The busiest time of the year for retailers is almost here—Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just months away.
Given the events of the past 18 months, you should be prepared for anything during the year’s most unpredictable sales marathon.
Here are 10 ways to prepare for BFCM 2021.
- Set up email marketing campaigns
- Embrace social media
- Focus on search engine optimization
- Choose the best items for discounts
- Stagger sales and discounts
- Add contactless alternatives
- Plan your shipping strategy
- Step up your customer support
- Take advantage of apps
1. Set up email marketing campaigns
Just like every year hoards of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals will start swarming your inbox.
With such a high volume, it can be tricky to set yourself apart. At this time of year, it helps to get creative about your email campaigns. From the 1st to the 25th November 2020, over two million orders were placed due to email marketing campaigns.
Are you collecting customers’ email addresses via loyalty programs, email newsletters or even to send them e-receipts?
Then you should definitely send them emails to let them know about your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and Digital Marketing expert of DontPayFull, suggests staggering your emails.
“Send the first wave of teaser emails with the hints of your upcoming offers to get the attention of your audience. Your second wave of emails will contain your exclusive offers customised for different leads,” says Vasilescu.
While sending generic emails might be the easiest option, it might also be the least effective one. Each customer is different, meaning their offers should be too. This is where segmentation comes in handy.
Jonathan Frey, CMO of Urban Bikes Direct store recommends “using segmented email marketing to offer customers a personalized holiday sale sexperience. Not every sale will appeal to every customer, and not every customer will be completely receptive to the concept of Black Friday itself. Create targeted messages to get on every customer types’ wavelength.”
Using email automation platforms like Mailchimp allow web store owners to craft succinct and personalised email campaigns by syncing customer data from their eCommerce site.
“By connecting your Lightspeed store to Mailchimp, you can amplify your ability to effectively market your customers,” says Tamisha McQuilkin, Partner Program Manager at Mailchimp.
“You essentially bring together store data with marketing data into one centralised place so that you can understand the ROI of your marketing efforts.”
Tamisha shares her favourite Mailchimp features for creating personalised strategies based on who your customers are and how they are interacting with your business:
- Automations – As a business owner, your time is valuable. Don’t get bogged down sending emails when you can automate. Use key automations to help you build and foster relationships with your customers. Mailchimp makes it easy to create welcome emails, abandoned cart, product recommendations, retargeting emails, just to name a few. And with their new Customer Journey Builder tool, you can set up automations that are triggered based on customers’ behaviour on your site.
- Insights & Analytics – With a connected store, viewing your analytics in Mailchimp will help you assess what elements of your marketing strategy are effective in driving ROI–allowing you the ability to either enhance particular efforts or pivot if necessary. And with Mailchimp Smart Recommendations, you can create smarter content, reach the right audience, and improve campaign performance with data-driven tools.
Place your bets on loyalty
While the upcoming shopping weekend can be a great time to lure new customers in, it can still be pricey, as it can cost up to 25 times more to acquire a new customer.
Marketing to current customers is not only less expensive, but they tend to buy more often and spend more than first-time customers.
While it may seem tempting to exclusively run paid ads on Facebook and Instagram to get more new customers, don’t make the mistake of neglecting your existing ones; they’re the ones that are more likely to buy more and recommend your store to friends and family.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the perfect times to strengthen your relationship with your existing customers.
Don’t risk having your best customers shop at one of your competitors. Create emails that feature your holiday deals and send them to your existing customers, and don’t forget to create a sense of urgency (this is a limited time offer!) so that they act fast.
Make sure to use segmented email marketing to offer your VIP customers exclusive deals that they might like. With Lightspeed Loyalty, you can easily create beautiful promotional emails with its built-in drag-and-drop email builder.
2. Embrace social media
Social media marketing can be expensive and have a low impact—if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you’re looking to get people into your physical store, we suggest narrowing your audience to be only within a certain distance from your location. We call the act of narrowing your ad’s reach by state, province, city, zip or postal code geotargeting.
This achieves two things:
- The only people getting your Black Friday ads are located near your business and are more likely to visit your store and make a purchase.
- You get a higher ROI for what you spend. Since your audience is highly-targeted, each person that sees your ad is more likely to convert into a customer.
It’s a lot cheaper (and effective) to make your ads as targeted as possible.
