savvy buyers, is Cyber Monday; this is the first day after the long Thanksgiving weekend and another busy day for retailers.
Last year, according to the Washington Post, 174 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. Those shoppers spent an average of $335 per person, and in a single 24 hours, American shoppers spent a record $5 billion. It’s unsurprising then that every retailer, online and offline wants a piece of this billion-dollar pie!
This year, Black Friday will take place on Friday, November 26, with Cyber Monday on Monday, November 29.
The weekend is expected to be busier than ever before, particularly for online retailers due to the effects of COVID-19 and demand for online purchases more significant than ever.
For ecommerce retailers, this is guaranteed to be a lucrative period, yet Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not events that can be managed off the cuff! You must plan and prepare well in advance to achieve the most benefit for your ecommerce business.
So, with this in mind, here are the ten most important things you should do, as an ecommerce seller, whether you sell on Amazon or have your own ecommerce store, to make sure you are prepared for what is a hugely lucrative time of year.
1. Create Hype!
Everyone has FOMO – ‘fear of missing out’. So, as the build-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaches, it’s super important that you start hyping things up and become a bit of a tease!
Social Media: Starting around 10 days before the big event, begin putting out regular teasers on your social media.
- “Don’t Miss Our Black Friday Sale”
- “Cyber Monday Specials”
- “Our Black Friday Deals are Coming”
- “Don’t Miss Our Lowest Ever Prices”
You’ll sub-consciously filter into people’s minds so that when you finally advertise your offer, they will already be interested, ready and waiting for it!
Newsletter: Encourage people to sign up to your free newsletter and to receive ‘price alerts’ on Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts. This is another way of playing on that fear of missing out.
“Sign up to our newsletter and be first to hear about our Black Friday deals!”
Forums: Post in forums which relate to your niche or products. Include details of the items you will have exclusive offers available on and convey a sense of urgency. Remember not to be pushy or sales-y though.
2. Target Customers Through your Email List
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘the money’s in the list’. Well, this is definitely true when it comes to offering discounts. Your newsletter subscribers are already ‘warm’. They know you; they are likely to have purchased from you previously, and so they are prime customers to specifically target based on their preferences – which you already know.
Split your list into customers and prospects and target them based on their status. So, for example, instead of offering every subscriber 40% off everything, offer your previous customers 40% off a product which is relevant to their last purchase and offer your prospects 40% off store-wide. This way, you will get a better conversion rate.
You should send these emails out around a week before Black Friday or Cyber Monday to whet their appetites – and to avoid your offer being lost in a sea of others on the event days themselves.
3. Work Out Unique Deals – Not Artificial Deals
Customers are savvy. Don’t spam your customers or prospects with ridiculously cheap, lazy pre-event offers. Do that, and you will just end up damaging your brand. Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a sale!
Customers will be able to work out whether your deal is good or just an artificial saving – for example, if you’ve quoted an inflated RRP. Real deals though, will be rewarded with sales and loyalty.
For uniqueness, pick products to discount that have optional accessories. This way, you can discount the main product but leave the accessories at full price, allowing you to recoup some of the discount.
Look through your inventory in advance, consider which of your products are popular, which of those can handle a discount and still make a profit. By doing this you will be able to offer genuine, good value deals during Black Friday and Cyber Monday events rather than blindly knocking percentages off store-wide with no real planning or concept of how effective your discounts will be.
4. Consider Bundling Products to Create Gift Sets
On the topic of ensuring you offer a tempting deal, creating a unique set or gift bundle is an effective way to increase your average order value. Instead of purchasing one item in a single transaction, your customers will actually be buying several things at once.
Combine several of your best-selling (related) products to make a gift set and include the keywords ‘gift set’ in your product title. This immediately appeals to shoppers who are lacking inspiration for Christmas presents!
The key with gift sets is to start bundling them in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday so that they are pre-packed and ready to ship. When the orders start flowing, all you’ll need to do is add the shipping label – or utilize Amazon FBA, more on that later, as you must be able to fulfil your orders quickly and efficiently.
5. Stock Up Your Inventory!
By offering discounted goods, you are going to increase your order levels, and of course, this inevitably requires you to ensure you have enough inventory to meet this increased seasonal demand.
