There’s no doubt that Black Friday is well-known by shoppers and retailers, but did you know that it has actually been around as a retail holiday since the 80s? In the last 15 years, Black Friday has morphed into more than just a day, thanks to the debut of the e-commerce equivalent Cyber Monday in 2005. Now, Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) have become one of the biggest shopping periods of the year. It’s no longer deemed as a U.S. tradition – Canadians are participating in increasing numbers, as are many other countries around the world.
In the past few years, the interest in Black Friday amongst Canadians has grown by 46% (and U.S. growth is slightly less at 43%). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, government mandates and the general avoidance of busy spaces have caused many shoppers to opt for online shopping over in-store visits. And even where 2020 sales dipped due to the pandemic, the consensus is bright for BFCM e-commerce sales. In fact, a recent survey showed that 42% of e-commerce brands felt their business would perform better this holiday weekend than in 2019.
While 81% of consumers start shopping in November, retailers and shippers should be prepared for peak season by late summer. And there’s a good reason for all of this preparation – BFCM continues to grow well beyond the 4-day weekend. Many retailers offer deals throughout the week and some are even making Black Friday a month-long event, lasting all of November!
Is your e-commerce site ready for it? Here’s what you need to consider to make sure you’re prepared to deliver on the biggest shopping weekend of the year:
1. Be ready for a rise in online traffic
The convenient e-commerce deals that have stemmed from Cyber Monday mean customers no longer feel the need to compete with the crowds. This year has seen huge risers in e-commerce sales. According to Digital Commerce, the top 2000 North American e-commerce sites saw 125% more visits on average in Q2, 2020, compared with Q2, 2019. With more consumers choosing to shop from the comfort of the internet, it’s important to ensure your online store is ready to handle the wave of visitors hunting for deals.
Review your website well in advance to make sure you have enough time to address any issues before the big weekend.
- Is your website loading at adequate speed?
- Are prices up-to-date?
- Are shipping options accurate?
- Have you updated policies for BFCM deals?
While reviewing your site, ensure your website is optimized for customers to easily find you. Canada ranked 8th overall for Black Friday search volume, showcasing how many shoppers use search engines to check for deals rather than heading straight to a site. You can do this by running an SEO (search engine optimization) checking tool, such as Google Lighthouse. Also, test out the buying process yourself to make sure it’s streamlined and simplistic. And of course, check your internal order and delivery tracking systems are running as expected.
2. Have a process strategy in place for influxes
In March 2020, many businesses saw huge purchase influxes without warning, causing a total breakdown of some supply chains. Without the preparedness of many businesses, the same would happen around BFCM weekend too. Consider your busiest weekend and double it to be safe – do you have the stock, manpower, space and processes in place to deliver your promises? If you don’t think you do, you need to create a strategy now. Check your stock well in advance to ensure you’ve got enough time to order additional items, bring on some temporary workers, rent out additional warehouse space and work through any bottleneck processes. If this seems easier to say than do and you’re worried about getting orders out, there’s an easy solution too: provide clear messaging about your shipping times, in-stock items and anything else needed to set the right expectations.
3. Don’t let marketing costs eat into your increased sales
While sales are often boosted during the holiday, make sure you don’t find yourself depleting your bottom line. While you want to make sure you’re prepared, it’s just as important to set a budget and stick to it – don’t spend too much on your online marketing strategy, or cut prices more than you can afford. Not only will this help keep your costs manageable and relatively safe, it’ll also give you a chance to jump on investments that will add value to your business beyond Black Friday.
Don’t let shipping costs eat into your sales either! Read our 6 Easy Ways to Save Big on Shipping Costs.
4. Move shipments quickly with a robust packaging process
Black Friday is likely to be one of your busiest weekends this year. Get ready to meet consumer demand by setting up a robust packaging process now. To ensure your customers have a positive shipping experience, order packing and shipping materials well in advance and keep them close at hand. When you have packaging materials on-site, you can pack orders right away, saving you time and reducing the risk of shipping delays. Also, make sure the packaging is sturdy and secure to endure its journey. According to a recent survey, 58% of consumers stated that a damaged package would deter them from buying a product again. Use bubble wrap, strong cardboard boxes and self-seal bubble mailers to do everything you can to protect your product (and your customer’s experience!)
5. Prepare your team for BFCM questions
An increase in sales will likely have a direct correlation with the volume of inquiries to your customer service. Customers may contact you with questions such as the following:
- The deals you’re offering
- How to navigate your website
- If out-of-stock items will be replenished
- The status of their delivery
Take the time to prepare your staff accordingly, so you make a lasting impression on new and returning customers. Arrange staff meetings to review expectations, procedures and predicted questions so they’re ready for specific inquiries that relate to the holiday. If they’re prepared with the right answers, your customer service team will be ready to resolve customer needs while under pressure. If you’re highly likely to receive a lot more traffic, consider hiring temporary staff and creating a dedicated channel to field questions that are specific to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This will keep your regular (non-holiday specific) queries unaffected from timely waits.
If you have your own online order, delivery and tracking system, now is a good time to check in on its usability and work out any gaps to help deliver a seamless customer experience.
6. Use a reliable delivery provider for your Black Friday shipping
This shopping holiday is also one of the best opportunities to market your business towards new customers. As these customers are still building a relationship with your business, it’s important that you leave a good lasting impression, so they return again. Customers don’t tend to think about the logistics of their package, they focus on the delivery itself.
Here are some functions a reliable delivery provider can help you with Black Friday shipping:
- The opportunity to expand your delivery options, such as offering weekend, next-day and even same-day deliveries.
- Access to a large delivery fleet to support your increased deliveries.
- Peace of mind that your packages will be delivered without unnecessary handoffs, decreasing any risk that deliveries will be late, damaged or lost entirely.
- Expertise to review the supply chain you already have in place. Also, they can give recommendations for best practice packaging, consolidation solutions and inventory management.
Black Friday preparedness has huge benefits for your business, so do what you can now before it’s too late. Engaging bargain hunters and delivering on your promises can convert a new consumer base into loyal shoppers. We wish you a successful (and fun) Black Friday and Cyber Monday!