<div style=”background-color: #f7f7f7; line-height: 1.45; font-size: 1.125rem; margin-top: 30px; margin-bottom: 30px; border: 1px solid #e9e9eb; border-radius: 4px; padding: 30px 20px 30px 20px;”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Want to know how to integrate with Google local inventory ads and reach local audiences? Read our blog <a href=”/blog/local-online-marketing/”>Local online marketing: 5 strategies for success</a></span></span></div>
Launch dynamic ads on Facebook
If you’re looking to shift some of your foot traffic to your online shop you might also want to reach a broader audience.
Similar to geotargeted ads, it’s also much more effective to remarket people who have visited your online store.
Eagan Heath, Owner of Caravan Digital, recommends “getting your Facebook and Instagram Ad prospecting audiences ready. You can close a lot of sales by remarketing these folks during the holiday rush.”
The holidays are the best time to use tools like Facebook and Instagram to reach out to people that have connected with your brand previously and close the sale.
Think about it—they’ve already looked at products on your website, so why not send them a reminder to take action? If you’ve installed Facebook Pixel on your website, you can create Facebook ads that feature the very same products someone viewed.
For example, let’s say you were shopping for a pair of Mejuri earrings and saw some Cabochon Studs you liked. You don’t buy them, but you did look at them. Next thing you know, you see them in a carousel ad on your Facebook newsfeed.
Your customer might then add the earrings to their cart and become a paying customer. Remarketing people that are visiting your online store is another trick for running Facebook ads that actually work.
Start using Instagram Shopping
If you’re creating content on Instagram (which you should be), there’s a great feature called Instagram Shopping that lets people buy products featured in your posts directly through the app.
Considering that 20% of shoppers—and 37% of Gen Zers—say Instagram is their favourite channel for holiday shopping, you should definitely look into setting up Instagram Shopping.
While it’s used by big-box retailers, it’s very accessible for independent retailers to set up as well.
Once you set up Instagram Shopping and create a few posts, those posts are visible to any of the 200 million accounts that use Instagram’s Explore tab daily. That’s a lot of exposure and potential sales for not a lot of effort.
Know your audiences
Different age and gender demographics tend to use social media differently.
Consider who your audience is, find out which social media channel you’re most likely to reach them, and focus your efforts there.
This is more efficient than simply advertising on all the social channels out there, and will lead to a greater return on investment.
3. Focus on search engine optimisation
SEO can be a powerful tool to bring in customers organically in the short and long term.
While optimising your website should be an ongoing process, it doesn’t hurt to take a look and improve your existing landing pages and product pages.
Ask yourself: how can I make it easier for search engines like Google to crawl my website and bring customers during the upcoming shopping weekend?
This doesn’t mean you need to revamp your entire website. Even just updating copy in strategic pages and products might make a world of difference
According to Frey, one way to optimise your copy is by “analysing your online store’s searches and paying close attention to any terms customers enter into the search field on your site only to be greeted with poor results.”
Once you know which search terms to target, it’s time to start optimising. “Using these search terms, optimise your site copy and metadata as best you can to better align with what customers expect from you.
You can also analyse your website’s search terms to determine which items you should be promoting and putting on sale,” says Frey.
Optimising your website can also help bring foot traffic to your physical store. But first things first: Make sure your store information is properly set up on Google My Business.
People should be able to find your store’s location, contact information and other basic information with a simple search.
When revamping your website, also focus on making information like store hours, health and safety policies and deals you’ll be offering at your store, easily accessible.
Make sure your in-store policies are prominently featured on your website to motivate customers to come in.
Improve your website speed
Patience isn’t common among online shoppers, and having a website that won’t load quickly can easily lose you sales. Approximately 40% of people will leave a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Making sure your website’s speed is up to the task of an added influx of customers on one of the busiest weekends of the year should be high on the list of your priorities.
According to Hosting Wiki’s Marketing Manager, Simonas Steponaitis, “speed is vitally important to your conversion rate—the faster your store loads, the more likely you are to make sales. It is essential to make sure that everything is running quickly and smoothly.”
In order to ensure your website is ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Steponaitis recommends “evaluating what’s critical and how you can improve performance on key pages.” Take a look at which pages have the most visitors and start optimizing those pages first.
“Optimizing your images means reducing their file size without sacrificing quality, so they load faster and always look great, no matter what device your customer uses to view your site.” — Simonas Steponaitis, Marketing Manager of Hosting Wiki
Hosea Chang, COO of Hayden Los Angeles, has even set up a “stand in line” virtually to avoid any issues during the busy days.
