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Our 15-Point Checklist to Prepare Your Online Store for Black Friday


Our 15-Point Checklist to Prepare Your Online Store for Black Friday

August 28, 2020

Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is a tremendous opportunity for eCommerce Businesses to make money.

In 2018, over $1.5 billion was collectively sold by Shopify merchants around the world during BFCM—and shoppers spent billions more throughout the four-day event at businesses of all shapes and sizes.

If you want to get in on this year’s biggest shopping weekend, now is the time to start planning.

A checklist to prepare for a breakthrough Black Friday Cyber Monday

Successfully navigating Black Friday Cyber Monday can be stressful for many store owners as they ready their campaigns and prepare their business for an influx of traffic, sales, orders to fulfill, and support requests.

In this Blog, we will discuss ways on how you, an Online Business Owner, can improve your Ad Campaigns and Landing Pages to skyrocket your Sales to the sky and above. Honey Whale have devised a checklist that will greatly improve your chances of having the greatest BFCM season since the inception of your eCommerce Store.

The goal is simple: more sales, happier customers, fewer headaches. As always, it’s the execution that’s hard. With this checklist, you'll have a plan that can survive contact with the real world.

Start planning now

1. Prepare early for customers who have already started researching

Prepare your holiday sales as early as you can and let your customers and visitors know about your upcoming sale well in advance.

According to research from McKinsey & Company, over 70% of US shoppers plan to participate in BFCM. Not only do you need to start preparing early, but you also need to ensure that customers looking for gift ideas and information on particular products find you amongst the sea of competitors.

2. Craft an irresistible BFCM offer

A strategy many retailers use is to run a “jaw-dropping” sale on a popular item to attract customers to their store.

Once customers come for the “doorbuster”, there’s a chance they’ll pick up a few other items on their way to the checkout. Occasionally this product serves as a loss leader, with the difference being made up by customers adding more to their cart than they would have without the flagship product’s deep discount.

What can’t-miss sale will draw people to your store? If you’re sending an email to your subscribers, consider focusing on the one sale product you feel is the most enticing, instead of promoting all of your Black Friday Cyber Monday sales at the same time.

Once you’ve attracted new visitors to your store, employ a few proven approaches to boost your average order value, like offering free shipping above a certain threshold or offering seasonal product bundles. That way, you’ll nudge people to add more to their cart beyond just the initial offer that convinced them to visit your store.

3. Organize your upcoming sales

Look at all of your products and plan your deals and discounts ahead of time instead of putting on a sale last minute. Review your margins and inventory to find suitable discounts, and learn how to set up different discounts on Shopify. For this BFCM, you can now create automatic discounts that will apply on a user’s eligible cart.

One idea is to create a “planned sales map” in Google Sheets or Excel, giving you a simple outline of all your upcoming sales. Here’s a pre-made Google Sheets template you can use to plan your sales this year. Just go to File > Make a copy to save it to your Drive.

Choose the products you want to run a holiday sale on and schedule their start dates and sale prices. This way, when the holiday sale rolls around, you can refer to your plans instead of scrambling at the last minute. You can find help in the Shopify App Store to make scheduling sales easy.

4. Create contingency plans

Do you have the proper backups in place in case anything goes awry? What happens if the shipping company you work with becomes too busy? How quickly can you restock inventory if you sell out earlier than expected?

We're not looking to stir up unfounded fears, but it's important to prepare for tough situations. Think about the worst case scenarios for your business and create contingency plans wherever possible. It’s much easier to handle the planning now, versus troubleshooting in the midst of the biggest sales weekend of the year.

Prepare for an uptick in demand

5. Test or ensure your website can handle a surge in traffic

Sometimes, too many simultaneous requests to your website can bog it down and potentially crash your site. This kind of downtime usually takes an enormous amount of traffic to occur, but it’s still a good idea to ensure your host can handle a spike in traffic.

You can test the server load capacity of your store with tools like

6. Ensure your store can handle increased demand

If you rely on a supplier for your inventory, or your product is created or manufactured by you or your team, consider the increased demand you’ll experience during the holiday season.

Use forecasting tools to help you better predict sales and to order enough supplies before BFCM.

Work with your suppliers and ensure they’re prepared to handle your projected sales for the holiday season. One of the worst things that can happen during a sale is selling out faster than you wanted to and not meeting the demand of your customers.

