Cyber 5 weekend has changed irreversibly — and arguably for the better.
Black Friday was traditionally an in-store shopping experience that gave brick-and-mortar retailers one last chance to go from red (loss) to black (profit) in the U.S. It has since turned into a five-day spending spree from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday and is a beacon for bargain hunters worldwide.
Over the years, e-commerce has caught up with brick-and-mortar Cyber 5 sales. The pandemic accelerated this at warp speed. Last year’s shopping holiday brought in more than $34 billion dollars, a 300% increase in sales year over year. With in-store shopping back in full swing, this year is only looking up.
Retailers may have struggled to adjust to a new era of shopping last year, running out of time and resources to optimize their online experience, and inventory. Not this year. Shoppers will flock to good deals, both in-store and online, yielding even more purchase opportunities. Leverage the time you have now to prepare for what could be the biggest shopping season yet.
Here are five ways you can win over this upcoming holiday season.
1. Leverage your data.
In the online world, data is king. You have access to such a wealth of information, it’s in your bottom line’s best interest to mine that data and use it to your advantage.
At the most basic level, your data can help you understand who your customer is, what their shopping patterns are throughout the year and how their purchasing behavior differs during Cyber 5 events.
Next, use your site search reporting to inform your strategy. If customers received “no results found” last year, what were they looking for and how can you ensure they don’t get a zero-yield result again? Customers who receive no results tend to bounce, so you may need to revise your on-site search parameters accordingly.
Finally, many shoppers do research in the weeks leading up to Cyber 5, so keep an eye on your search queries to identify the products they’re already looking for this year. These searches can be a good indicator of which items you should highlight in your campaigns.
2. Optimize your site now.
Don’t wait until game time; you’ll be too busy. The weeks and days leading up to Cyber 5 shouldn’t make you scramble. Automation is your best friend. From abandoned cart emails to customer service and fulfillment, have everything in place, ready to launch and tested before the time comes.
Those search query insights we mentioned above — this is also the time to use them to optimize your site’s search and merchandising.
3. Build customer loyalty.
Black Friday started as a means to an end. For retailers, it meant bringing in lots of revenue in a single day before the end of the year. For customers, it represents a once-a-year opportunity to make big purchases at steep discounts. Unfortunately, that doesn’t bode well for customer lifetime value (CLV), since their loyalties remain with the best price.
But, if you can establish trust long before this shopping holiday, and have shoppers come to your site before, during and after Cyber 5, then your business stands a better chance at earning (and maintaining) that customer’s loyalty — whether you have the best deals or not. The weeks and months preceding Black Friday are the perfect time to incentivize customers to join your loyalty program for this very reason.
Don’t fall into the trap of deep discounting to attract one-off shoppers that will never return. The quick win shouldn’t be your main strategy since it chips away at your CLV.
4. Create an omnichannel experience.
To truly be considered omnichannel, it’s important for customers to get a consistent experience with your brand, no matter the touchpoint. That means your promotions, messaging and product display should be the same across your website, in-store, Amazon, social media — everywhere.
Think of the one-to-one service that a shopper would receive from an in-store sales associate. Does your website offer the same level of personalization? Can it recommend products that are relevant to the individual customer’s preferences? Is it equipped to cross-sell complementary accessories or upsell similar products? Replicating this experience on your site with features like personalized recommendations and a live chat is key to delivering an omnichannel shopping journey.
Bridging the gap between in-store and online experiences will ensure the consistency and familiarity that customers crave. This will also further cement the customer loyalty that will yield dividends in the long run.
5. Be prepared.
Famous last words. Prepare for the unexpected — except in the case of e-commerce, where we pretty much know what to expect when it comes to Cyber 5.
Make sure your store can withstand spikes in traffic and site speed won’t be affected — sites have crashed over less. And, just in case, have a playbook for the worst-case scenario. Prepare a “we’re sorry” email that you can send quickly if something goes wrong.
Make sure your inventory is up-to-date — sending a post-purchase email to say products are out of stock isn’t a good look.
Finally, make sure fulfillment and customer service is prepared for the influx of orders and shipping times are generous — delays during this time of year are par for the course.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
There’s so much to do and, believe it or not, so little time. The earlier you begin planning and prepping for Black Friday, the better off your team will be. Get started now to leave time for testing, so you can ensure no links are broken and no gaps exist in your shopping experience.
Remember, Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the start of the busiest shopping period of the year — but also the most lucrative. As such, it’s not something that can be thrown together at the last minute, like the Secret Santa gift you forgot to buy for Jerry in accounting. (Sorry, Jerry.)
Posted by Forbes on