The end of every year is always the peak season for shopping. Everyone is on the hunt for the perfect gift, and with the biggest shopping days on the horizon—Black Friday and Cyber Monday— it’s time to check off your Black Friday checklist.
What is the Difference Between Cyber Monday and Black Friday?
If you live in the U.S., you’re probably aware of the chaos that is Black Friday. For everyone else, Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In-store retailers go CRAZY with sales, and malls are subject to a stampede of discount-hungry customers.
Originally conceived as the ecommerce equivalent of Black Friday, Cyber Monday now sees online stores offering sales not only on the Monday after Black Friday but also during the in-store Black Friday events. This year, in 2023, Cyber Monday will fall on November 27.
Black Friday Checklist: How to Prepare Your Online Store
Though traditionally, only our American friends could join in on the Black Friday fun, stores worldwide have entered the spirit of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. It’s the biggest online shopping weekend of the year, so don’t wait for it to come around, and expect your sales to double in a day!
You need to plan ahead and be creative because even though you’ll have access to thousands of eager shoppers, other ecommerce stores will too. Here are 10 items that should be on your Black Friday checklist to help you make the most of your holiday season.
1. Decide on discounts and promotions
The Black Friday/Cyber Monday event is all about discounts and promotions. That’s why it should be #1 on your Black Friday checklist. How much sales (and profit) you’ll get this BFCM 2023 highly depends on this decision. This is especially true since all your competitors will also be offering promos.
When deciding on the promos and discounts you’ll offer this year, start by analyzing your past sales data if you have one. Determine which products were popular and what type of discounts/promo worked well for your business. If you have data from your competitors, analyze those as well. Find trends in your customer behavior.
Once you have that info, work on your margins. Knowing your product margins is crucial to deciding how much discount you can offer without affecting your profits. You need to strike a balance between your offerings and your profit.
Pro Tip: Create different promotions for your loyal customers and new customers. This can help you increase your new users while keeping old customers.
2. Check and prepare your inventory
Inventory checking should be second on your Black Friday checklist, as this is also related to what discounts and promos to offer. If you have excess inventory in certain areas, BFCM is a good time to offer deeper discounts.
Obviously, you need to have enough stock on products, especially for your bestsellers and newly released products. If you have products you want to clear out (or those with higher margins), you could put higher discounts on these items.
Remember that Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the start of the holiday shopping season, so having a bit of extra stock during this time won’t hurt.
3. Negotiate shipping
Many online store owners feel that discounts and promotions lower the value of their products. An alternative option is to offer free shipping, whether it’s on all orders within your country, internationally, or above a certain spending amount (e.g., ‘Free shipping on all orders above $100’).
If you set a minimum spending amount to be eligible for the free shipping deal, ensure the amount is realistic.
Free shipping can also help you avoid purchase resistance. Online shoppers often change their minds about purchases once shipping fees are factored into the total amount.
Great discounts on your products might be useless if your shipping fee doubles the total, so you’re better off negotiating your shipping price. Remember that you will have to subsidize for the free shipping.
4. Communicate your offers ahead of time
Start advertising your discounts and promotions before BFCM to get the word out. Do so on your website and across social media platforms.
Customers who follow you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram should always be the first to know about your promotions or sales — BFCM deals included. They’re also more likely to share your post, extending its reach to their entire network.
Visuals are critical, so head over to Canva and make your announcement eye-catching with a great typeface and color scheme.
If you have a newsletter, include a small graphic somewhere reminding your customers that Black Friday/Cyber Monday is approaching and that you have something special for them. If you have a blog, write a post dedicated to each day and this year’s holiday season to get your site on search engines.
The sooner you advertise your BFCM deals, the better because this will give them enough time to circulate throughout the ecommerce world. It’s also a good idea to re-post your BFCM deal advertisement closer to the date to remind people who may have seen your first post a month ago and have forgotten all about it.
Pro Tip: Ensure all your promotion info is easy to find to avoid emails from confused and angry customers. For example, when you offer a discount to customers who purchase several items (‘Buy two shirts and get 50% off your third!’ ), make it clear that the discount applies to the cheapest of the three items.
5. Perfect your product images
A Black Friday checklist wouldn’t be complete without this.
High-quality product images are the key to increasing conversions. Though people tend to splurge on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are thousands of other ecommerce stores you’ll need to compete with.
Incredible product photography will give you a competitive advantage over other online stores and will also help your customers visualize the products they’re thinking of buying. The better they can visualize your product, the more likely they will buy it.
Removing the backgrounds of your photos is a great place to start, as doing so will draw attention to the products. You should also ensure all your images are consistent and aligned to give your ecommerce store a cleaner, more professional look.
6. Get your entire team ready
The BFCM could be your most profitable weekend of the year, but it could also be the busiest, so make sure you’re ready! Increased traffic and sales usually come with increased customer service inquiries, so prepare your employees.
You want all staff on board that day, especially your Customer Service and Tech staff. Your goal is to be prepared for any possible situations. This will help lessen the stress and accommodate more customers for your BFCM 2023 sale.
Make sure that you have a list of Q&A ready for your CS team related to your BFCM promo so they know what to tell the customers. Discuss possible issues you’ll need help with and talk to your staff about.
7. Double-check your bandwidth
Make sure you have enough bandwidth to handle a surge in traffic. It would be unfortunate if all your hard work were for nothing because your store crashed on the big day.
If you use a hosted ecommerce platform like Bigcommerce, Shopify, or Magento, your platform should be able to handle the bandwidth. However, you can never be too careful, especially with special events like BFCM. So, talk to your developer and be prepared for any possible scenarios.
8. Assess your checkout experience
Related to checklist #7, your checkout process should be seamless. An ideal checkout flow will have a smooth, frictionless user experience to prevent abandoned carts and low conversion rates.
Can they ‘guest’ checkout,’ or do they have to sign up for an account? When filling out forms, do they allow auto-fill so they don’t have to type everything out?
Is adding or removing items to and from their shopping cart easy? Do you offer enough shipping options?
What about payment options? Can they pay with a credit card or Apple Pay? Is there a buy now, pay later option? In fact, during the previous year’s Cyber Week, “Buy now, pay later” orders surged by 85%, leading to an 88% increase in revenue compared to the preceding week. People are exploring these options more and more because of various economic challenges.
These are all questions you can ask to assess whether or not their shopping experience is as smooth as can be. Make sure to test the checkout process yourself so you can spot any friction or possible issues.
9. Assess your site for mobile-friendliness
Mobile shopping remains on the rise during Cyber Monday, with smartphone sales comprising 43% of total sales in 2022, up from 40% in 2021. Stats like that show that being mobile-friendly is more crucial than ever. Imagine how many sales you could miss because of a poorly designed mobile website.
If you’re unsure how to check if your website is mobile-friendly, tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights can help assess its performance on mobile devices. We mention a few more tests you can do in one of our recent blogs.
10. Plan and launch ad campaigns early
We already discussed communicating your offers and that social media is a great start. But you may have to take your marketing campaigns further.
Your communication is significantly limited if you don’t have a massive following on these platforms. Over the years, organic reach has dwindled. Unfortunately, this means not everyone who follows you will see your content.
So you’ll likely have to factor in ad spend, ad creatives (the graphics and videos), and the messaging into your Black Friday/Cyber Monday preparation.
I hope this Black Friday checklist helped you!
Now that you’ve got some great strategies, put them to good use! Have a fantastic Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, and let the sales roll in.
So, are you ready for the season of sales? We are! If you want stunning photos to skyrocket your sales, Pixc can help. See what we can do with a free photo edit today!