How Should Retailers Prepare For Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2020?
Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend has always been one of the most important dates for retailers, regardless if they are eCommerce based only, brick-and-mortar, or a mix of both. But this year is different.
With COVID-19 uncertainty, there were some rumors that BFCM will be canceled this year. Such companies as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, and more others, announced that they will be closed on Thanksgiving, ending the Black Friday tradition. Another interesting point is that some companies decided to start the season as early as October, to avoid massive waves of people, and ensure safety. Moreover, Amazon reportedly moved its Prime day to October 5 – very close to BFCM weekend. All this shows that this year, we can expect Black Friday Cyber Monday deals starting as early as October and being stretched out much longer than usual.
For sure, BFCM is going to be different this year. Retailers have to ensure safety measures and protocols in physical stores. Also, we can expect much more action happening online, as we already noticed a spike in online shoppers due to COVID-19. Moreover, even last year, shoppers in the U.S. spent $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe, and that’s a 19.7% YOY growth. Thus, this is why this article mostly focuses on the eCommerce side of the business.
No one can know for sure how this will play out in reality, but one thing we know – better be prepared than sorry. This is why we created a complete 28-point checklist to make sure retailers are ready for Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2020.
Complete 28-point Checklist To Prepare For Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2020:
- Guarantee Hygiene & Safety
- Make Sure You Have Enough Stock And Reliable Supply Chain
- Start Yesterday – Customers Are Already Researching
- Set Up Clear Goals For Black Friday Cyber Monday
- Organize Sales And Special Offers
- Find The Right Discounts
- Monitor Competition Carefully
- Optimize Your Products
- Plan Your Budget For BFCM
- Start Designing Your Creatives
- Entice Shoppers with Strong Ad Copy
- Build Anticipation With Emails And Social Media
- Stand Out On Social Media
- Work With Bloggers And Influencers On Gift Guides
- Enhance Your Remarketing Efforts
- Hand The Mic To Customers Via Referral Programs
- Loyal Customers Deserve Your Reward
- Create Collections for Higher Average-Order-Value
- Merchandise Your Search Results
- Set Up Abandoned Cart Email Reminders
- Don’t Forget Mobile Users
- Test Your Shopping Experience
- Set Up Tracking And Analytics To Leverage Data In The Future
- Make Sure Your Site Can Handle the Rush!
- Back It Up
- Analyze Data And Reflect
- Step Up Your Review Game
- Turn BFCM Visitors Into Returning Shoppers
BFCM is a popular abbreviation for Black Friday and Cyber Monday holidays. Black Friday is happening the day after the USA Thanksgiving holiday, this year, it is November 27th, 2020. Usually, it marks the beginning of Christmas Holiday shopping. Cyber Monday is happening on the following Monday – November 30th, 2020.
Apart from the days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s most significant difference is that you can find Black Friday sales online and in physical shops. At the same time, Cyber Monday is devoted to online discounts only. On the other hand, these descriptions are not specific constraints, as we’ve seen for many years now, Black Friday starting much earlier, and Cyber Monday extending to Cyber Week, etc. Current trends also show that we expect a much more extended period of BFCM sales (before & after).
Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) In Europe
BFCM started gaining popularity in Europe around 2006. While it’s not the stampede of deal-hungry shoppers that the U.S. experiences, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are quickly becoming two of the biggest European holiday shopping days. According to FierceRetail, Black Friday spending in Europe was up over 500% a few years ago, compared to the shopping done on a typical Friday. And while it hasn’t yet reached American-grade levels of fame and frenzy, being prepared and knowing what to expect can help you reach savvy shoppers while increasing your holiday sales.
Tackling 2020 COVID Reality
1. Guarantee Hygiene & Safety
You probably don’t need to be reminded of this, but still – if you decide to run an in-store Black Friday, you should take extra precautions to make sure that your store and visitors are not contributing to the virus spread. Having a Coronavirus outbreak in your store would not only kill your sales, but it can damage your brand as well.
The same goes for the online part of your business. Take into consideration such things as safe, no-contact delivery, and think well of the return process.
In Black Friday Cyber Monday 2020 it’s super important to ensure safe, no-contact delivery and return process.
One of the best practices we would recommend in this situation, when advertising your BFCM deals, communicate the safety measures you’ll be taking. This will serve as a reminder for the potential buyers, as well as it should help to indicate that you are contributing to creating a safe environment for your customers and employees.