Carefully calculating your suppliers lead times is critical to ensure you have enough time to take delivery of your stock in good time. Compare your sales from the same period from previous years to judge seasonal demand, but also take into account your sales over the past few months. Online shopping has increased during COVID-19, so have your sales also increased?
Taking action, calculating and completing this task well in advance of your sale event, ideally around eight weeks prior, will ensure you have extra time, should unforeseen problems occur. For example, if your supplier is unable to meet your required stock quantities, or if there is a shipping delay.
Top Tip: If you want to offer a Black Friday deal in a product, but margins are tight, it’s worth speaking with your supplier in advance and negotiating a preferential rate for a larger seasonal order.
6. Take Advantage of Amazon’s Black Friday Event
While Black Friday has become a hugely popular global event for retailers large and small, Amazon has also been running its own Black Friday deals for years!
If you are an ecommerce seller with your own online store and you don’t currently take advantage of selling on Amazon as another income stream, then you should. It’s a fantastic opportunity for ecommerce sellers to make even more sales simply because Amazon always sees a considerable upturn in traffic during their Black Friday event, which typically starts weeks before the official date!
Of course, to take advantage and to benefit, once again, you must be prepared with enough inventory to cope with the additional demand. As you might expect, there are thousands of sellers all offering deals so you must prepare in advance so that your deals are seen, and shoppers buy from you, not your competitors.
- Tip 1: Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers are expecting a good deal, so make sure you offer discounted goods and free shipping for maximum effect.
- Tip 2: Just as you considered creating a ‘gift set’ as an incentive to shoppers visiting your store, also make an exclusive, unique ‘bundle offer’ for Amazon shoppers only. In doing so, you will win the ‘Buy Box’ which is super crucial for visibility.
- Tip 3: On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you are likely to receive many questions and enquiries about your products. Be prepared to respond swiftly because you are then more likely to win the sale!
7. Ship Your Inventory to FBA On Time
If you are already an Amazon FBA seller, then this should not be an issue for you as you will be familiar with the process. However, if you are utilizing Amazon’s fulfilment service purely for seasonal orders, then you must understand and adhere to the correct timeline, ensuring your inventory arrives at the right warehouse in time.
For the 2021 Black Friday event, you’ll need to ensure your inventory arrives at Amazon fulfilment centers by November 2.
8. Optimize your Product Listings in Advance
This applies both to your ecommerce store and of course to listings on the Amazon platform.
Keywords: This is how shoppers find your products – it doesn’t matter where they are listed – it’s always the quality of your keywords that affect the visibility. So, optimizing your product titles and descriptions with relevant keywords helps your product rank, either in organic search results or in Amazon’s search results.
You should give all your product listings a once-over, prepare and tweak your keywords in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you’re going to offer a ‘gift set’ or ‘bundle’ deal, then you should add keywords including ‘gift’, ‘Christmas present’ or ‘holiday gift’ to your titles and descriptions. However, don’t be tempted to add holiday focused keywords to products which are non-seasonal or unsuitable as holiday products!
It’s tempting to try and catch all sales. But remember that although traffic will increase and you’ll potentially get more eyes on your ‘gift’ products during this event, impressions for your non-holiday products are unlikely to convert to sales, which could end up harming your overall ranking.
Images: Make sure your product includes a high-quality image that shows your product at its absolute best. This will draw shoppers to your product and allow them to see precisely what they will be purchasing. Make sure you replace any low-quality images in advance of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday event to ensure you are a step ahead of your competitors.
9. Optimize your PPC campaigns
On the topic of keywords, you must check any PPC campaigns you may have running, whether that is on Google or Amazon and optimize those campaigns in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Your ads will need to be running before, during and after for you to benefit from the massive influx of online traffic. So your ads will need to be optimized for the best keywords that convert to sales. Prepare by going through your keywords. Remove any that are higher than your ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sale) benchmark, along with any that simply aren’t converting for you.
By streamlining your PPC keywords, you will ensure your products have the best chance of appearing at the top of the search results.
The simple message is ‘plan and prepare.’ Since the COVID-19 pandemic, ecommerce sales have soared, with more people shopping online than ever before. This is only set to rise further as we approach the holiday season, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
However, you should not use these events to attempt to offload products that have proven difficult to sell. You will benefit from choosing your best-selling products and promoting those either singularly or as gifts and bundles rather than wasting time trying to promote products that shoppers are not interested in. In this case, a discount is unlikely to change their mind!