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Part #1: Prepping your eCommerce Store for A Successful Black Friday

Black Friday is one of the biggest events in retail for shoppers worldwide. With it falling on 24th November 2017, it’s time to get your eCommerce site up to scratch! 

We’re here with part one of our Black Friday guide to take you through some essential steps that’ll give your customers a successful shopping experience during one of the biggest days in retail.

The World of Retail is Changing

With the retail game constantly evolving and technology impacting consumer buying habits, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on emerging shopping trends. As a retailer, you should be no stranger to the changes in customer expectations and the continued growth of mobile commerce playing dominant roles in eCommerce trends.

Trends To Watch Out For

Trends aren’t just here today and gone tomorrow. They happen over time and occur from gradual buying patterns, so watching out for the latest trends needs to be an ongoing process. Deciding to look a week before Black Friday can lead to inaccurate interpretations of what topics, trends and fashions are popular for your industry.

As a general insight, evolving eCommerce trends include:

Remember: Make sure you are looking at the new trends within your specific industry. You want to tailor your marketing strategies to your customer preferences, not someone else’s.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

The Salesforce 2017 Guide to Holiday Readiness has stated that shoppers are showing more buying intent on mobile than on desktop or laptop. Mobile isn’t just seen as a place to do your retail research. With many brands becoming mobile optimised and even developing an app, users are now willing to make a purchase from smartphones!

Black Friday eCommerce Success

“The story of the 2017 shopping season will undoubtedly be mobile, so it goes without saying that retailers who don’t take a mobile-first approach will be left behind — and fast.” – Salesforce

As fewer people are willing to queue, venture out the house for the best bargains or fight for discounted items, Black Friday is becoming less about bricks and mortar and more online focused. That doesn’t mean you are going to see empty stores on Black Friday, it’s just a helpful to remember that you need to cater to all those shoppers celebrating this retail day online by being as mobile-friendly as possible!

The Best Practices

What are the best practices to capitalise on the growing adoption of mobile shopping?

Online Shopping v In-store Shopping

The gap is getting smaller. Online shopping is closing in on in-store shopping with customers becoming more experimental online. 

The Alliance Data 2017 Holiday Retail Outlook report highlighted some key statistics in customer behaviour for online and in-store retail.

Online shopping brings customers the convenience of swiping, tapping and clicking over a trip to a shopping centre. Although the bustling crowds and twinkling lights are a part of the holiday shopping experience, digital tools are contributing to making the online retail experience just as festive.

“As digital elements pervade the in-store experience, customers are increasingly able to self-service and navigate their own interaction, without sacrificing any of the experiences they expect and love.” – Alliance Data 2017 Holiday Retail Outlook

Customer Demand for Personalisation

According to the Salesforce 2017 Guide to Holiday Readiness report, it is clear that shoppers are getting picky. Customers are demanding more personalised eCommerce content. So, for every retailer out there, get listening!

With less time to spend shopping and the expectation of retail needs to be answered quickly, eCommerce stores must ensure users see offers and products tailored to them. Saving your customers time should be a priority of any eCommerce store. Through personalisation and immediate customer service, you can keep customer focus on the brand rather than have them wandering to your competitors.

How to Customise Content

  1. Create business persona profiles to find the most valuable customers to target.
  2. Personalise email marketing content to address receivers by their name and show them content they are to be interested in (getting this data can be done through contact form submission, surveys and from gaining the information via phone calls).
  3. Personalise social media content by tailoring call to actions to what customers really want to see, e.g. if your customers are found to enjoy browsing online but buying in-store, create calls to action such as “Find Us In-Store” and so on.
  4. Use automated systems that integrate customer data from your CRM database to create personalised content for your target audience whilst reducing lead-generation costs.

Planning Your Campaign Early

For major retail events like the Black Friday weekend, it’s especially important to plan your campaign early. This way, in the weeks leading up to the events, you can focus on making those small but crucial checks and tweaks that could otherwise result in errors and missed opportunities.

Remember: Plan your campaigns well in advance to reach those shoppers buying early and to give you the best chance of finding the right partners for getting a boost from outside your business. Being prepared helps you to find faults and to make changes before they not only damage the campaign’s success, but your overall brand too!

Have a Contingency Plan

You may be the most prepared retailer in the UK, or even worldwide, but that doesn’t make your campaign for Black Friday 100% fail-proof. But putting a plan in place can help your campaign to run smoothly and successfully.

We suggest some ways to combat those unexpected problems by building a contingency plan:

Example 1: Add a queuing system to your site to place customers in a waiting line to access your products. This can help to control the surge and reduce the chances of site crashes as well as relieving strain on back-end and operations during the fixing of the issue.

Example 2: Request for increased capacity before a surge, if possible. It is almost guaranteed for most retailers offering eCommerce promotions during Black Friday, that you will experience an upturn in traffic. So, get talking to your website host. Upscaling your website capacity can be done in advance to cater to your traffic needs. Although, this isn’t always a viable option so you may need to prepare your website to handle traffic surges in other ways.

Remember: Things can go wrong and that’s okay. But it’s important to be able to problem solve these issues. Be agile. Meet the changing customer expectations. Consider a 70/30 rule, where you know 70% of what is happening, whilst 30% is subject to change. This will enable you to react and respond in the right way during a busy period, especially one like Black Friday.

Shopping Starts Earlier

Black Friday eCommerce Success

Sales don’t only occur on Black Friday. And with the buzz around Black Friday being so big, it’s harder to guarantee you will bag yourself a bargain. So, people start shopping earlier.

“Nearly a third of holiday gift buyers polled last year said they started their shopping in October or earlier; this year, even more shoppers will start early.” – eMarketer

Retail is and always has been, a competitive industry. Many brands offer yearly discounts and sales in an attempt to attract new customers, retain existing customers and sell excess stock. All of which creates consumer expectations for many eCommerce stores to have regular sales and even a constant sale section on their site. Buying from the ‘new in’ section can for many customers, particularly those on a budget, be a turn-off. Having the newest products stereotypically means paying the highest price. Navigating to the sale section allows customers to see affordable products at prices they are willing to pay – even if that does mean buying a size smaller or bigger!

Buying from the ‘new in’ section can for many customers, particularly those on a budget, be a turn-off. Having the newest products stereotypically means paying the highest price. Navigating to the sale section allows customers to see affordable products at prices they are willing to pay – even if that does mean buying a size smaller or bigger!

Advertising, advertising, advertising

It’s pretty simple. If you don’t advertise yourself, you don’t exist to customers which does not work well for sales. The same applies for major retail events. Just because you are a retailer doesn’t necessarily mean you are celebrating Black Friday weekend. Your customers need to know that you are, so they can buy your bargains.

How to Showcase Your Top Black Friday Deals

There are many different methods that you can use. From email marketing with discount codes to using Social Media to post exclusive deals or updates. Or stating specifically on your channels “Black Friday Exclusive Deals”, changing your landing page links to a Black Friday specific page or creating banners tailored to your Black Friday bargains on the homepage.

Whichever way you choose to show your involvement in Black Friday, it’s important to get this content seen and promoted across all platforms to reach as many potential customers as possible. We even suggest contacting well-known bloggers or social media influencers to get promotional agreements with them.

Closing Words

Okay, so you know more about how to tackle such a humongous retail event head-on to achieve success. Its clear mobile is going to have a big impact on almost every retailer out there and with changing customer behaviour and preferences, you need to keep a watchful eye on trends so you can plan your marketing strategies to perfection.

Don’t forget this is a two-parter! Check out next week’s Black Friday tips to dive deeper into:

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