2.Make Sure You Have Enough Stock And Reliable Supply Chain
Coronavirus and global lockdown already demonstrated how easily usual infrastructure and supply chains could be disrupted. With manufacturing falling to operate, and delivery companies not coping well with the increased number of parcels, many retailers had to impose limitations on their stock. So you should have a clear contingency plan to avoid this happening during Black Friday 2020.
Think carefully if you have enough reserve stock and employees – maybe it’s worth it to temporarily increase your staff in fulfillment centers and customer support teams. Also, consider alternative suppliers and couriers in advance if the ones you already work with wouldn’t meet your needs. Offering good discounts is a good thing for customers, but if you can ship it timely, this will result in frustrated users, damaged reputation, and low retention of users.
Start Preparing For Black Friday Cyber Monday Early
3. Start Yesterday – Customers Are Already Researching
You may think you have plenty of time before the holiday rush sets in, but consider the fact that planning your campaigns, creatives, and improvements today can save you time and prevent a panicked rush months from now. Fortunately, whether you’re just getting started with Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotions or you’re a holiday retail veteran, organizing your campaigns and sales is easier now than it has ever been.
Many potential customers are thinking ahead and researching Black Friday Cyber Monday discounts as early as October.
The time is ripe for creating things like buyer’s guides and planning out where and when you’ll announce discounts and what products (or range of products) they’ll apply to. Many potential customers are thinking ahead and planning out their holiday shopping in October — as a business, you should do the same. Make sure you look well in Google Shopping to catch early researchers.
4. Set Up Clear Goals For Black Friday Cyber Monday
This is a critical point of this BFCM checlist – work on your goals. Check your current data and historical data from Black Friday Cyber Monday sales. Look for what could be improved – maybe the retention is dropping. BFCM is a perfect opportunity to improve KPIs. Try thinking what it can bring to your business: maybe you need to clear out stock, perhaps acquire new customers, or re-engage old ones, or perhaps you want to promote a new product launch, and so one. Clearly set goals should help you have a clear vision of planning your sales in the most profitable way.
5. Organize Sales And Special Offers
When you have your goals all lined up, the next step is to plan sales and craft irresistible offers. Check your products and their data carefully to find the right margins and inventory. Also, don’t forget to research what is trending right now. This is especially important now, as COVID-19 heavily impacted our way of living, and thus the priorities. Step into your customer’s shoes by reading forums, social media, marketplaces, and reviews platforms. Knowing what customers need and want right now can be a great indicator of what sales you should create.
Another critical point here is that sale alone is not enough. Try applying some more advanced strategies to craft offers that customers simply can’t refuse. For example, bundle deals, free shipping, gamification, limited time offers, and cross-selling with items that fit the original product. Also, don’t miss a chance to upsell your existing customers.
As for the planning part, we recommend creating a spreadsheet to map all your sales with details. This way, you won’t be creating and putting out sales at the last moment.
6. Find The Right Discounts
Think carefully through this – 20% BFCM discount may not move the needle if your competitors are offering 50%. Be strategic here – you need to craft your offers to make them significant enough for users to come. Another option is to consider alternative offerings, such as “buy 2, get 1 for free”. Also, make the discounts simple – no one likes complicated calculations and misleading copy. Keep it simple and easy to understand, for example, “ 30% off for only one week”.
7. Monitor Competition Carefully
Having a clear image of what your competitors are up to will help you plan your Black Friday Cyber Monday sales and campaigns. One of the best ways to know is to subscribe to their mailing lists, this way, you’ll be notified, and will be able to tweak your own campaigns, if necessary. Also, keep an eye on how often and that type of promotional emails they send. You should also monitor their social media activity, especially the ads section – the Facebook Ad Section allows that. Knowing that your rivals are doing is always useful, just don’t get too inspired – nobody likes copy cats.
8. Optimize Your Products
How the products look makes a significant impact on buyers’ decisions, so losing a customer because of poor copy or images is unforgivable. Make sure that the products you planned BFCM sales on are well off. Review their images and descriptions carefully – maybe it’s time to refresh it and make it more desirable and compelling.
