The traditional Black Friday is a crucial annual shopping event for both stores and customers. It’s the most long-expected experience when stores can attract new clients and get a great number of bills. Customers can make purchases at competitive prices and choose the better offer. But this year the Black Friday will be the finest hour for online store owners: the situation with the Coronavirus pandemic has shifted the priorities to the side of ecommerce.   

So, if you want to get the maximal results from this situation, you need to prepare your online store beforehand. It’s not just about checking the inventory to resupply and optimizing your resources for on-time delivery. You should look at your store status in greater depth.

We gathered several tips on how to prepare for the efficient BFCM, so check our post to be sure that you did everything that depends on you. For your convenience, we have combined the tips into 6 large blocks. Here is our Black Friday checklist:

  1. Make plans for all cases 
  2. Check the products
  3. Create a marketing strategy
  4. Enhance work with customers
  5. Think about how to increase your store performance
  6. Analyze the results

Let’s take a deeper look at what you can do to achieve the maximal benefits from online BFCM.

1. Make plans for all cases

It’s crucial to make sure that your store is ready for BFCM, but also you need to take care of possible situations and issues that can appear.

1.1. How can you get more customers?

Now people spend more time at home, so it seems more attractive for them to not wait for BFCM and make their purchases earlier, as soon as they need it. For example, Shopkick Research shows that 34% of Americans plan to start their purchases before Thanksgiving day, and a lot of people want to purchase gifts on winter holidays beforehand.

So, think about how to extend your sales period, maybe, you can start it earlier than on BFCM. To make this solution, you should analyze your financial capabilities and other associated factors.

Also, make sure that people can find your information about sales in your store a few days before the “time X”. 

1.2  Can your site handle a surge in traffic?

On the BFCM your site may not be able to handle a large flow of customers, so you need to test its performance to avoid breakdown. For this goal, you can use special tools: for instance, 6k Cloud tracks your server load capacity, and Google Lighthouse can help you to know your pages loading time. But if your store is based on the Shopify platform, you can be sure that your site is able to process any number of traffic. Check your Shopify store speed report to see its performance and compare it with your competitors. Shopify team constantly provides testing of your home page, product pages and helps to find the most frequent ones of your store.

1.3. Do you use all available sales channels?

BFCM is a serious event, you need to be sure that you use all available sales channels to share information about your special offers. Shopify allows store owners to work with Facebook, Amazon, eBay. Also, you can connect it with your Pinterest Profile or install the Walmart marketplace. It’s time to start to use these channels if you are a beginner in ecommerce. If you already work with them, find your most profitable channel with the help of tools of analytics and enhance them. 

1.4. What about your competitors?

The ideas of your competitors can inspire you on something great and unique for your Black Friday. So, the subscription to their email list and social media groups can be a good solution.  Also, you can use Google Alerts to track what sites popularize them. Notice, you shouldn’t just emulate their marketing companies, but create something original.

1.5. What is your contingency plan?

Despite you trying to take control of the work of your store, you should be prepared for the unexpected. Make a plan of what to do if your server crashes, or your shipping company can’t handle orders, or the delivery of your product is late. Such kind of preparation will help you to effectively solve the potential problems and don’t lose time and customers during BFCM weekend.

2. Prepare your products and team for a surge in sales

After the planning, you should turn to the actions and take several decisions about the products for sale. Also, it’s important to think about how to simplify and increase your employees’ work in terms of a great number of orders.

2.1. How can you choose the products for sale?

It’s crucial to choose the products for BCFM and make an inventory. If the work of your store depends on suppliers, you need to communicate with them beforehand to restock: there are too many orders from online stores during a pandemic.

To make the proper choice of the products, you need to forecast demand. For example, consider your sales by product report for the last year: you can find it in your Shopify account. Here you can see what products were the top-selling on the last BFCM.   

Also, you can use ABC analysis to find your more and less popular products.

A-grade products give you 80% of revenue while C-grade products make just 5% of income. You can use the BFCM as a chance to sell off your less popular items and replace them with something new. Conversely, a small-scale discount on A-grade goods can increase the demand for them.  

2.2. What products can be in demand now? 

It’s crucial for online businesses to stay on top of tendencies in ecommerce. So, in addition to your store’s popular products, you should know what products are also trending in a pandemic situation, and maybe, try to add them to your site. It’s not about changing your niche, just adjusting. For example, according to Shopify research, these categories of products are in demand: 

  • furniture and home office equipment
  • sports equipment 
  • leisurewear, blankets for a convenient vibe
  • beauty and self-care products
  • puzzles and board games.

