9 Ways to Bulletproof Your Store for the Black Friday Surge

October 4, 2018 - Milen VasilevRow of shopping bags during black friday surge

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are around the corner, and consumers are already working on their wishlists. It is never too early to help them along their decision-making process with some direction for their Black Friday journey.

The Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend, November 23-26, is one of the largest sales events of the year. It is huge in the US and has even reached other markets, especially in the leading economies of Europe.

This event is not only an opportunity to sell more but a test of your ability to keep up with customer service and, hopefully, retain some of those one-time deal hunters. Let’s take a look at how to stand out on this fast-paced weekend and what tools to use to boost sales and retention.

1. Give your store a head start

The month of November drives 30% more eCommerce revenue than non-holiday months.

Timely preparation is key when it comes to gaining people’s hearts for the Black Friday surge. So don’t wait until the last minute and get to planning and scheduling your ads and reminders now. The hype begins early, and you have to stay on top of your marketing channels and prepare content that sets you up for success.

Start with your store: Remind people of the upcoming sales with countdown pop-ups and discounts on popular products. Using data on visited items, retarget your customers and remind them that those items will be on sale in late November.

Think of Black Friday as a season not just as a weekend sale.

Start building up the excitement early and get your customers engaged. Use your Thank You emails as vehicles to promote Black Friday by sending discount codes that offer the same deep discounts, say, two days before the official kick-off. That way you are offering something special and you are redistributing some of the weekend load making it easier to ship orders.

Use your social media channels as well as long-form content to share weekly reminders of the impending sales event. Keep it simple and memorable with creative images that stand out.

2. Supercharge your shipping strategy

If this is not your first BFCM sale, you probably have an idea of the surge in volume that happens that weekend. The key is to prepare every aspect of your logistics to handle the higher volume just as smoothly or even more smoothly than usual.

So make sure you are well-stocked on basics and streamline your order-fulfillment strategy. Stock on labels and backup printer ink if you are printing them in-house. If you are using a service like Easypost, buy your labels in bulk in advance. Authorize your virtual assistant to buy labels via Shopify. The more tasks you get done beforehand, the more time you will have to take care of what goes in the boxes and better delight your customers.

Think big, and organize your fulfillment like an assembly line. Make a checklist of all the steps of the process from the time you receive an order to the time you send the Thank You email.

It will look something like this:

  • Print labels
  • Assemble box
  • Place product
  • Add fill
  • Include coupons or samples
  • Tape box
  • Attach label
  • Place in delivery basket
  • Drop off at post-office
  • Track shipment
  • Send Thank You email

Organize your materials on a long table or on the floor, in the exact order you will need them. And set a time for the completion of one packagingfrom label printing to placing in the delivery basket. This will help you stay organized and not fall behind.

3. Outline marketing campaigns in advance

Have your creative team build your Black Friday-themed campaign at least a month before the event. Create an editorial calendar about blog posts and social media activity down to the minute.

Use tools like Hootsuite and Mailchimp to schedule your promotional emails and social media posts in advance so you can focus on logistics and customer service. Segment your customers based on your store data, and send them individualized VIP discount codes, free shipping codes, and discounts on items related to their previous purchases.

If you are offering free shipping for Black Friday, make it known. Shipping is one of the primary concerns of online consumers and accounts for the majority of abandoned carts.

4. A/B Test before the rush

Testing in the month of November leading up to BFCM and on the weekend itself is not recommended. The eCommerce landscape changes significantly during this unusual shopping time frame, and you are likely to get unrealistic results.

If you absolutely have to test different versions of images, PPC ads, or content, do it before the Black Friday buzz takes hold. Get your store’s best version online and focus on order fulfillment and customer service until BFCM and the December Holiday Season are over. You will have plenty of time to test when things quiet down in January.

5. Take steps to boost your retention rate

65% of consumers have cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service experience.

Often brands focus on volume and deep discounts and treat the Black Friday consumers like one-off deal hunters who will never return. Think differently, and use the enormous exposure from the sale to actually create return customers.

Stand out from the melange of brands that are just looking for a quick buck. Hire some extra hands to help with customer service and handle returns and exchanges. Do not forget your in-package marketing, order-update emails, surveys, and Thank You notes.

Use SurveyMonkey for surveys or apps like Product Review Addon to automatically request reviews after a purchase. Employ Wooly to dig deeper into who is buying your products.

In fact, it is worth investing a little more in boosting all these efforts so you and your products stand out. Include coupons and samples in your packages, and invite delighted customers to share their purchase on social media. Enroll new customers in loyalty programs by offering them points, VIP offers, and incentive-based referral programs.

Loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.

If they follow you on social media, use the opportunity to thank them with a personal message. Invite them to tag you or post with a specific hashtag for a chance to win something. Keep them engaged and entertained to boost your chances that they come back.

6. Enhance the package-opening moment

The time when your customers open their package is a rare moment when you have their undivided attention. Use that moment to thank them, delight them with samples, offer coupons to encourage repeat purchases, or suggest related products that they may like.

Use it to encourage them to take a picture and share their purchase on social media. You can get some valuable user-generated content on your feed that reassures consumers your products are faring well with your customers.

Go the extra mile and offer a hand-written Thank You note in your BFCM shipping boxes. That might take some extra time, but you can always write the notes ahead of time. Create the necessary categories and simply add the name of the recipient. Just make sure you use the same type of pen and handwriting.

In an eCommerce world, where everything is standardized and mass-produced, a personal note can go a long way.

Plan ahead and have the supplies for your unboxing effect handy before the bulk of orders kick in.

7. Boost site navigation and optimize for mobile

Boost your conversion rate during Black Friday with an update to your site infrastructure and navigation. That may include better images, a shorter checkout process, or on-site chatbots and pop-ups.

Black Friday consumers have grown to expect easy navigation and speedy checkout. If you are making changes to better meet and convert the higher volume, make sure they are implemented in advance and tested with regular volumes of customers even if just in parts of your store.

Your user experience will also greatly benefit from clean-cut images with white backgrounds that give your store a uniform look.

Populate your store with pop-ups and chatbots that answer questions, offer suggestions, or help visitors find products. Make your CTA stand out.

Don’t underestimate your mobile visitors. They are half of your traffic and expect even more simple, responsive, and fast-loading sites. Optimize your image sizes for mobile, and keep your platform guidelines in mind.

These steps can shave off vital seconds from the consumer experience and make a positive impact on your conversion rate.

8. Employ geo-targeted advertising

Supercharge your PPC campaigns by targeting consumers who are already in a shopping mood. You can get creative with geo-targeting and use the power of large retailers to attract shoppers and target them.

86% of millennials used a mobile device while shopping in-store during the 2016 holiday season.

Geo-targeting is available through all major PPC ad providers, including AdWords and Facebook Ads.

Make a list of all the Target or Macy’s stores, for example, and use their zip codes to geo-target your PPC ads in a 10-mile radius of each store. You can go a step further and include the time you want your ads to run, say after 5 pm when people get off work.

You can do the same for shopping malls or events that are related to your product. 71% of consumers think they can get a better deal online and often compare while in-store.

9. Get your apps ready

Employ apps to improve your BFCM conversion rate and your customers’ lifetime value.

1. Hurrify – Countdown timer

Employ countdown apps to add a sense of urgency and alert your site visitors about the end of Black Friday discounts. Include the number of people who have bought your product to use social proof.

2. ReferralCandy – Referral

Consumers are willing to tell their peers about their purchase but often need a little nurturing to do so. Use the BFCM traffic to supercharge your marketing by offering points, coupons, discounts and incentives to give the word of mouth a little push.

3. FOMO – Social proof

This app helps you use social proof to show what others are buying on your site and what they are saying about your products. Consumers trust other shoppers more than brands, and FOMO leverages that fact and boosts your conversion.

4. JustUno – Everything pop-ups

Get all your exits covered with a timely pop-up that offers more info, a coupon, or a discount. Reduce your cart abandonment rate with pop-ups that invite customers back offering them free shipping or other incentives.

5. 24/7 – An automated chatbot

Employ a chatbot to answer common questions at any time of the day to increase the chances of conversion. Your bot can make recommendations and guide visitors through your store, getting them closer to a purchase decision.

Quick List of Other Useful Apps

Sales Pop – Real-time notifications about recently sold products.

Happy Customer – Free promotion bars at the top of your screen.

Free Shipping Bar – Lets your customers know you are offering free shipping.

Privy – Free email capture pop-ups.

Discounted UpsellsOffers discounts to related products to boost your cart size.

Better Coupon Box – Highly customizable email capture pop-ups.

PushOwl – Reminds your customers about sales or abandoned carts with push notifications.


Black Friday is around the corner, and the more prepared you are, the more of your customers you will make happy. BFCM is not only about selling as much as possible but also offering a great experience and retaining some of those seasonal consumers.

So streamline your fulfillment, plan your marketing, and get your store ready to make the most of the BFCM weekend.

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