Also, consider the review section; maybe you need to collect more and better reviews before the big sales start. You could take it a step further by including some UGC in your product information, such as real customer photos/videos and reviews. Visual UGC can work like magic, as it creates trust in the brand and makes the shopping experience more engaging.
If you are not already doing it, one more idea is to implement pop-ups, creating urgency and scarcity, such as “only one left” or “limited time offer”, etc.
9. Plan Your Budget For BFCM
This preparation doesn’t just extend to the items you’re selling and things like your advertising and marketing budget. Expect competition to be higher during this lucrative time of year, especially in 2020, as more and more brands are moving online. Thus, adjust your budget to compensate for the higher bid and ad prices.
When planning your budget, dive deep into the data you have from the last BFCM to explore what performed best. Maybe you’ve seen users who came from Instagram had the highest AOV previous year; thus, maybe this channel deserves a boost this year to reach the AOV goal.
Dig into last years Black Friday Cyber Monday data to plan your budget better this year.
It helps to create a spreadsheet denoting the item(s) you want to sell, the regular and sales price you want to set, when to start and end your ad campaign, and where you want to promote it. This allows you to have a set “checklist” of sorts to make sure everything is set up in advance rather than waiting until the last minute to throw together a piece-meal sales campaign and hope for the best.
Prepare Your BFCM Campaigns
10. Start Designing Your Creatives
Holiday sales wouldn’t get nearly the attention and traction they do without beautiful ads and dazzling announcements welcoming shoppers with extraordinary savings. Fortunately, now is the perfect time to start designing eye-catching ads, countdowns, and other features to drum up excitement. Banners, hero images, and product sale announcements are like screen real estate during the holiday shopping – precious commodities. Thus, plan accordingly with things like banners, sales announcements, hero images, and more in a wide range of sizes and get them all ready for their respective ad slots and positioning well in advance of the actual Black Friday Cyber Monday launch date.
11. Entice Shoppers with Strong Ad Copy
Once your design teams are done with the design and illustrative work, you’ll want to have your marketing team carefully consider your ad copy as well. What sort of content will persuade users to want to learn more and take advantage of those BFCM deals? Put your most proficient copywriters on the case to compel users to click on your ads, discover great deals, and seize them before they’re gone.
Engage Your Black Friday Cyber Monday Shoppers
12. Build Anticipation With Emails And Social Media
This is a great time to keep loyal subscribers informed with “sneak peeks” at what’s going on sale. Email marketing and social media marketing (whether paid or through various groups or pages you’ve created) can be a great way to connect with loyal fans and encourage them to shop now before all the good deals are gone.
With smarter segmentation, you can effectively personalize email messages based on the buyer’s previous orders, their product preferences, and shopping habits, creating a shopping experience that continues to learn from them as they shop. Even if your customers don’t typically react to your emails at any other time of the year except the holidays, now could be the perfect time to let them know how much they’ll save.
Make smart lists, and plant the seed in advance, rather than hitting them with emails just before the Black Friday Cyber Monday sales. Surprisingly, shoppers are more attentive to ads around this time of year precisely because of the savings they hope to score, so make every message count. Just make sure that your customers feel extra special, and don’t spam them.
13. Stand Out On Social Media
Black Friday and Cyber Monday is one of the most popular sales events, so don’t be surprised if every shop on every corner is advertising sale after sale after sale. Slashing prices and dropping massive discounts are sure to get attention, but how do you really stand out on social media?
You could take a cue from well-known U.S. brands, who have done everything from donating a percentage of BFCM profits to charities, to actually raising their prices on Black Friday. One example of standing out includes Patagonia, a sports and clothing retailer, which donated all of the profits ($10 million) from its Black Friday sales to grassroots charitable organizations that help conserve plants, animals, water, and the environment in 2016.
If you’re going to go against the grain here, be sure to do so tastefully. The last thing you want is the wrong kind of media attention.
14. Work With Bloggers And Influencers On Gift Guides
Black Friday Cyber Monday is when people start thinking and planning their Christmas shopping. Such things as gift guides on various blogs, Pinterest, Youtube, and Instagram is trendy. Be smart here – find bloggers, vloggers, influencers, who tend to do such things, and pitch your sales to them. Or maybe make it the other way around – collaborate with some influencer, to create a gift guide from your products only, and post it on your blog. This is a great way to position your sales products for a wider audience and increase your sales. Just make it as early as possible to hire the best ones before the competition grabs them.