Ready your campaigns and creative

7. Create banners and hero images to advertise holiday sales

What better way to promote your holiday sales than with gorgeous graphics and visuals? Whether you’re planning to use banner ads to promote your holiday sales or changing the header/hero image on your homepage for Black Friday Cyber Monday, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to get things done.

If you lack graphic design chops, you could use a template from CreativeMarket, use online design tools like Canva, or hire a freelance designer to create your graphics.

8. Plan ads and ad copy

It’s always a good idea to plan the ads and ad copy you’re about to run for a sale or promotion ahead of time so you can put more thought into copy and ad placement.

9. Build suspense and buzz around your upcoming sale

It’s easy to announce a Black Friday Cyber Monday sale, but building suspense and buzz can help make it an outsized success.

Entice your customers with emails of what’s to come, post sneak peeks of upcoming sales on social media, and start piquing the curiosity of your customers. The sooner you begin doing this, the more momentum you will have during Black Friday Cyber Monday when you finally announce the sale.

Test and optimize for conversion

10. Consider creating abandoned cart emails

According to Barilliance, the average cart abandonment rate on Black Friday 2018 in the US was 82%. Of course, you’ll want to try and keep that number as low as possible.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is by setting up targeted abandoned cart emails. This way, when a customer adds a product to their cart but leaves your store, you can use a compelling email to bring them back to complete their purchase.

Shopify makes this easy with built-in abandoned checkout recovery and a wide selection of abandoned cart apps in the Shopify App Store.

11. Think mobile first

In 2018, Shopify stores saw more mobile purchases than desktop purchases across all of BFCM for the second year in a row.

12. Test your site and get feedback

What if you could get inside the head of a potential customer and listen to their thoughts as they navigate your store for the first time? There could be issues you don't notice or areas of your store where you can make simple improvements—a fresh pair of eyes is the perfect way to surface these otherwise hidden opportunities.

There are many ways to get someone to go through your store and give you feedback, but one great option is UserTesting. UserTesting lets you set parameters about who you’d like to test your store. Then you can watch a random user fitting that description browse your website so you can listen to their feedback.

Feedback is valuable, but you also shouldn’t make unconsidered changes to your store based on a single source of negative feedback. Instead, look for common snags or areas where visitors are frequently confused or frustrated, and brainstorm solutions to make things easier or more explicit, or ways to remove the hurdle altogether.

13. Place tracking pixels

If you run paid campaigns such as Facebook Ads or Google Smart Shopping campaigns, both of which you can set up directly in Shopify, you should place retargeting pixels on your website so you can remarket to your holiday sale traffic. Here’s how to find and generate tracking pixel code for your website with Facebook Ads and Google AdWords:

Market and promote your products

14. Retarget past visitors and customers

If you’ve already set up a Facebook Pixel on your store, now’s the time to use it. When you retarget past visitors, you’ll reach people who may have forgotten about your store and wouldn’t have checked out your sale otherwise.

You can also retarget customers that have previously purchased from your store. With existing customers being generally easier to reach and market to than brand new customers, shoppers you’ve already sold to in the past should be especially receptive to your latest Black Friday Cyber Monday sales.

15. Start your email marketing campaigns

During 2018's BFCM, Shopify merchants saw their highest conversion rates from email marketing.

This year, email marketing will likely play an even more significant role in the success of most stores’ holiday sales. Every business owner should have a few email marketing campaigns planned to bring customers back to your website so they can act on your holiday sale offers.

Begin planning, creating, and scheduling the emails you’ll send out during your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Here are some ideas for email campaigns you can put together:

  • Announcing Black Friday Cyber Monday sale: You can send details of the sale ahead of time to existing subscribers, and a reminder email when the sale officially begins.
  • Last reminder before the sale ends: With the volume of emails sent over BFCM, it can’t hurt to remind subscribers that your sale is almost over to make sure they’re aware. Plus, you’ll inevitably get some procrastinators jumping on the expiring deals.
  • Exclusive sale for email subscribers: One way to capture attention in a crowded BFCM inbox is to send a deal that’s only available to your list, on top of your publicly-posted deals. Make sure to tease it on other channels, like Instagram, and let people know when to expect the subscriber-only offer.
  • Sneak-peek of upcoming promotions: Whether your BFCM offer is a discount, an exclusive product, free shipping, donations to charity, or a totally-unique-to-you promotion, start teasing it early to your subscribers so they’re on the lookout for the announcement. Send emails in the weeks leading up to BFCM with hints and teasers.

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