2.3. What to do if there are product limitations in your store?

If there are risks that the number of your products wouldn’t be enough for your customers, you can solve this problem with the help of gift cards. They don’t require any effort from your suppliers and don’t need much storage space. It’s a universal solution that gives you the ability to make sales even if there are no products at your store at that moment. 

2.4. How can you simplify your working processes during the BFCM?

Think, what can simplify and improve your working processes in frames of an endless number of orders, calls, and customers’ questions. You need to show a high level of customer service and ship orders on time. Let’s consider how you can prepare for BFCM:

  • If you are storing your goods, be sure that you can easily get access to them for packing and shipping.  
  • Hire additional staff for these days or ask your friends to help you process orders, pack, and send products. 
  • Improve the communication between your employees and you: for example, using the Shopify Orders Timeline you can write the comments and instructions.
  • Think about how you can organize your processing of the orders. There are several well-known solutions:
  1.  You can prioritize them by the customer status and at first all process the orders from loyal customers. Doing so you can thank them and highlight their status.
  2. Sort orders by the type of shipping and primarily pick the orders with expedited shipping or orders that require a certain delivery kind. For example, you can prepare all orders for local delivery services and then start packing goods for other delivery companies.
  3. Focus on the kind of product: they can require diverse ways of picking and packaging. So, you don’t need to change the type and shape of your pack, it simplifies your work. 

3. Create a marketing strategy

Let your creativity shine and try to attract the greatest possible number of customers to your online store. So, let’s take a deeper look at what you should include in your effective BFCM marketing strategy.

3.1.What does your unique BFCM offer look like?

Don’t try to tell the audience about all your goods at the same time. Focus on the main product with a unique discount and create your advertising company based on it. This approach can save your money on the BFCM promotion if you use paid advertising channels. The marketers call this approach “the loss leader pricing”:  there is a chance that customers will add to their shopping cart not just this product, but something else with less discount. So, you get more items in the bill than usual, and it gives you a profit.

Except for the loss leader pricing you can offer to your customers:

  • product bundle – combine several products into a set with a discount price;
  • unique daily deals, for example, every day they will get a discount on a new group of products;
  • gamification offers, it means that customers need to do something to get an extra bonus. For example, if the order amount is more than X, they get free shipping, etc. 

3.2. Do you prepared a BFCM banner?

Customers like not just discounts, but interesting visual presentations. If you want to use banner ads for promotion or just decorate your website with the help of thematic titles or heroes, you can make it easier than you think. Of course, you can turn to the designer and ask for professional help. But also you can try to use online design tools, such as Canva, Taler, or choose one of the ready templates from CreativeMarket.

3.3. How can you return previous visitors?

BFCM is a serious reason to return your previous customers and remind them why they found your store. As practice shows, customer retention strategy always brings good results: it’s more simple to tell about your offer to your already existing customers than search for a new audience. So, in addition to the targeted emails, you can try to set up a Facebook Pixel or use the help of Kit, a virtual Shopify assistant that can run out your Facebook and Instagram advertising. 

3.4. How does a proper email marketing strategy look like?

If you get a customer base, try to use it as effectively as possible. It’s not one email with advertising but a full-fledged campaign that attracts customers to go again to your store. 

To simplify and plan your marketing strategy, you can turn to a special tool, Shopify Email. By doing so, you can gather and manage all your contacts from various channels in one place and save your time. 

So, what are the most effective tricks of email marketing campaigns?

  • Use email collection and registration fields on various pages of your site. Doing so, you can get emails not just from customers but also from visitors who aren’t ready to make a purchase at that moment but can do it in theory. Also, be sure that they give you the consent to send emails.
  • Send teasers and hints about your great BFCM offers. Doing so, you warm-up your customers’ interest and intrigue them: they will expect the start of sales in your store. Also, if you send your emails in the early stage, there are good chances that customers read them, not mark them as spam. 
  • Make abandoned cart emails to customers that fulfill the cart but don’t make a purchase. Remind them about their orders and tell them about your holiday sale offer. Also, you can do the same after BFCM ends, and part of the customers can complete their order. To get information about these carts you can use special order recovery apps or built-in Shopify abandoned cart recovery.
  • Send customers a thank-you email after several days of their purchase. Doing so, you don’t overdo it with informational emails about the status of the order and show that you appreciate their attention and participation in your event.