15. Enhance Your Remarketing Efforts
Retargeting your “old traffic” can be a compelling and cost-effective technique during BFCM. Think about it – they already know your brand; you just need to re-engage them. You can leverage such platforms as Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram by showing ads on products they previously checked on your site or complementary products to those they already bought. Also, consider an opportunity to add an additional incentive, such as free shipping, that could seal the deal.
16. Hand The Mic To Customers Via Referral Programs
Referral programs are another powerful way to acquire new customers during Black Friday Cyber Monday. Getting your current customers to advocate for your brand is much more trustworthy than running the ad yourself. You could create unique programs, where referrers can earn reward points for special discounts. This way, you not only generate more leads to your store but will engage your current customers in a fun way.
Getting your current customers to advocate for your brand is much more trustworthy than running the ad yourself.
17. Loyal Customers Deserve Your Reward
The holiday season is a perfect time to delight your best customers and strengthen your brand this way. They already love buying from you and your products, so don’t disappoint them. Make them feel special and provide VIP treatment by offering special pre-sale discounts. One idea would be to give them early access to special offers. This can serve really well not only by delighted customers but as a WOM strategy, as happy customers tend to tell stories about the brand they love to others. They can help with the spread of your special offers, as they will be the first to know, and they might want to share what you hide in a pocket.
Merchandising And Sales
18. Create Collections For Higher Average-Order-Value
Once you’ve got your budget and promotions planned out and your creatives and copy ready to launch, what’s next in this BFCM checklist? Now we turn our attention to the actual merchandising of products, including creating bundles and building anticipation so that prospective shoppers are so hungry for deals, they’ll be ready to break down your digital door to get them.
The amount that people spend when they shop your store, whether it’s over Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or both, can be increased considerably by bundling items together in “collections” that appear when the item is searched for. This can be as easy as bundling together accessories or similarly-styled items for a higher “bundle price”.
Remember that the shopper’s mindset on these critical days is getting as much of their shopping done as possible while saving money. If you can save them from the extra trip by including the things they’d likely want or need most with the item they purchase, don’t be surprised that they’re willing to pay more for the convenience.
19. Merchandise Your Search Results
Merchandising is drawing attention to items you want to sell quickly due to seasonality, inventory backlog, or other reasons. Fortunately, depending on the search platform you’re using, you may be able to merchandise your search results to not only return relevant items based on the user’s query but also highlight related “merchandised” products that you want them to see.
This is a particularly useful feature to implement before the Black Friday Cyber Monday shopping season, since drawing attention to great deals and hot items are what makes these shopping days such a resounding success for retailers. Naturally, merchandising your search results is yet another way to do just that.
Optimize For Conversion
20. Set Up Abandoned Cart Email Reminders
Speaking of email, you may be surprised to learn that Black Friday cart abandonment numbers are typically higher than at other times of the year, with some reaching as high as 75%, according to Barillance. This is when you need to act fast to remind them that their item is selling fast and that you can’t guarantee it will remain in stock. Emails like these can not only serve as part of a remarketing effort but can also remind customers that a deal like this can quickly vanish.
Black Friday cart abondonment rates can skyrocket to 75%!
It should go without saying that you’ll want to make the process of going from an abandoned cart to checkout as easy and seamless as possible. To make sure that cart abandonment emails are just one of the many ways to keep your product in the customer’s mind even after they leave your site. A solid remarketing campaign can provide this kind of reminder without being too pushy or insistent.
21. Don’t Forget Mobile Users
Mobile is overtaking desktop as the preferred shopping device, and yet many websites are notably mobile unfriendly. High load times, cumbersome navigation, and a lack of tappable, zoomable photos are just a few of the many issues mobile users commonly encounter when shopping online, so take steps now to make your site as user-focused and easy-to-use as possible.
That goes double for search since it can be a challenge to type in exactly what you’re looking for and then scroll through the results. Here it’s wise to choose a search engine that not only handles autocorrecting of typos but also guides the customer toward the correct category that the item can be found in, without them having to sift through countless results. Besides, letting users easily filter their results with just a few clicks or taps gives them greater control and accuracy in finding exactly what they want, and the sooner they can do that, the happier they’ll be.