According to Chang, it helps to “limit the amount of people that have access to the website at any one time, thus making sure that everyone has their chance to buy, but that the website won’t go down.”
Another way to make sure all your customers have a good experience on your website, she adds, is “to limit the number of purchases allowed for one person, just to ensure that everyone gets to buy what they’re looking for.”
Revamp your website security
Now that your website is ready to take on the weekend rush, it’s time to focus on an even more important subject: website security.
According to Chang, “this is the prime time for hackers and cyber attackers to strike, so investing in better measures of protection and security for your website is where you should be putting your money—and your time—right now.
That is what’s going to make your shoppers feel safe and like their information won’t be stolen, effectively.”
If customers don’t feel comfortable enough inputting their credit card information or if they have any security issues after making a sale, it’ll likely end up costing you future sales.
When it comes to security, it’s important to tackle these problems before they happen.
With Lightspeed’s eCommerce platform you have the ability to secure your online store using 256-bit SSL encryption. This SSl connection is an encrypted connection between web server and web browser (visitors to your store).
All eCom stores are hosted from a secure location, where all data transfers occur over a 256-bit SSL connection. And all your data is encrypted.
Everything from data transfers between your online store and databases, to payment and customer data, is stored in encrypted form.
4. Choose the best items for discounts
While last year’s data might not be as reliable this year due to the changing retail landscape, you can still fall on recent purchase history when making decisions such as discounting.
According to Vasilescu, first you should take a look at new trends to help you decide what products should be discounted.
Vasilescu insists that even though “best-sellers are usually offered at special holiday discounts, this year is different. This pandemic has created a steady demand of products which were not trending in the past. Store owners need to highlight the new trends this year in addition to the regular merchandise.”
While you should still take a look at traditional best sellers and include them in your discounting, you should also take a look at your sales in the past months and analyze the items that people have been adding to their cart recently.
Vasilescu adds that items like “indoor furniture especially for home offices, exercise gear and casual wear have become the new trends. Offering special holiday discounts in these product categories will attract more audiences to your stores.”
Adding discounts with Lightspeed
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday customers will be on the lookout for a range of discounts and offers. According to Wiebe de Boer, Product Marketing Manager at Lightspeed, since the beginning of the pandemic “we have seen a surge in online shopping and I expect that that trend will continue during the upcoming sales weekend. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about discounts and getting the best deals.”
He adds that each shop will have different needs and “with Lightspeed eCom they have the capacity to offer many different types of discounts, through segmentation, upselling, bulk and combination discounting. You just use the ones that serve your business needs best.”
De Boer also recommends letting customers know about those discounts as early as possible.
“As a consumer, part of the shopping experience is doing online research, comparing products and their prices on different stores. Make sure you advertise your BF/CM sale in advance to ensure that your webshop makes it on as many shopping lists as possible.” — Wiebe de Boer, Product Marketing Manager at Lightspeed
5. Stagger sales and discounts
Besides all-time-low pricing, a big part of the allure of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the “limited time offer” concept. People swarm to stores and online shops to get crazy deals during the day or weekend that won’t be available the week after.
While in the past, news of Black Friday might have been accompanied with headlines referencing the record-breaking crowds and images of people trampling others over a toaster, this year (hopefully) the reality will be more serene as stores adhere to social distancing and shift their heavier traffic online.
While great discounts are still at the heart of this buying weekend, some merchants are looking to do things a little differently by offering discounts over an extended period rather than just certain hours or the weekend. Staggering sales and discounts removes the “rush” and keeps customers happy and safe.
Bryan Truong, founder of board game website GameCows, recommends “getting rid of the early bird deals” and that “having the sales last throughout the day would still give consumers the feeling of a deal and a discount without forcing an arbitrary timeline that could get dangerous. Simply offering the same deals online would help too, and stores could even give the option for in-store pickup to cut down on shipping costs.”
Shifting your strategy to accommodate the unique needs of today’s shopper will go a long way and will help kick start the selling season on a positive note.
6. Add contactless alternatives
The retail buzzword of the year is undoubtedly contactless.
According to Google Trends, search interest for the term skyrocketed in April 2020 reaching peak popularity compared with almost nonexistent search interest in April 2019.