4. Enhance work with customers

Proper work with customers can bring you loyal clients and stimulate them to make more purchases in your store. So, we prepared answers to the most popular questions about how to increase your customer support.

4.1. How can you facilitate loyal customers?

BFCM is a proper reason to show your loyal customers how much you appreciate them. You can create an exclusive offer for them or give them early access to the sale. You also can use these benefits to boost the level of customer subscriptions: they will have a reason to send you their email before closing your page.

4.2. How can you increase your communication with customers?

If you want to get your customers the ability to ask you a question during BFCM and help them to figure out what product they need, would be better to set up a live chat, or native version, Shopify Chat. Calls can take more time and if the customers don’t get the needed answer, they just abandon their cart. 

If you can’t control your live chat 24/7 or don’t have enough employees to consult about all products, you can customize this tool and decide where and when to turn it: 

  • Show live chat after the moment when you sent emails or started promotion. A great number of clients will click on your banner and open your website at the same time, so there is a possibility that someone needs your help.
  • Show it on pages with the BFCM offers, it’s your priority now.
  • Remind about live chat when customers are in their shopping cart.

4.3. What are the main principles of communication with customers?

The BFCM sales is a time when you should offer to your customers not just discounts but high levels of services, prompt response, and be respectful.

So, prepare several phrases that you can use during the conversation with clients. If there is no problem to agree on order details, you also should be ready to discuss unpleasant moments when customers get damaged packages,  they aren’t pleased with the product’s quality or there are problems with order delivery. 

If you make a pleasant impression on your customers, they will be with you not just during the sales holiday.

4.4. What about the product return?

How to return the product is one of the most popular questions during BFCM sales. So, you can avoid stress and make the policy of returning products more clear. If the customers are sure that they can return their order under the conditions, they make purchases more readily. 

Describe all conditions and terms of product returning, so the customers don’t be afraid about the money and feel more secure. 

One of the reasons for products returning is the improper size or color when customers just make a mistake. Shopify offers a special tool, the order editing: it’s available after the customers’ payments and before the shipping. So you can make needed changes for a customer.

5. Think about how to increase your store performance

Performance is crucial for online stores, especially during the holiday sales. So, if you don’t want to miss a moment and profit, make sure that your site can handle the workload. 

5.1.How does your store look on various devices?

As we can see in Shopify research, in recent years customers make the greatest part of the purchases through the phone. So, you should think about the usability of your store’s mobile version. Is your site convenient and intuitive for customers via the mobile phone or tablet? What do your products look like on a mobile device? Shopify offers mobile-friendly themes, so you can be sure that your site doesn’t lose anything and looks attractive on any device. 

5.2. How convenient is checkout in your store?

The checkout, especially on the mobile phone, is also an important indicator that can save or abandon purchases. If the customers should fill out a large amount of needed information to make an order, and verify their payment, they may get tired of it and abandon their cart. So, try all your services to better understand what your customers need and want to see at the store. Use tools that allow devices to keep the information and simplify the checkout, for example, as Shop Pay does.

5.3. What customers say about your store?

Permanent testing and work with feedback can help you make your store better. Ask new customers or experts to answer several questions about your site, design, service. By doing so, you can find bugs or problems that just a new person can notice. Also, it would be better permanently to track new information on the marketplace and search for features that can upgrade your store.

If you want to understand the customers’ behavior and find the most working features of your site, you can use heatmaps in addition to Google Analytics and Shopify reports. If you take into account these data, you can more effectively organize your holiday sales.

6. Analyze the BFCM results

An analysis is an integral part of the marketing campaign, it helps you to make your next one better and more efficient. So, after the holiday sales find your the most resultful advertising channel, the most popular product, problems that happened with orders and their processing. Create a special document for this data, or make screenshots for your convenience. All this information you can use for preparing for the new BFCM.

Also, try to get from your BFCM not just the profit but new loyal customers. Don’t lose your connection and remind about your store with the help of targeted emails, your accounts, and groups in social networks.

We hope our detailed guide will help you to prepare for the Black Friday Cyber Monday and get good results. Feel free and tell us in the comments below how you prepare for the BFCM, and what are your favorite tricks and trips.