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Everything You Need to Know About Black Friday & Cyber Monday

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By Sarah - October 22, 2020- in Ecommerce Go-Getter Blog

Ecommerce retailers eagerly await the week surrounding Thanksgiving as one of the most lucrative sale seasons. Black Friday weekend continually makes head-turning headlines as being one for the record books with $7.4 billion in revenue in 2019 alone. Cyber Monday quickly surpassed those figures, with a reported $9.4 billion haul during the same year.
This year will look a little different, with 2020 changing the landscape for every industry. The pandemic was already accelerating ecommerce trends, with an increase in online consumer spending of $93.9 billion since March 2020. Black Friday & Cyber Monday are sure to shatter previous records as more people stay home or shop & take advantage of deals. Although everyone wants to get back to normal & get COVID under control, the projected sales surge is still good news for retailers looking to corner more of the market for their ecommerce brand. 
Ready to get in on the sales season by understanding the what & why of Black Friday & Cyber Monday? Here’s where to start.

What is Black Friday?

The Friday after Thanksgiving was designated as the kickoff of the Christmas season when President Lincoln designated Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November. The connection between Thanksgiving & the shopping season was solidified further when Eaton’s department store launched the first parade in 1905. The move inspired Macy’s to launch the same tactic by 1924. 
Despite the holiday shopping season’s long history, it wasn’t until 1966 that the Black Friday name became famous. An ad in a stamp collector’s magazine first printed the term in a promotion, although people had already been calling in sick for years to take advantage of shopping sales. Black Friday is typically tied to brick & mortar shopping — however, it does roll-over to online sales. Ecommerce retailers often launch online promotions during Black Friday to stay competitive or cross-promote items from their digital to physical presence.
Shoppers take Black Friday as seriously as ever with annual headline-making crowds filled with consumers ready to pounce. Shoppers line up in droves in the middle of the night, or even the day before, to be first in line to tackle in-store discounts on high-ticket items. Due to COVID, stores are cancelling traditional Black Friday sales & moving to online-only deals to eliminate crowds gathering at their storefronts.

What is Cyber Monday?

In 2005, christened the Monday after Thanksgiving as Cyber Monday. Not everyone had high-speed internet connections to take advantage of the digital sales when it first launched, but today’s lightning speed WiFi in millions of households makes Cyber accessible to millions. The trend also means ecommerce retailers must stay competitive to attract a market share of shoppers.
By 2017, Cyber Monday had surpassed Black Friday’s revenue & retailers bumped up their promotions to allow consumers shop even earlier. Some big box retailers offer Cyber Monday sales on Thanksgiving Day to take advantage of people spending time at home. And it’s not just about cost savings. According to Adobe Digital Insights, more than 40% of time-strapped shoppers said the 24-hour convenience is their highest priority when it comes to Cyber Monday sales. 

More Consumers Will Shop on Mobile

Is your ecommerce store optimized for mobile shopping? In 2019, mobile shoppers broke the $3 billion mark in revenue. You may think your store is safe if it uses a mobile responsive design, but that’s just the start. A responsive design resizes your site for mobile, instead of designing your entire site with mobile shoppers in mind. Improving your site for mobile also helps your site rank better in Google.

Expect Sale Surges & Inventory Disruptions 

Ecommerce retailers can expect to see impressive sales surges with the right promotions & marketing. Sales may peak on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but consumers are likely to shop throughout Thanksgiving week. 
Planning ahead for inventory is crucial to take advantage of the traffic surge, as well as offering a seamless customer experience. You may need additional inventory storage space, or extra help to fulfill orders throughout the sales season. Keep in mind that the pandemic may also interrupt supply chains & delay manufacturing. Discounting your excess inventory is one way to offset these issues, or cross-selling popular items with less desirable inventory.
You can also look to white labeled products & fulfillment centers as a way to stay competitive without worrying about inventory issues. For example, CustomCat’s products are fully customizable — we fulfill & ship items to your customers while adhering to strict quality control standards. You get to spontaneously increase your sales without the headaches that come with trying to predict sale surges & inventory supply.  

Ecommerce Owners Need a Promotional Strategy

Black Friday & Cyber Monday promotions can be simple & straight-forward, but they also need a strategy in place. Plan promotions that focus on earning loyal customers, not just shoppers looking for a quick deal. Otherwise, your sales could end up eating too far into your profit margins without any real return on your ROI. 
Here are a few ways to questions to ask yourself to plan for the season strategically:

  • Which products do my current customers buy again & again?
  • Will this promotion attract the type of target audience I’m looking for? (ie: outdoor enthusiasts)
  • Is there an opportunity to nurture shoppers into higher-ticket items after my promotion ends?
  • Can I upsell discount shoppers on other products or identify valuable cross-promotions to my other inventory?

It’s inevitable you’ll end up with shoppers who stopped by your store to score a quick deal. However, a strategic promotion offsets the influx of drive-by shoppers & helps you snag consumers that are likely to convert for the long-run, creating a higher value customer acquisition.

Don’t Expect Customers to Just Show Up

Black Friday & Cyber Monday are usually easy wins for ecommerce shops attracting eager customers who are ready to pounce. However, the influx of eager consumers doesn’t guarantee automatic sales. Strategic promotions are one place to start, as well as creating multiple touchpoints for your customers.
Your customers need more information to anticipate your sales & put your ecommerce shop on the forefront of their shopping list. Warm them up with a variety of announcements during the weeks leading up to your sale through:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media posts
  • Live chat apps
  • Banner promotions on your website

Offering customers who signed-up for your email list first dibs on shopping is also a way to cultivate feelings of exclusivity & increase sales. Try providing a one-time coupon code before your public sales launch to get a leg-up on your competition.

Expect Your Competitors to Activate on Social Media

Regularly touching base with your customers about your offers through the aforementioned channels is integral in turning customer contact into a conversion. Social media is also a vital part of a successful holiday sales campaign. 
Beyond promoting your sales on Facebook, Instagram, and beyond, it’s also important to carefully watch what your competitors are doing. Ask yourself:

  • What types of promotions are my competitors running?
  • Who is their target audience? 
  • How frequently are they communicating with customers on social media?
  • What social media channels are they actively selling from? 

The more you understand what your competition looks like, the better choices you can make for your ecommerce store. There’s also no need to reinvent the wheel when you can gather inspiration from others. Your competition is already showing you what’s working & what’s not, providing valuable insights about your own audience.

Collect Data for Next Year

Whether you’re new to Black Friday & Cyber Monday or are a seasoned veteran, it’s imperative to collect data to help shape next year’s holiday sale boom. Make sure Google Analytics is installed into your site & study where customers are coming from, how long they spent on your site, & what they did while they were there. Keeping tabs on your inventory can also help predict next year’s sales surge to make better choices about what to promote & what to ease back on. 
Remember that Black Friday & Cyber Monday are just part of the holiday sales cycle. Our holiday calendar can also help you market your ecommerce business throughout the year from January all the way through December to take advantage of promotional opportunities.

With the right approach & expectations for your store, Black Friday & Cyber Monday can be a big win for ecommerce retailers. For 2020, the pandemic will only aid in a sales boost & benefit retailers prepared for success.

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