While search trends have slightly fizzled since the initial flurry, it’s now becoming a commonplace and essential term for any retail business. So much so that 37% of UK adults now cite contactless as their payment method of choice.
For Moss, “offering shoppers remote, contactless, and online alternatives is going to be vital for brick and mortar retailers this Black Friday/Cyber Monday, to help to keep shoppers physically safe but also and very importantly, to build the brand perception and reassure shoppers enough to tempt them to go out.”
He added that having contactless options shows customers that you have their best interests in mind. “Providing options such as contactless collection and remote payment and delivery help to reassure and encourage shoppers to shop with you.”
This gives customers a choice and “lets customers know that you have thought things through with the appropriate level of gravitas,” says Moss.
While not every store offers delivery there are still other ways to incentivise shoppers. According to Nastassia Steavu, Content Marketing Manager at booxi, “if your business doesn’t offer delivery, curbside pickup is a quick and easy option that offers a safe, convenient experience.
Offering your customers the option to schedule their pickup without having to leave their vehicle avoids in-store lineups, crowded areas and is completely contactless. This is an easy solution to implement that avoids shipping delays during the busy holiday season.”
When planning out your Black Friday and Cyber Monday messaging, make sure to prominently feature options like contactless payments, shipping or curbside and contactless pickup.
Plan your shipping strategy
Shipping is becoming increasingly important for the holiday shopper in the post-pandemic retail world and the days after Black Friday and Cyber Monday are busy days for shipping companies everywhere.
According to OrderCup CEO, Aloke Nath, “carriers all gear up for handling the additional volume by hiring thousands of temporary workers to handle the holiday shipping smoothly. ”
With the increased volume comes an increase in costs. Nath adds that “for the first time, USPS will institute a peak pricing adjustment for shipments between October 18 and December 27.
The pricing adjustment will vary between $0.25 and $1.40.” Understanding peak pricing will help you plan ahead for costs.
Offer free shipping
According to Nath, “it’s a well-known fact that free shipping and returns increase conversions and sales. However, free shipping is never really free, so you have to evaluate this in the context of the overall sale and how it affects your margins.”
Nath also adds that you should take into consideration these factors and strategies to compensate for your free shipping:
- Add a minimum order value threshold to qualify for free shipping
- Offer free shipping for certain products only
- Add free shipping during a specific promotion or time frame
- Include free shipping as part of being a member of a club (such as Amazon Prime)
- Offer free local pickup at the store or warehouse
While free shipping might not be possible for every shop, it’s important to crunch the numbers and weigh the increased sales that it might generate with the costs.
“Often the increase in sales will compensate for the free shipping, but sometimes you will have to adjust the price of items to support free shipping.
Hence it is important to monitor your sales and margins on an ongoing basis to make sure that you still reach your target margins,” says Nath.
7. Step up your customer support
While you might have a lot of your regulars shopping with you during the busy shopping weekend, you’ll also have an influx of new customers that you need to impress by providing excellent customer service.
Busy days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday means you need to have a support team that’s ready for an influx of questions around store hours, offers, shipping, return policies and inventory.
While you might be able to stave off certain questions by having thorough answers on your website, you will still need to be equipped to handle added requests.
Having a positive interaction with a customer will not only solve their immediate needs, but it might also mean future sales and a loyal repeat customer in the making.
According to Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service nine out of ten people who received ‘excellent’ service during Black Friday shopped with that retailer again, 37% more than those who received ‘okay’ service.”
Offer support across all channels
In store, you need to make sure you have enough staff for an influx of customers, while also staying compliant with health and safety requirements.
This might mean that you won’t hire as much additional staff as you did in previous years, but you’ll have to plan accordingly based on your recent foot traffic and in-store customer limit. Online, this means having your customer service information readily available.
According to Ben Graham, Content Manager at AnswerConnect, stores need to “prepare for an influx of digital orders, but also be prepared to guide new shoppers through the purchase journey in the days leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Many consumers will go online in the week prior to these days to compare products and enquire about their spec-points.”
Adding a live chat feature is also a great way to power through all your customers’ messages and positively affect your bottom line.
According to a study by Kayako, over half of consumers are more likely to repurchase from a company that offers live chat support. Not only that, but 79% of businesses say that adding live chat to their customer support arsenal has had “a positive effect on sales, revenue and customer loyalty.”
