Last-Minute BFCM Ecommerce TipsNovember 20, 2017 - Milen Vasilev
News of last-minute BFCM deals and discounts are already flooding the web, and consumers are bookmarking eStores that have caught their fancy. But shoppers are always looking for more bargains and ever deeper discounts.
eCommerce stores are seeing a boost in traffic as people keep checking and rechecking if their favorite items’ prices have not bulged. And some stores even have pre-Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales to take advantage of that traffic, redistribute some of the load and be able to maintain top-notch customer service.
With that in mind, even if you have been preparing for months, in eCommerce there is always one more thing to be done.
So what you can effectively do in the last days before BFCM that can optimize your store and boost conversion?
Check and recheck
As any captain of a ship would do before a storm, walk around and make sure all the ropes are fastened and your crew is in position. Look at every consumer and supplier touchpoint and make sure all apps and plugins that govern them are working well. It’s equally important to send an email to your dropshipping suppliers with volume surge history from last year. A reminder can go a long way.
Communication is key, so have a quick Skype call with all your remote VAs and make sure they will be fully available the weekend of BFCM. Go a step further: create and share a flashcard with everyone’s email and phone for when the unforeseeable problem arises.
At the same time, organize your sales plan. Map your sales by item and category including start and end date, type of discount, and marketing channel. Make sure all your ads and posts are scheduled so your hands are free to handle orders in the rush of BFCM.
Additionally, check your packaging supplies and do some last-minute restocking. You don’t want to realize you are out of tape right at crunch time.
Retarget previous customers
Your ads, posts, and emails should be scheduled by now but if your customers are taking advantage of your early-bird discounts and giving you new data in the process, you can do much more. They are probably not done shopping for everything on their lists. Use your new data to send highly-personalized emails with discount codes on similar or complementing items.
After all, it is far easier to sell to existing customers than to bring in new ones. So use the momentum to build up the buzz with countdown timers and reminders about your deepest discount on popular items. As you are keeping people engaged, entice them further with free shipping on top items.
Offer free shipping
Black Friday is as much a sale as it is a marketing tool to get your brand in front of the wide holiday audience. Consider offering free shipping for the entire sale even if that shrinks your margins. You will more than make it up later on return customers.
Not to mention, shipping costs are one of the prime factors for cart abandonment. You will be removing an important psychological barrier and making the purchasing path much smoother. If you cannot afford to offer free shipping to everyone, retarget existing customers with individualized free shipping coupons. You can use a tool like Wooly or an app like JustUno to achieve just that.
Turn one-time buyers into loyal customers
BFCM is an opportunity to give your store a boost not only for a few days but for the coming months as you add on to your base of return customers. So do not underestimate this chance to delight customers and build relationships.
Moreover, high volumes shouldn’t be an excuse to cut corners. On the contrary, they should inspire you to find creative ways to keep those one-time buyers coming back. One way is to include samples, coupons, or handwritten Thank You notes in their packages. Get those materials ready and incorporate them into your packaging flow so you can delight hassle-free.
Stay on top of customer service, returns, and exchanges
It is not too late to hire one or two skilled virtual assistants to help with customer service on the Black Friday weekend and the week after. Employ platforms like Upwork or Freeeup for quick access to a pool of talent. People often buy from several stores and then return the items that are not a perfect fit, especially in the clothing category.
The way you handle returns and exchanges defines your customer service. It is a lengthy process with many moving parts, and the better you perform the more delighted customers you will retain after BFCM. And the fewer angry customers you’ll have complaining about you on social media.
Employ discounts on popular items
Use your most popular items to get people to visit your store. Now, as the shopping mood is in the air, your marketing efforts should be focused and streamlined. Create excitement with popular items that most people want and are selling well.
With that in mind, offer a limited amount of fan favorites with a deep discount, and spread the news on social media and via email. Even throw in a day or two of last-minute highly-targeted Facebook ads in the mix. This will give you a nice kick-off and worth of mouth effect. And, most likely, people who line up to purchase the advertised items will buy something else from you along the way.
Build up the urgency and scarcity
Consumers are already counting the days until BFCM and anticipating limited quantities for their go-to sales. Help them keep track with countdown timers like Hurrify that lead up to the start of specific sales. By the same token, use tools like Fumo to show who is buying your product in real-time to engage visitors and leverage social proof.
Draw attention to the limited quantities of leading products that will likely fly off the shelves in seconds. Use countdown apps to show how few are left and that they might be gone before the final tier of discounts kicks in. That way you can entice people to buy them earlier even if the discounts are not that deep just yet.
Always gather data
Don’t take your eyes off your data. Get insights from Google Analytics, Facebook, or the likes of HubSpot, and track your users to better understand their interaction with your store. Install apps and plugins that offer specific data on key touchpoints, like
- heat mapping, to see how they interact with your product page, and
- popups and chatbots, to see what questions they ask and why they navigate away.
This effort will help you understand how your Black Friday consumers act differently than those same shoppers during normal conditions. That way, you will be able to improve your store and know what to adjust in the future during peak volume seasons.
Automate everything you can
Automation is great, in general, and helps you scale your operation at a reasonable cost. It is also especially useful during high-volume sales like BFCM. Do a final tune-up of your marketing, customer service, and fulfillment automation efforts so you can have more bandwidth to process orders and address issues during the sale itself.
Everything that can be delegated to an app, platform, or a trusted employee should be.
Your store should perform like a well-oiled machine. Moreover, it is important to make sure there are no weak links in the chain. If you have recently hired a VA and they are not tested in high volumes, do not give them key responsibilities. Instead, delegate tasks that they have proven to excel in. The time of the sale is not a time to experiment and test for optimum efficiency.
Your goal for BFCM is to optimize your sales, maximize your marketing, and prepare your store to gracefully withstand the higher volume. To achieve that, you have to plan your discounts ahead of time and drum up buzz along your marketing channels so your customers stay engaged. It is also equally important to streamline your order fulfillment and team communication so your customers get the same or better customer service and you boost your retention rate.
Are you ready?