22. Test Your Shopping Experience
BFCM sales is a great time to audit what shopping experience users get in your store. Can it juggle everything from checkouts to product comparisons efficiently and accurately?
You can start by testing your site speed. A slow site means frustrated users and high bounce rates. Then move to discovery experience – how easy can a user find the best deal than landing to your store. This includes making sure that your site search returns relevant, accurate results, and that customers can enjoy those incredible deals even sooner. Lastly, check your checkout process – is it smooth enough?
As for testing, leveraging tools like UserTesting can allow you to ask users a series of questions about specific processes on your site and record their actions on the site. How easy or hard is it for people to find what they’re looking for? How quickly can they conduct a search, and how fast are relevant results returned? How efficient is the checkout process? These are the kinds of things that only user reviews can tell you. That’s why not only is it a good idea to test your site from a server standpoint, but also a customer experience one.
23. Set Up Tracking And Analytics To Leverage Data In The Future
As important as this year’s sale is, your job is to make sure that all of the relevant data will be collected to have what to analyze in preparation for next year. Test and double-check if all tracking scripts work well, and implement the new ones if needed – Google Analytics and heatmaps is a must here. Having all of the data about user behavior and sales will help you plan better for future Black Friday Cyber Monday.
Hosting And Infrastructure
24. Make Sure Your Site Can Handle the Rush!
One of the most important, but often overlooked items on a Black Friday Cyber Monday to-do list is to ensure that your site can handle it. Many sites experience several thousand visitors more than usual, and their hosting or server infrastructure simply can’t keep up with all the orders. This results in time-outs, server errors, and incomplete orders that can sour the customer’s shopping mood.
Be sure to work with your IT team to check that your site is as optimized as possible when it comes to handling all of the traffic that’s coming your way. Ask yourself, how adept is your hosting and infrastructure at handling wave after wave of users?
25. Back It Up
There’s perhaps nothing more upsetting than having your site go down before or during a major sales event like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but we already said that. Now, imagine it wents down, and you can’t get it up and running fast.
There’s perhaps nothing more upsetting than having your site go down before or during a major sales event like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
The holidays are a hectic time for brick-and-mortar and online retailers alike. Online, significantly, the influx of shoppers into a small window of time can bog down even the most prominent sites. Thus, make sure to back up all of the vital data – form code to product descriptions/images. This way, you’ll have the assurance that if something goes wrong, you have everything safely stored for smooth and fast recovery.
Post Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM)
26. Analyze Data And Reflect
If you didn’t skip the 23rd step of this BFCM checklist, where we talked about implementing tracking and analytics, you will have loads of data to analyze and learn from after the end of the sale. Make sure to take some time to go through it all and reflect on what’s worked and what’s not. Also, it’s essential that you record all of your insights to be able to go back for the valuable insights when preparing for the next sales campaigns. This information will be the gold-mine of information for your upcoming sales.
27. Step Up Your Review Game
Well, we talked a bit about the importance of UGC. Maybe you were a bit short with it this year, so make sure this won’t happen next year. If you gave a good discount for your customers, they are probably happy and excited now. Thus, use it to your advantage, and ask them to leave a review. Struggling with it? Try to incentivize them even more by giving a small reward for each review. This is a great way to create more social proof for your products. Again, letting your customers speak is much better than talking yourself.
28. Turn BFCM Visitors Into Returning Shoppers
If your Black Friday Cyber Monday campaigns go successfully, you will have good sales numbers and a vast amount of new visitors. Do not miss the chance to turn those seasonal visitors into those that could generate sales all year. Stay connected with them, nurture them with emails – just don’t be too pushy. You will probably have some data about what products they bought (or almost bought), so welcome them back with special deals depending on their needs, and promise to ship it before Christmas.
There’s A Lot To Consider About Black Friday Cyber Monday 2020, But the Results Are Worth It
Black Friday and Cyber Monday both represent fantastic opportunities to not only attract customers to your storefront but also to embody the very values that your business promotes. With reliable customer service, a responsive, friendly website, fulfilling search, safe shopping, and great discounts, customers won’t hesitate to tell their friends and share their social media experiences.
By tying it all together, you’ll not only help them find memorable gifts for friends and loved ones, but you’ll be helping to further reinforce that yours is a company that values customer interactions and looks to make the best of every shopping experience – from the smallest details to the biggest savings. We hope this BFCM checklist will help!