“Be ready to support them, either with an on-site chatbot or by assigning members of your team to the live chat.” — Ben Graham, Content Manager at AnswerConnect
Another important channel to keep an eye on during the busy shopping days? Your social channels.
Braham adds that “many consumers prefer to speak to a real person, and they often use direct messaging through social media pages to do this. Try to assign different channels to people in your team, and try to respond within an hour or less.”
Making sure you cover all your bases during the busy holiday shopping season will help you gain trust from your customers and establish long term connections with them.
8. Take advantage of apps
Succeeding (and surviving) during Black Friday and Cyber Monday can seem like a daunting task, but you don’t have to go at it alone.
By opting for a point of sale solution like Lightspeed Retail and eCom you count with a multitude of applications that integrate seamlessly with your system.
Check out the following apps to help you win big during the upcoming shopping weekend:
Live chat might be the answer to putting out all sorts of fires during Black Friday and Cyber Monday while also making some sweet sales.
Facebook Chat removes barriers to purchase and lets you answer customer questions in real-time with live customer support through Facebook Messenger directly from your Lightspeed store.
With Facebook Chat you can easily personalise your chat with your branding by adding custom images, customer colours, button text, chat icons, backgrounds and your very own personal welcome message.
You can even set your own trigger controls that allow you to choose which users see your chat, how often they see it and when. This allows you to choose how you interact with customers and gives you more control over the exchange.
This app also allows you instant access to all 50+ POWr apps, like Form Builder, which lets you collect data on your website, and Popup to help boost your landing page conversions.
This Black Friday might look a bit different for your brick-and-mortar shop. booxi helps you get ready for the future of retail by offering smart booking solutions.
It’s time to start adapting to the new reality that consumers are looking for and shift to an omnichannel experience. By adding options like online booking appointments, your business will be able to meet the needs of a life post-pandemic.
With booxi you can add a “Book Now” button or set up a self-serve kiosk in-store to manage individual appointments, group scheduling and events all in one place.
booxi provides an all-in-one scheduling system that allows customers to make appointments and also sends automated notifications through email or sms. With Lightspeed and booxi you also get seamless transfer of data to streamline customer service.
Another way booxi can help you meet modern needs is through videoconferencing. Nastassia Steavu, Content Marketing Manager at booxi, explains that “personal shopper appointments have been proven time and time again that a personalized experience will convert 90% of customers and increase the average basket 4-6x more.
Providing this kind of appointment-based service in-store, by phone or video has proven to be extremely effective.” booxi offers a videoconferencing option where retailers can connect with customers at a distance, offering product suggestions or services.
During hectic days leading to and including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s important to find ways to connect and communicate with customers without having to change the way you work.
Ikeono lets merchants connect with their customers seamlessly through Lightspeed Retail and eCom by using Ikeono Business Texting.
Ikeono’s chat widget is easy to install. It also empowers businesses to not only understand what a customer cares about but also pivot quickly through organic conversations.
With Ikeono you can text-enable your business phone number to send and receive text messages and high resolution picture messages.
Maybe your customer is looking for an item that’s sold out—through the chat widget you can easily let them know about alternative products that are available and still make the sale.
With Ikeono you also get real-time notifications inside and outside of Lightspeed so you can provide great support, at all times.
The best part about Ikeono is the ability to capture customers’ contact info and the questions you’re asking so you can start building more insightful custom audiences.
Through Ikeono you can also collect customer feedback after a sale, gauge customer satisfaction or even rectify a negative experience and increase your brand perception.
Customers are waiting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to do their most expensive purchases. Your best discount on high value items needs the best sales experience.
QuoteMachine helps you personalize the online sales experience through interactive quotes, online order forms and invoices that include advanced payment features that allow for contactless sales.
Quote Machine also helps you get paid on time through their professional invoices with payment terms, account statements, recurring billings and subscriptions made available through Lightspeed’s register.
With flexible payment features like credit card on file you can easily manage the way you accept payments and start accepting digital payments for any amount.
Through QuoteMachine, you can also easily sell through social media and organize contactless sales and pickups with their interactive price lists and online order forms.
And ofcourse, it’s fully customizable. Create beautiful templates that show your brand and colors, enriched product descriptions, documents that tell you when your customers read them and let them take action.
BE ready for Balck Friday Cyber Monday 2021
Want to see how Lightspeed can help you this holiday season? Contact our retail experts today for a personalized consultation.