Mastering Black Friday: A Comprehensive Guide to Preparing Your Online Store for Success
As online retailers, we’re on the brink of one of the most eagerly anticipated seasons – a time of discounts, promotions, and holiday sales. In this article, we’ll take you through a crucial checklist of processes and tasks every retailer should consider when gearing up for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year sales. But before we dive into the preparations, let’s address a fundamental question that can make or break your success in this retail frenzy…
When should preparations for Black Friday and other holiday discounts begin?
This year, Black Friday falls on November 24, and Cyber Monday on November 27. The timing of preparations varies depending on the company’s scale. For small and medium-sized businesses, it is recommended to commence preparations no later than two months before the event date. This means that companies participating in Black Friday should kickstart their preparations at the end of September or the beginning of November. For larger companies, the timeframe may differ, ranging from starting six months before the discount date to immediately after the last Black Friday.
The discount offer stands as the foremost and most critical aspect to consider. In this phase, the task is to decide which products should receive discounts, whether they will be bundled in some way (a common approach is to combine a best-seller with a slower-moving product) or whether it’s time to clear out stagnant inventory in the warehouse. Another crucial factor is determining the duration of the discount and the timing of its announcement. While some companies opt for an entire Black Week, others limit it to Black Weekend, among other strategies. In terms of announcing the offer, it’s vital to do so in a way that doesn’t cannibalize sales for the entire month. Most importantly, the offer should be genuine, even if the discount is relatively small.
The second crucial task in preparing your online store is ensuring it can handle higher levels of traffic, a mandatory and essential condition for a successful promotional campaign. Inform your technical team to thoroughly assess and prepare the servers. Conduct necessary tests to evaluate how the site performs under increased traffic loads, and pay close attention to testing the checkout process, as issues often arise during high loads.
To help your technical team prepare systems for upcoming events, it’s advisable to gather data in advance and provide them with estimates of the expected traffic during the campaign. This should include an approximate number of visitors and orders, as well as predictions for which pages will receive the most traffic during the campaign period.
Website preparation also involves making decisions on promotion methods and creating a clear user pathway. For instance, a common practice is to design a separate landing page for the promotion or a dedicated category. After making this decision, the next steps include structuring and building the page, if applicable, and implementing the necessary technical elements.
This phase encompasses the creation of ad views, along with the design of various key elements such as the landing page, home page, category pages (if applicable), and product pages. Additionally, it involves the creation of product labels to distinguish campaign products from others and the implementation of timers or other promotional solutions.
Of course, all these design elements should be included in the testing phase to ensure a clear understanding of what users will experience.
We mustn’t overlook the vital step of thoroughly checking the mobile version of the site after the redesign and any changes made during the preparation.
We begin by developing an advertising strategy and establishing a budget. This involves allocating the budget to various communication channels and structuring their timing, such as deciding which channels will start earlier or later in the campaign.
Advertising slogans, visuals, and text
- Teaser Campaign: One week before the actual campaign, you can initiate a teaser campaign. It’s crucial to carefully plan when to launch it to avoid cannibalizing sales for the upcoming weeks or month.
- Audience Building: To effectively leverage the traffic generated during your Christmas and New Year campaigns, consider creating Facebook and Google audiences of people who shopped on Black Friday. This can include individuals who:
- Visited the Black Friday landing page
- Viewed the offers
- Made purchases on Black Friday
- Implementing Look-a-like and Similar audiences.
- Remarketing Campaigns: Among the most effective ads during this period are remarketing campaigns on Facebook and Google. As part of our preparation, we also include creating product feeds for the advertising platforms.
- Landing Page Indexing: If you’re creating a landing page for the campaign, it’s beneficial to release it for indexing ahead of time. Many customers begin searching for offers in advance, and this early release aids in audience building and remarketing efforts during the campaign.
Don’t overlook your most cost-effective channels, your established information channels. Here, consider running a pre-campaign for your regular customers. In this column, using email communication is essential. Two or three days before Black Friday, inform your customers about the upcoming campaign. On the day of the event, notify them that the sale has started. Many companies offer a pre-sale to online store customers, allowing them to shop before stocks run out, preventing disappointment.
If you haven’t already set up abandoned cart emails, make sure to do so. If you already have them, remember to adapt their design to the Black Friday theme. It’s a great idea to include a timer in the email, counting down the remaining time of the campaign. This creates a sense of urgency and can boost your sales.
A common challenge is unexpectedly high sales, leading to difficulties in processing, shipping, and timely deliveries. Follow these steps to navigate logistics:
- Check product availability for items included in the discounts.
- Verify when newly ordered goods will arrive in your warehouse.
- If items are arriving from outside the EU, consider customs clearance times.
- Review delivery times offered by courier companies and inquire about any potential delays or early delivery options.
- Have contingency plans for additional vendors if you rely on your own transportation.
- If the delivery process differs from the norm, update your site with a message about the change.
- Evaluate the speed of order picking, order processing times, and assess whether any adjustments to your warehouse software are necessary.
While not everything can be predicted, it’s common to experience delivery delays and similar issues. If such issues arise, ensure you contact your customers promptly or find alternative means of communication.
Remember that Black Friday doesn’t conclude at 23:59 on November 26. Performing a comprehensive analysis after a successful sales period is crucial. This analysis should encompass what customers purchased, their actions, the effectiveness of various marketing channels, delivery performance, and interactions with couriers. After the analysis, draw conclusions and apply them in preparation for future promotional periods, including the next Black Friday.
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